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Cambodia-Thailand rail reconnected after 45 years

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Prime Minister Hun Sen 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 Monday. LY LAY/AFP

Cambodia-Thailand rail reconnected after 45 years

A railway reconnecting Cambodia and Thailand was officially inaugurated on Monday following a 45-year hiatus, with the two kingdoms’ prime ministers in attendance at the ceremony.

On the occasion, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha travelled together from Thailand’s Khlong Luek Railway Station to Poipet Station in Banteay Meanchey province.

The connecting 386km Phnom Penh-Poipet railway line had been previously fully restored by the Cambodian government, with the expectation that it will play an important role for shipping goods between the two countries.

Cambodia is further expected to receive 140km of used track from Thailand after Bangkok gave the green light to a request made by the Kingdom, Hun Sen said during a speech on Monday.

The speech was made at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Stung Bot International Checkpoint and a newly built road connecting it to National Road 5.

The event also included a ceremony to sign a joint operation agreement on cross-border rail transport, as well as hand over a diesel multiple-unit locomotive and four passenger carriages to Cambodia.

Hun Sen said that Cambodia currently lacks the necessary steel for railway development and that Thailand has an excess of 140km of used track. He said his request for Thailand to provide Cambodia with the surplus was successful.

“We have received a positive response to my request from His Excellency Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, and the Thai Minister of Transport. Our Thai friends have a surplus of 140km of track because Thailand’s old track was removed and was replaced with a new one. So, it is old for Thailand, but new for Cambodia,” he said.

Poipet railroad was also made from 200 tonnes of used rails donated by Malaysia, the prime minister added.

Hun Sen continued that Cambodia and Thailand will in the near future open four new international border checkpoints. These include Anses (in Preah Vihear province), Chup Koki (Oddar Meanchey province), Phnom Dei (Battambang province) and Thma Da (Pursat province) checkpoints.

Ministry of Public Works and Transport spokesman Vasim Sorya said Thailand’s positive response is good news for Cambodia, which still lacks good railroad infrastructure.

He said the prime minister’s announcement could be said to be an agreement in principle for Thailand to donate the railroad. But for such a complex task, discussions need to be led by an expert working group at a later date.

“This announcement means that in principle the Thai side is willing to give its old railroad to Cambodia,” he said.

However, regarding handover and receipt of the used railroad, Sorya said there will be more procedures requiring detailed studies, such as removing the steel from the old railroad, transportation, delivery and receiving times.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (centre) and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha (right, yellow shirt) wave to onlookers as they ride a train during the ceremony to connect the railway line between the two kingdoms. Photo supplied

According to Sorya, the average price of new railway is about $4 million per km.

During an interview with journalists at the ceremony, Minister of Public Works and Transportation Sun Chanthol said that due to the small size of the current Poipet train station, Cambodia will build a larger train station in Poipet town’s Stung Bot commune to facilitate travel and goods transportation.

“The restoration and development of transport infrastructure plays an important role in integration – internally linking the country and linking it to countries in the region and the world,” he said.

Chantol added that the construction of infrastructure at the Stung Bot-Ban Nong Ian International Checkpoint will help boost economic growth, trade and investment between Cambodia and Thailand, as well as other countries in the Greater Mekong region.

The new border checkpoint will be designated for cross-border trade and business, and the current Poipet-Aranyaprathet International Checkpoint will be reserved mainly for tourism.

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was replaced with a new one. So, it is old for Thailand, but new for Cambodia,” he said.

Poipet railroad was also made from 200 tonnes of used rails donated by Malaysia, the prime minister added.

Hun Sen continued that Cambodia and Thailand will in the near future open four new international border checkpoints. These include Anses (in Preah Vihear province), Chup Koki (Oddar Meanchey province), Phnom Dei (Battambang province) and Thma Da (Pursat province) checkpoints.

‘Agreement in principle’

Ministry of Public Works and Transport spokesman Vasim Sorya said Thailand’s positive response is good news for Cambodia, which still lacks good railroad infrastructure.

He added the prime minister’s announcement could be said to be an agreement in principle for Thailand to donate the railroad. But for such a complex task, discussions need to be led by an expert working group at a later date.

“This announcement means that in principle the Thai side is willing to give its old railroad to Cambodia,” he said.

However, regarding handover and receipt of the used railroad, Sorya said there will be more procedures requiring detailed studies, such as removing the steel from the old railroad, transportation, delivery and receiving times.

According to Sorya, the average price of new railway is about $4 million per km.

During an interview with journalists at the ceremony, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said that due to the small size of the current Poipet train station, Cambodia will build a larger train station in Poipet town’s Stung Bot commune to facilitate travel and goods transportation.

“The restoration and development of transport infrastructure plays an important role in integration – internally linking the country and linking it to countries in the region and the world,” he said.

Chantol added that the construction of infrastructure at the Stung Bot-Ban Nong Ian International Checkpoint will help boost economic growth, trade and investment between Cambodia and Thailand, as well as other countries in the Greater Mekong region.

The new border checkpoint will be designated for cross-border trade and business, and the current Poipet-Aranyaprathet International Checkpoint will be reserved mainly for tourism.

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