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Cambodia-Thailand railway a stop nearer being ready

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
Poipet railway station on the border with Thailand. Passengers will soon be able to travel to Bangkok. Ministry of Public Works and Transport

Cambodian and Thailand railway authorities will meet on Friday for final discussions on cross-border rail transportation between the nations.

Ly Borin, under-secretary of state of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, told Khmer Times yesterday that an agreement on cross-border rail transportation had been signed in April last year, but it had not yet been implemented.

The new connection will allow the carriage of cargo more efficiently, lower costs, improve security, reduce traffic jams and contribute to the development of both countries as well as to add a further link with the rest of the Asean members and the Mekong sub-region.

“On Friday the 14th of February, we will talk with our Thai counterparts about the cross-border transport via railroad and we will sign the final documents to make sure that people and cargo from both countries can cross the border via train,” Ly saidd.

Ly added that, in October last year, the two countries were about to start cross-border rail transportation but floods damaged the railway, so Cambodian authorities delayed the move. He added that now the track is fixed, both countries are nearly ready to start operations.

“We plan to start in March at the latest to ensure the cross-border rail transportation runs smoothly between Cambodia and Thailand,” Ly said.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart Prayut Chan-o-cha, in April last year, presided over the inauguration ceremony on the reconnected railroad network more than 40 years since the route stopped. Both leaders also attended the signing of an agreement on cross-border rail transportation at the ceremony.

Both governments expect it will improve transportation and boost trade. The Stung Bot-Ban Nong Ian Friendship Bridge was also inaugurated to facilitate cargo transportation between the two countries.

The agreement on joint railway traffic and the connection of our railroads again after they were separated in 1974 because of the war, will improve railroad transportation, which is an effective, cheap and safe transportation method, authorities said.

Thailand donated a diesel multiple unit (DMU) to Cambodia. A DMU is a multiple-unit train powered by on-board diesel engines that require no separate locomotive. It was manufactured by Japan’s Hitachi company and comprises four carriages, each able to carry 80 passengers.

“Now we will have both the agreement and the procedure completed. Customs and immigration have already reached agreement so we will finalise everything this Friday. We have to study some elements of the agreement closely but, in principle, we are all agreed,” Ly  added.

Sun Chantho, minister at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, has pushed the authorities to prepare for the rail link between Cambodia and Thailand to boost bilateral trade  and to upgrade to a better form of mass transportation than bus.

The northern rail link will connect Cambodia and Thailand starting at Phnom Penh and travelling to Poipet on the Thai border, a distance of 386 kilometres. At Poipet a Thai train engine will be fitted to allow onward passage to Bangkok. The Cambodian part of the track was refurbished and used temporarily in late 2018.

“This is another successful achievement between Thailand and Cambodia,” said Seang Thay, spokesman of the Ministry of Commerce.

“We hope that once train is linked between the two nations, cargo transport will be more convenient and  it will reduce the logistical costs involved.”

According to the data from the Commerce Ministry, bilateral trade between Cambodia and Thailand reached $9.41 billion by the end of 2019, up from $8.39 billion in 2018. Cambodia imported from Thailand around $7.14 billion of goods and exported to Thailand around $2.27 billion worth of products.

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