The train service between Cambodia and Thailand, which was expected to begin operations early this year, seems to be delayed indefinitely due to a contentious one-kilometer stretch of track in Poipet City.
“We are still in the blur of the exact date of the launch of the train service and I can’t give a definite time period,” Chan Kimleng, director of the railway department at the Ministry of Public Works, told Khmer Times.
“The ceremony to link railway lines from Thailand and Cambodia cannot go on at the moment because on our part constructions are stalled.
“We can’t lay tracks on a length spanning 1,300 metres due to the presence of some ‘unauthorised’ buildings right in the middle of the track area,” Mr Kimleng said.
“We still haven’t come to a compromise on the compensation for people living along this slightly over one-kilometre track,” he added. “That seems to be taking a long time.”
The Cambodia-Thailand train service will connect Phnom Penh and Bangkok and the Poipet border crossing in Banteay Meanchey is the gateway to the Thai town of Aranyaprathet.
“Once the issue of compensation has been settled, the last stretch of track can be laid between Serey Sophon district and Poipet,” said Mr Kimleng.
The agreement to link railways between the two countries was made by Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart Prayuth Chan-o-cha in late 2015 and aims to boost trade and travel. It is hoped it will boost bilateral trade to up to $15 billion by 2020.
Minister of Public Works and Transportation Sun Chanthol said late last year Mr Hun Sen and Mr Prayuth agreed to get in a train together to cross the border at the official inauguration ceremony.
Last month, the Royal Group and two Chinese companies – Sino Great Wall International Engineering and Sino Railway Construction Corporation – reached deals over refurbishing the rail link from Phnom Penh to the Thai border.
The railway between Poipet city and Serey Sophon district is part of the eastern corridor of the rail link between Singapore and Yunnan province’s Kunming city in China that will eventually connect all of Asean.
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