The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete.

The study was carried out by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), the company behind the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway. Once completed, it would focus on passenger travel and international cargo transportation between Cambodia and Thailand, according to Minster of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol.

Chanthol met virtually with CRBC on January 23 to review the preliminary results. During the meeting, CRBC presented a general overview of the project which would cover a span of 382km. The $4 billion cost includes the trains as well as the infrastructure that would be powered by electricity.

The trains would be able to travel at the maximum speed at 160km/h with a total of 33 stations along the route to pick up and drop off travellers.

More than 300 overpasses would need to be constructed to avoid collisions between the trains and vehicles on roads that intersect with the tracks. The body of the train would be divided into sections, one for passengers and another for cargo.

The ministry said Chanthol will bring important points from the study to present to Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth on January 30.

“The meeting with the finance minister will also touch on the possibility and terms of project implementation and seek more recommendations from him in order to firm up the details comprehensively towards a possible start of the project in the near future,” it said.

The government, it noted, green-lit the two ministries to work together to push to accelerate the project’s study and begin construction, which would especially benefit the provinces around the would-be express railway.

Cambodia Logistics Association (CLA) president Sin Chanthy told The Post that transportation via railway is very important, not only for passengers but also for goods. In general, this means of transport is ranks second in potential importance after waterway.

“The Phnom Penh-Poipet express railway project has been placed in the public works ministry’s master plan. It will be good – especially for private sector – that the government pushes for this project to accelerate. Those in the transportation sector expect that the project will emerge soon to bring it to another level,” he said.

Once it is built, the railway will run through Kandal, Kampong Chhnang, Pursat, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces. It will be the first-ever express railway in Cambodia that will also connect the country to neighbouring Thailand.