The Vientiane – Vung Ang railway is a proposed railway that would connect Vientiane in Laos to the Vung Ang seaport in Vietnam. Vung Ang is the closest feasible seaport to Vientiane, thus the railway would enable landlocked Laos access to a deep seaport for shipping. The railway would also interchange with Vietnam’s North-South railway, opening up the prospect of a Hanoi-Vientiane railway service.
The line would connect to the Laos-China railway in Vientiane, so the catchment area for freight shipment would extend into Northern Laos and Southern China.
The proposed line is 555 km in total – 452 km in Laos and 103 km in Vietnam. Each country has pledged to finance and build their own section. The total estimated cost is over 5 billion USD.
The Vung Ang seaport in Vietnam’s central Ha Tinh province will be jointly developed by the two countries. Laos would hold a 60% stake in the project, and Vietnam with 40%.
A feasibility study was commissioned in 2015 by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and in 2017 it was announced that the project was viable.
In 2019 an Indonesian consortium announced it begin work on the Laos section in 2021. The leaders of Laos and Vietnam met in August 2021 and pledged to accelerate the Vientiane-Vung Ang railway, though no dates were given.
In March 2022 it was announced that Laos would assume management of Vung Ang seaport in July, and then it was announced that the railway would begin construction in November 2022.
Vientiane – Vung Ang Railway Map
This map shows the locations that are part of the project but not the actual station locations.
[Map of Vientiane – Vung Ang railway.]
Links And Resources
Work on Vientiane-Vung Ang railway expected to start in November – [17/03/22]
“The railway, estimated to cost US$5 billion, is a proposed line that the Lao and Vietnamese governments have agreed to jointly develop…A feasibility study on the 554km railway has been completed, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Petroleum Trading Lao Public Company (PetroTrade), Mr Chanthone Sitthixay, told the President of the National Assembly, Dr Xaysomphone Phomvihane, recently.”
Laos-Vietnam friendship and solidarity year to be celebrated next year – [10/08/21]
“Laos and Vietnam have agreed to celebrate 2022 as Laos-Vietnam Friendship and Solidarity Year.”
Vietnam, Laos ink series of agreements – [10/08/21]
“In the working session with Lao Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh on the same day, the two leaders talked about measures to promote trade and investment, and the acceleration of some projects including Vung Ang No.1, 2, 3 port projects, the Hanoi-Vientiane Expressway, Vientiane-Vung Ang Railway, Lao-Vietnam Friendship Park in Vientiane, Nongkhang Airport and hospitals in Lao Houaphan and Xiangkhouang Provinces.”
[Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc (L) and Lao Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh on August 9. Photo: VNA]
Laos: Vientiane Logistics Park project prepares for soft opening, linking with Laos-China railway – [24/07/21]
“The TDP and VLP are set to connect to a number of mega trade infrastructure projects that are also part of the Laos Logistics Link. These include the Vung Ang seaport in Vietnam’s central Ha Tinh province, which the Lao and Vietnamese governments have agreed to jointly develop, the planned railway to link the Lao capital of Vientiane with the Vung Ang seaport”.
Viet Nam, Laos agree to seek investments for strategic transport projects – [26/06/21]
“Viet Nam and Laos have agreed to work together to seek investments for strategic transport connectivity projects, including the Ha Noi-Vientiane expressway and Vientiane-Vung Ang railway.”
Vietnam’s tug of war with China over Laos – [12/05/21]
“…Laos also has a strategic interest in maintaining a warm relationship with Vietnam. Being landlocked, Vietnam provides the best route for Laos to access the sea for trade. Infrastructure projects to connect Laos with Vietnam’s key economic centres, including a proposed railway from Vientiane to the central Vietnamese deep-water port of Vung Ang, are being considered. Chinese infrastructure financing has also left Laos with a heavy burden of debt and vulnerable to Beijing’s manipulation. Vietnam offers a counterweight to this trend. The best strategy for Laos is to walk the line between its two bigger neighbours and benefit from both.”
As China-Laos railway nears completion, infrastructure poised to transform Lao economy – [22/02/21]
“The future of the Lao national railway will also play a role in shaping economic ties to neighboring Vietnam and Thailand, both key partners in the country’s economic development. Construction on a 500-kilometer rail line from Vientiane to Vung Ang, Vietnam is slated to begin later in 2021 and would give Laos much quicker access to a port as well as connecting it to Vietnam’s rail system.”
Study set for Laos-Vietnam Railway Project – [13/10/20]
“Petroleum Trading Lao Public Company (PetroTrade) has signed an agreement with the National Consulting Group Sole Co Ltd to conduct an environmental and social impact assessment to ensure the Laos-Vietnam Railway Project is developed in compliance with international environmental and social standards.”
