Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia-Thai rail traffic dips

Cambodia-Thai rail traffic dips

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Prime Minister Hun Sen (left) waves besides his Thai counterpart Prayut Chan-o-cha as they ride a train during a ceremony to reconnect the railway line between Cambodia and Thailand on April 22, 2019. AFP

Cambodia-Thai rail traffic dips

The continued spread of Covid-19 has disrupted rail traffic between Cambodia and Thailand, a link that was inaugurated just under two years ago.

Ministry of Public Works and Transport undersecretary of state Vasim Sorya said the government is working with its Thai counterpart to drive traction in rail traffic between the two countries, but the global health crisis has slammed the breaks on progress.

“We have not had any cross-border traffic as of late because of the [rising number of] Covid-19 cases, making it temporarily impossible for us to transport” goods between the two countries, he said.

He noted that a team from the ministry is ploughing away to speed up talks with the Thai side.

While the team has conducted a series of online video conferences to move things along, a general consensus has yet to be reached on a timeline for the resumption of trade or other, more specific technical terms, Sorya admitted.

He added that Thailand recently gifted 140km of rail and a locomotive to Cambodia as a gesture that might help improve goods exchange along the northern Phnom Penh-Poipet route.

The route ends at the Poipet station near the international border with Aranyaprathet town in Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province.

On April 22, 2019, the Cambodian and Thai prime ministers presided over the inauguration of the railway link that connected the two countries after a 45-year hiatus.

This came after the Cambodian government restored the 386km Phnom Penh-Poipet route.

On June 12, 2009, the Cambodian government granted a 30-year concession agreement to Toll (Cambodia) Co Ltd – a joint-venture between Australian-owned Toll Holding Ltd and Cambodia’s local conglomerate Royal Group of Companies Ltd – to manage the operations of the Kingdom’s railway system.

In 2014, however, Toll Holding transferred its 55 per cent stake in Toll Cambodia to Royal Group, which then changed the subsidiary’s name to Royal Railway Cambodia.

The government has spent some $226.6 million to restore the country’s southern and western railways to improve transportation.

About $85 million of these funds came from the national budget while the remaining $141.6 million came from the Asian Development Bank and other development partners.

Connecting Phnom Penh to Poipet in Banteay Meanchey province and on to the Thai border, the northern railway has helped crank up trade figures, even if just a little bit.

Thailand is Cambodia’s seventh-largest importer of Cambodian goods after the US, Japan, Germany, China, the UK and Canada, accounting for four per cent of Cambodia’s exports.

Trade between Cambodia and Thailand reached $7.236 billion last year, tumbling 23.17 per cent from 2019, primarily due to the economic disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Thai Ministry of Commerce.

Statistics show that Cambodia exported $1.148 billion in merchandise to Thailand in 2020, down 49.49 per cent year-on-year, and imported $6.089 billion, down 14.80 per cent from 2019.

The bulk of Cambodia’s exports to Thailand are gemstones, jewellery, agricultural products and aluminium. Its imports mainly comprise of fuel, motorcycles, cars, gemstones and jewellery.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Stop Russia sanctions

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said sanctions against Russia as a result of its military offensive in Ukraine should be stopped as they have produced no tangible results, and predicted that a global food crisis would ensue in 2023 as a consequence. Speaking to an audience at

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Siem Reap’s Angkor Botanical Garden opens

    The Angkor Botanical Garden was officially opened on May 19 with free entry for both local and international visitors for the first six weeks. The garden was established on a nearly 15ha plot of land in Siem Reap. “After the first six weeks, Angkor Botanical Garden

  • Pub Street on the cards for Battambang

    The Battambang Provincial Authority has announced that it is considering establishing a Pub Street in the area around the heritage buildings in Battambang town in a bid to attract more tourists. Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post that the establishment of a Pub

  • Hun Sen: Don’t react to hostility

    Prime Minister Hun Sen urged tolerance and thanked members of the Cambodian diaspora for not reacting to the hostility on display towards him by others while he was in the US to attend the May 12-13 ASEAN-US Special Summit in Washington, DC. In an audio