by Zhang Jianhua, Chanthaphaphone Mixayboua
VIENTIANE, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- Since the beginning of the Lunar New Year of the Ox, over 10,000 builders have been striving for the timely completion of the China-Laos railway slated for the end of 2021.
Working till the Lunar New Year's Eve and resuming the work on the second day of the Ox Year after a one-day break, is the common arrangement of every construction site.
Although the Spring Festival holiday was shortened to only one day, every construction site was full of a festive atmosphere, with hanging lanterns and Spring Festival couplets decorating, and the railway builders' self-prepared Chinese food, parties and performances.
Especially, the Lao staff in their festival costumes, singing and dancing to traditional Lao music, have also presented their wishes to the Chinese engineers who were away from their families.
"On New Year's Eve, there were 10,975 construction personnel on the China-Laos railway construction sites, including 4,725 Chinese and 6,250 Lao nationals," Xiao Qianwen, general manager of the Laos-China Railway Co., Ltd.(LCRC), responsible for the construction and operation of the railway, told reporters in Vientiane on Friday, adding that 2021 is the final year of the railway's construction, "We will vigorously carry forward 'the spirit of the ox,' working hard to build the China-Laos railway into a demonstration project of the Belt and Road Initiative and for the China-Laos friendship."
According to Xiao Qianwen, as of New Year's Eve, the main works of 75 tunnels, 164 bridges and 180 roadbed sections of the China-Laos railway have been completed; 65.9 percent of the railway tracks have been installed; all the 10 railway station buildings have sealed the roofs and will start interior decoration in the coming April; the electrical and signal equipments' commissioning will be kicked off in March.
"The 12.7-km construction project from Vientiane Station to Vientiane South Station of the China-Laos Railway Improvised Project is also progressing as planned," Xiao said, "According to the revised survey and design, only one year was left for the improvised project as the construction was postponed on July 20, 2020."
The China Railway No. 5 Engineering Group (CREC-5) installed the first T-shape concrete beam of the 7.53-km Phonethong super-major bridge, the longest bridge of the improvised project, on the outskirts of the Lao capital Vientiane.
"Although we cannot go back to China to reunite with our families in this year's Spring Festival, the installation of the first beam has been our best new year gift. We look forward to the smooth opening of the project and the benefits of the China-Laos railway to the people of the two countries," said Li Jianjun, captain of the CREC-5 bridge installation team.
As the construction of the China-Laos railway is to complete on schedule, preparations for the railway's operation has also been accelerated. In the northern suburbs of Lao capital Vientiane, 188 Lao trainees who have completed intensive Chinese language training and railway theoretical training, are receiving practical training at the CREC-2 Vientiane railing base during the Spring Festival.
"The Laos-China railway is a symbol of the friendship between China and Laos. I am a daughter of a Lao father and a Chinese mother, and my family hopes that I can work on the Laos-China railway because this project will benefit the people of both countries. It's very meaningful," Somphone Inleuangsy, a 24-year-old Lao girl, told Xinhua at the CREC-2 railing base, "In this Chinese New Year, I have made my wish to become a train driver as soon as possible, and I also wish the opening of the China-Laos railway as soon as possible. Thank China, thank Laos-China railway."
The 30-year-old Wei Songtao, Somphone's Chinese instructor, has been driving trains with CREC-2 for 10 years. He said, "It is an honor to participate in the construction of the China-Laos railway. I am very happy to be able to work with the kind and warm-hearted Lao comrades. I will pass all my skills to my Lao apprentices, helping them realize their good dreams, and making my contribution to the Belt and Road Initiative."
The over-400-km China-Laos railway 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 December 2016 and is scheduled to be completed and operational in December 2021. Enditem