VIENTIANE, March 24 (Xinhua) -- The Lao-Thai Railway Construction Project Phase II (Section I) is now completed and ready for service, local daily Vientiane Times reported Friday.

The project handover ceremony was held Thursday between Lao Ministry of Public Works and Transport and Thailand's Neighboring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (NEDA).

Section I was financially supported by NEDA, which provides over 656 million Thai baht (nearly 19 million U.S. dollars) by NEDA. Of the money, 30 percent is a grant and 70 percent is low interest loan, the Lao Railway Department Director General Sompong Pholsena said at the ceremony.

The project began in September, 2013. The Section I comprises a siding track at Thanalaeng Station in Laos, 5,800 meters of railway mainline expansion from Thanalaeng station to a container yard, along with upgrading of the signalling and telecommunications system from analogue to digital allowing computer controls, he said.

There is also a 38,000--square meter container yard and more than 2,000 meters of concrete access roads, an over 5,000--square meter warehouse, three floors of administration offices, weight entry gate and other facilities such as electrical system, water supply, fire prevention system and waste management facility.

The railway is one of the projects to boost close cooperation between Laos and Thailand. It is also to promote trading and investment as well as tourism between the two countries in order to link with Asia and the region, said NEDA President Newin Sinsiri.

Section II, which comprises a 7.5 km railway expansion from Thanalaeng station to Vientiane station at Khamsavath village in Laos and other facilities, will begin at the end of 2017.