China-Laos Railway Tunnel Construction Making Breakthroughs

LUANG PRABANG, Laos, Nov 9 (NNN-XINHUA) – China-Laos railway tunnels’ construction, continues to make lots of breakthroughs, as one more major tunnel was drilled through on Friday, in the tropical mountains of northern Laos.

A Chinese railway engineering company, China Railway No. 8 Engineering Group (CREC-8), bored, Ban Ka No. 1 Tunnel, near the ancient Lao capital of Luang Prabang, some 220 km north of the capital, Vientiane.

This marks another important milestone in the tunnel construction of the China-Laos railway. With a length of 4,585 metres, it is the second longest tunnel on the rarely-inhabited peninsula area, half-circled by the Mekong River.

The poor transportation infrastructure, without bridges connecting nearby Luang Prabang and roads in the area, the living and production conditions on the peninsula have been quite hard.

What’s more, the Ban Ka No. 1 Tunnel has to pass through unfavorable geology, creating lots of difficulties to the Chinese engineering company, CREC-8. It is listed as a high-risk, difficult and bottle-neck project for the China-Laos railway construction.

During construction, hydraulic discharge and mud cleaning have brought difficulties to the Chinese engineers.

However, with efforts made by the Chinese and Lao sides, the tunnel’s construction was carried out scientifically, and rapidly. Last May, the CREC-8 achieved first place with over 1,000 metres bored into a tunnel from a single working face in the Ban Ka No. 1 Tunnel, which laid the foundation for its completion.

Especially for the tunnel construction, the China-Laos railway has holed through around 40 tunnels so far, out of its 76 tunnels with a total length of 198 km.

The Boten Tunnel, the first major tunnel over 5,000 metres along the China-Laos railway was drilled through on Mar 21, by China Railway No. 5 Engineering Group (CREC-5). In Oct, 2018, the CREC-5 also completed the first over-1,000-metre tunnel along the China-Laos railway, the Nateuy No. 1 Tunnel, with a length of 1,158 metres, some 360 km north of the Lao capital Vientiane.

In Feb, 2018, the Chinese engineering companies started inside-tunnel construction for all major tunnels along the China-Laos railway, and started construction of all over-one-kilometre tunnels.

The China-Laos Railway is a strategic docking project between the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and Laos’ strategy to convert from a landlocked country to a land-linked hub. The 414.332-km railway, with 198-km tunnels and 62-km bridges, will run from Boten border gate in northern Laos, bordering China, to Vientiane, with an operating speed of 160 km per hour.

The project started in Dec, 2016, and is scheduled to be completed and opened to traffic in Dec, 2021.– NNN-XINHUA