3rd Meeting of Working Group on Dry Ports [PDF] – [13-14 November 2019]
Logistics Strategy and Logistics Development Plan in Lao PDR.
Indonesia announces start date for $1.9bn Vietnam-Laos rail link – [22/10/19]
“The Indonesia Railway Development Consortium has announced plans to begin work in 2021 on a 400km rail line between Vietnam and Laos for a price of $1.9bn”
Laos plans to begin work on Laos-Vietnam railway in 2021 – [17/10/19]
“The Lao Government has entrusted the Petroleum Trading Lao Public Company (PetroTrade) to conduct a feasibility study on a Laos-Vietnam railway project, the Vientiane Times reported.”
Lao, Vietnamese PMs push for mega infrastructure projects – [05/06/19]
“The governments of Laos and Vietnam have agreed to jointly develop the Vung Ang seaport in Vietnam’s central Ha Tinh province.
It was reported previously that Laos would hold a stake of up to 60 percent in the project, while Vietnam will hold the remaining 40 percent. The Lao government envisages that the seaport will be a key trade route for the landlocked nation.
The two sides signed an agreement earlier this year pledging to work together to fuulfil the planned project, known as the Vientiane-Vung Ang railway.
The 555-km railway will cover 452km in Laos and 103km in Vietnam.
Each side pledged to seek financing to build the section of railway on its soil, according to the agreement on exploring potentials to realise the railway project.”
Experts question need for proposed Laos-Vietnam rail link – [08/03/19]
“A railway connecting the Lao capital Vientiane with the port of Vung Ang on Vietnam’s coast may have trouble finding lenders to finance the project, plans for which were announced at the end of February by Lao and Vietnamese leaders, experts say.”
Laos, Vietnam seek funds for cross-border railway – [27/02/19]
“The two sides signed an agreement in Vientiane on Sunday, pledging to work together to realise the planned project, known as the Vientiane-Vung Ang railway, local daily Vientiane Times reported yesterday.”
Lao-Vietnamese Presidents agreed to further strengthen ties – [26/02/19]
“The Two sides agreed to further strengthen their great friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation with the signing of 9 cooperation agreements related to financial cooperation, construction of Vientiane-Vung Ang railway, electricity and mines development and other relevant agreements were also signed.”
Vientiane – Vung Ang railway needs over 5 billion USD – [04/05/18]
“More than 5 billion USD is needed to build a railway linking the Lao capital of Vientiane with Vung Ang seaport in Vietnam, according to research conducted under a technical support project for the railway’s feasibility study.”
Feasibility study says Laos-Vietnam railway doable – [11/12/17]
“Two years ago, Lao, Vietnamese and Korean experts and officials met in the capital of Laos to commence a study on the feasibility of a proposed 555km railway that would link Vientiane, passing through Thakaek (Khammouane) to Vung Ang Port in Vietnam. Last week, that feasibility study was declared complete. The railway was announced to be a viable project, worth pursuing.”
Govt takes step to develop VungAng Seaport – [25/05/17]
“During last month’s visit to Laos by Vietnam’s Prime Minister, the two governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to work together to develop the Vientiane-Thakhaek-Muya railway, linking Vientiane with the VungAng seaport.”
Vietnamese Prime Minister pays an official visit to Laos – [26/04/17]
“The two Prime Ministers also signed and witnessed the signing of several cooperation agreements on a joint venture project to develop Vung Ang Port as a Lao-Vietnamese port; the building of a railway stretching from Vientiane through Thakhek, Mayu, and Ton Ob to Vung Ang”.
A Vietnam-Laos railway could be on the horizon – [10/03/16]
“The study, funded by the International Cooperation Agency of Korea (KOICA), will review the planning, potential railway site, traffic demand forecast, economic analysis and financial feasibility of the proposed railway”.
Feasibility study for Laos-Vietnam railway begins – [25/02/16]
“A feasibility study for a railway linking the Lao capital of Vientiane with Vung Ang seaport in central Ha Tinh province of Vietnam has begun, a senior Lao official has said.”
South Korea to help Laos with rail link plan – [19/10/15]
“The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) will provide US$3 million (Bt106 million) in aid to help Laos conduct a feasibility study for a railway link from Vientiane to Vung Ang, Vietnam.”
Vietnam to add new line to China-Southeast Asia rail network – [08/10/15]
“A rail link is now being planned between the central province of Ha Tinh and Laos capital city Vientiane, as part of a network between China and Southeast Asian countries.”
The Study on the Development Plan of Thakek-Vung Ang Gateway between Lao PDR and Vietnam – [March 2010]
(The New East-West Corridor for North-Eastern Thailand, Lao PDR, and Vietnam) Study Report