VIENTIANE, April 3 (Xinhua) -- After more than a year's construction, the China-Laos railway is taking shape in northern Laos bordering China.
"Now we have 2,401 staff and 603 sets of equipment at our construction sites," Zhou Xiaoxia, the superintendent of the China-Laos railway construction project's first section, told Xinhua on Monday by phone.
The superintendent from China Railway No. 5 Engineering Group (CREC 5) told Xinhua, up until the end of March, his unit had completed around 26 percent of the project section.
"For example, we have bored more than 14 km of tunnels which is 44 percent of the total and set up the lower portion of bridges which span more than 1,000 meters," said Zhou.
In 2018, Section One of the China-Laos railway project will see tunnels extended between 18 km and 20 km into the mountains and before Chinese New Year in February, 2019, the section will have bored through six tunnels, Huang Zongwen, a senior official with the China-Laos railway construction project told Xinhua during a tour to the construction sites.
He added that all the lower portions of the bridges, and the main roadbed work will be finished in 2018 and, before June this year, most of the culverts will be built.
The China-Laos railway construction project is divided into six sections. The CREC 5 is in charge of Section One in northern Laos, which borders China.
"There's a feeling of real enthusiasm towards this construction project and our team has been touched by the eagerness and expectations of the Lao people towards the railway," Hu Yong, a senior official of a CREC 5 said while showing Xinhua the tidy construction sites, factories and living zones.
"I am sure this year will see the construction work continue to boom and we can assure the timely and quality progress of the China-Laos railway."
In Hu Yong's team, Boten Tunnel is listed as one of the China-Laos railway's "important but difficult" projects.
Inside the Boten tunnel, engineering blasting, digging and cement lining were being carried out in an orderly fashion, and the in-and-outward bound heavy-duty trucks carried out earth and gravel continually, Xinhua reporters saw at the scene.
"We have almost bored half of the tunnel," Hu said proudly.
In the China-Laos border area, China Railway No.2 Group (CREC 2) is boring the Friendship Tunnel from each side.
"We have made a 300-meter entrance into the cross-border mountains, and will have half of the job completed on the Lao side at the end of this year," said Wang Xiaodong, a senior official of the CREC 2 unit, on Sunday.
The tunnel, with a total length of 9,595 meters, is divided into two parts, 7,170 meters on the Chinese side and 2,425 meters on the Lao side.
By March 26, the CREC 2 had bored 1,530.6 meters into the mountains from the Chinese side.
In December, 2017, Ban Somsanook No. 2 Tunnel with a length of 301 meters in Laos' Vientiane Province, was bored by the Chinese project contractor Sino Corporation Engineering Bureau 15 Co., Ltd., and became the first completed tunnel along the China-Laos railway route.
The China-Laos railway is being promoted by the leaders of the two countries as a project of interconnectivity. Since the commencement of construction in December 2016, the building of tunnels, bridges, roadbeds and other sections has progressed smoothly along the route.
The China-Laos railway has a total length of more than 414 kilometers comprising 60 percent of bridges and tunnels, linking Mohan-Boten border gate in northern Laos and the capital of Vientiane.
The operating speed of trains on the route is designed to be 160 km per hour. The railway is expected to be fully operational in December 2021.