Train travel from Bangkok to Beijing inching closer

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

Train travel between Bangkok and Beijing is moving closer to reality as Thailand gears up to expand its rail network. This new venture promises to transform travel and trade in the region, connecting major cities in Thailand, Laos, and China.

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) announced a trial service between Bangkok and Vientiane, the capital of Laos, on July 13 and 14. According to SRT spokesperson Ekarat Sriarayanphong, this link will enhance transportation between the two countries and pave the way for a seamless rail journey to China.

The new route will allow passengers to travel from Bangkok to Beijing via stops in Vientiane and Kunming in southern China, where a semi-high-speed service to Beijing is available. Covering approximately 2,000 miles (3,218 kilometres) through mountainous terrain, the journey will take almost a full day. In contrast, a direct flight takes under five hours. However, the scenic and economic benefits of train travel are expected to outweigh the longer journey time.

Currently, a high-speed train operates between China and Laos, significantly reducing freight delivery times to China. What used to take two days by truck now takes just 15 hours by train, according to a report by Nikkei. This efficiency boost is a game-changer for Thai exporters.

Thailand’s push to enhance connectivity with China, its largest trading partner, is aimed at boosting economic growth. Thai exports to China nearly reached US$32 billion (approximately 1.17 trillion baht) in the first 11 months of last year, with fruit and rubber products leading the charge. Imports from China, dominated by electrical equipment and machinery, totalled US$65.3 billion during the same period.

Tourism between the two nations is also set to flourish. Chinese visitors can stay in Thailand for up to 60 days, while Thai tourists enjoy 30-day stays in China. A forthcoming high-speed rail link, albeit delayed until 2028, will further solidify these ties, promising an exciting future for travel and trade in Southeast Asia, reported Bangkok Post.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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