Date: 23rd November 2023
The first official rail freight service between China and Thailand is a fact. The inaugural train departed on 17 November from Chengdu, and by now, it should already have reached its destination in Map Ta Phut, Thailand. This is the first official link launched between the two countries using the China-Laos railway. Since the service will run in both ways, it is expected to contribute to forwarding Thai agricultural products to Europe and countries like Poland, Belgium and Germany.
In fact, the first official train from Thailand back to Chengdu will run as soon as December, with products onboard destined for European countries, as well as the Chinese and Russian markets. The service was set up by China Railways and private Thai operators. The parties have not yet disclosed information about its frequency.
No matter that, trains officially running between China and Thailand through Laos constitute a significant development contributing to the extension of Silk Road routes in Southeast Asia, an appealing market for rail logisticians and, so far, hardly tapped. According to Chinese media, the Thai government appears committed to developing the route since it sees a huge potential in connecting with European markets.
From Chengdu to Europe
The foundation to connect the Thai market to European ones is already there. Last July, China Railways launched the first train connecting Vientiane in Laos with Budapest in Hungary via Chengdu. Chengdu is the Chinese hub for traffic from Southeast Asia, specifically Laos and Thailand, while Thailand’s connection to China passes through Laos using the China-Laos railway. The service runs three times a week and has an average transit time of 15 days.