STATE Railway of Thailand (SRT) will begin operation of a new cross-border passenger service between Thailand and Laos later this month. From July 19 trains will connect Bangkok with Vientiane daily.

The new service is an extension of existing Bangkok - Nong Khai trains running on the metre-gauge line between the two countries. The first will depart from Bangkok Central Terminal station at 21.25 on July 19 and arrive at Vientiane's Khamsavath station at 09.05 on July 20.

According to The Bangkok Post, a railway official advises passengers to use public transport, such as minibuses and taxis, to reach central Vientiane, around 9km away from Khamsavath station. From there connections are available on the Laos - China high-speed railway to destinations in Laos and China. Tourist traffic is a key driver for the new service, as visitors from China are now able to stay for up to 60 days in Thailand, while tourists from Thailand can stay in China for up to 30 days.

The journey time from Bangkok to Laos is expected to be around 10 hours, with a single ticket for a seat in a third class air-conditioned coach costing from Baht 300 ($US 8.20).

SRT has provided training for Lao railway staff in areas including operations, station management and ticket retailing. A trial run from Udon Thani to and Vientiane via Nong Khai and Thanalaeng was successfully completed in May.

The first phase of the high-speed line between Thailand and China is expected to open in 2028.