The stretch of railway line from Phnom Penh to Preah Sihanouk province started temporary operations on Friday.
The first operations on the southern railway would boost the trade activity in the region and attract trade transportation activities, officials said.
Tram Iv Tek, minister of Public Works and Transportation, said the Toll Royal Railway company received a 30-year contract from the Cambodian government to restore and maintain the line.
He said the new railway operation will help to reduce congestion on main roads and cut road damage, accidents, traffic jams, pollution and transportation costs.
He said operation of the new railway was not yet official because some technical improvements were necessary, but the train was able to run at about 60 kilometres an hour.
“Today’s railway operation on the southern line will help to improve the transportation [required by] the ASEAN Economy Plan,” he said, adding that “Cambodia will have the real competition in price.”
He added the railway “will attract foreign investors, development partners and producers.”
David Kerr, chief executive of Toll Royal Railway, said train operations would reduce road traffic. He did not clarify specific prices for transport by train because the prices would depend on the kind of commodities, the amount of goods, and customers.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) called this first com-mercial train service to the Port of Sihanoukville a significant development towards the completion of the long-awaited Pan-Asian railroad, a continuous “Iron Silk Road” stretching from Singapore to Scotland, an ADB press release said.
The 337-kilometre “Northern Line”, linking Phnom Penh to Poipet and to Thailand, is expected to be opened in several phases between 2014 and 2015.
Tram Iv Tek said the north-western line was not yet ready, but he expected it to be able to take weights of up to 15 tonnes and speeds of 30 kilometres an hour.
According to Tram Iv Tek, the aim is to link the line from Poipet to Thailand in 2013, but if a higher standard on the southern route was required, they would need to wait for the upgrade as money was limited.
To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at email@example.com