The third phase of the 107km Poipet-Phnom Penh rail line, which connects Battambang to Pursat town, began preliminary testing on Tuesday, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport said.
It said the final stage of the line, which will link Pursat to Phnom Penh, is set for completion on July 4 and stretches 166 km.
“Travelling by train from Battambang to Pursat will take about 3.5 hours. The trains will travel at speeds of between 30 and 40km per hour,” Ly Borin, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said.
The completed Battambang-Pursat route is the third rail line connecting the Kingdom’s northeast with the capital to be upgraded.
Earlier upgrades were lines from Serei Saophoan to Poipet and Battambang town to Serei Saophoan. They were opened for testing on April 4 and April 29, respectively.
Borin said when the latest line is fully operational, it will contribute to Cambodia’s economic growth, and provide safe and cost-effective transportation of goods.
He expressed hope that a Phnom Penh to Bangkok line will begin by the end of the year.
John Guiry, the CEO of Toll Royal Railway, which in 2010 won the 30-year concession to operate and upgrade the Cambodian rail network, said the test passenger service from Battambang to Poipet was running well.
During the test phase, which will last until August 1, passengers are allowed to travel for free, he said.
“Travelling and transporting goods in Cambodia will be a lot easier in the near future,” Guiry said.
A Serei Sophon town resident, who asked to be known only as Chariya, uses the service to travel to Poipet, and said she enjoyed the experience as the journey was easy and safe.
“Travelling by train makes me feel refreshed and safe,” she said.
Cambodia currently has two rail lines. The first was constructed from 1929 to 1942 and connected the 386km from Phnom Penh to Poipet.
The second, constructed between 1960 and 1969, travels the 266km from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville.
Additional reporting by Nop Sovan