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Railway agreement signed

Railway agreement signed

THE government signed an agreement Friday with Australia's Toll Holdings and the Royal Group as part of a joint venture that will manage Cambodia's railway services with an investment of US$145 million over 30 years, officials said.

The deal, signed by Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon, means the Australian firm takes a 55 percent stake in the project, with the Royal Group securing 45 percent.

The deal will see the companies invest in 70 locomotives, which will begin running in 2011 or early 2012, said Va Simsoriya, director of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport's Department of Planning, on Sunday.

An overhaul of the country's two main lines - between Phnom Penh and Poipet and another between the capital and Sihanoukville - would have to be completed first, he added.

"We are now undergoing renovation with a $73 million loan from ADB. Only 10 percent is completed.... We hope to complete in two years," he said, adding that the new rail network would provide jobs for up to 1,000 people.