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Rail line discussed for north Cambodia

A Chinese railway company may conduct a feasibility study on a 700-kilometre rail line in northern Cambodia, officials and local media reported yesterday.

Officials from Nanning Survey and Design Institute Co Ltd, a subsidiary of China Railway Siyuan Group, discussed the study with the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation on November 16, Secretary of State Sokhom Pheakvoanmony said. The meeting with Chinese company director Zhang Beirui focused on technical aspects of the study, but did not yield a formal agreement, he added.

“We are submitting [the meeting result] for further talks with the relevant department directors at the ministry before we look for approval from the government,” he said, adding that Nanning Survey and Design Institute would also conduct similar studies in Laos and Vietnam. Sokhom Pheakvoanmony declined to answer further questions.

The Chinese company planned to survey a potential 700-kilometre rail line that stretched across Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, Kampong Thom and Kratie provinces and connected to the Laos and Vietnam borders, local media reported yesterday. The study would cost US$5 million and start next year.

An official at Nanning Survey and Design Institute, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the project with the media, confirmed that progress had been made during discussions with the ministry, but no formal agreement was produced. Information concerning the length and price of the proposed project were speculative, he said.

Although intermittent discussion has continued on Chinese-Cambodian cooperation in rehabilitating the rail line that crosses Cambodia between Thailand and Vietnam, the estimated cost of the project may have caused delays, Lei Pengqin, an economic and trade official at the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh, said yesterday.

“It needs a lot of capital … Both countries are discussing the project right now, but the discussions are off and on,” he said.

China’s Ministry’s of Railways conducted a study on a 257-kilometre, $686 million rail link between Kampong Speu and Kratie provinces, according to a statement from Cambodia’s Ministry of Finance.

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