People can now board a train in Phnom Penh and travel all the way to Poipet, in the border with Thailand, after the last section of the western rail line was officially inaugurated yesterday.
Renovation work on the western rail line, which covers 386 kilometres and connects the capital with the Thai border, has now officially concluded, making it operational for the first since it was destroyed during the countrys civil war.
The last section, stretching for 166 kilometres from Pursat province to Phnom Penh, was launched yesterday, and passengers will be able to use it free of charge until the end of July.
The first section of the rail line, connecting Poipet and Banteay Meanchey provinces Serey Sophorn, was inaugurated in early April. The section stretching from Serey Sophorn to Battambang was put into service later that month, while the one from Battamabang to Pursat entered service in May.
Transport Minister Sun Chanthol, speaking yesterday at the launching ceremony for the last section of the rail line, called the day historic, adding that this will be the first time in 45 years that the rail line is operational.
He explained that on Friday he will meet his Thai counterpart to discuss and finalise a memorandum of understanding that will specify the rules for the transportation of goods by train across the border between Cambodia and Thailand.
We have already connected the railways in Cambodia and Thailand, he said. However, passengers cannot cross the border by train yet because there are three points in our railway agreement that we still havent managed to agree upon.
Once the agreement is signed, Cambodians will be able to take the train from Poipet to Bangkok, and then in Thailand they can board a train all the way to Singapore, he said.
Royal Railway, the company in charge of managing the railway network in Cambodia, will now purchase modern train engines and carriages to further improve and modernise the line, the minister said.
Sin Chanthy, president of the Cambodia Freight Forwarders Association, said opening the line will reduce traffic congestion in the capital.
Re-opening the line will alleviate traffic problems in Phnom Penh. Passengers will also be able to travel more cheaply, as trains are generally a cheaper mode of transportation, he said
My hope is that a freight service will be launched soon so that it can also lower costs for transportation companies.
Chan Kimleng, director of the Railway Department, told Khmer Times fares for the rail line have yet to be decided, adding that the government is still negotiationing with Royal Railways to set prices.
A one-way ticket to travel from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville by train now costs $7, according to Royal Railways.
Cambodian transport personnel look out from a train arriving at Phnom Penh railway station on Wednesday after travelling from the northwestern province of Pursat. TANG CHHIN Sothy/afp
The railway linking Cambodia and Thailand will be inaugurated soon, with ministerial-level talks between the two nations set for Friday, Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MPWT) spokesman Vasim Sorya said.
He told The Post on Thursday that the two sides will discuss the reconstruction and expansion of joint train stations.
The discussions could be called the last stage before the trains can inter-operate as the connection is already complete, he said, adding, however, that a firm time-table has not yet been set.
The line could prove especially beneficial for the shipping of freight, as it would reduce delivery time and costs, and the damage to national roads.
Ket Vibol, an importer of paper and envelopes from Thailand, said he now imports between 15 and 20 tonnes of goods per year.
My goods are transported from factories in Bangkok to Phnom Penh, which can take three to four days. Paying for taxes and transportation costs more than $2,000, he said, adding that he would consider using the railway to move goods as it would be cheaper.
Cambodia currently has two active rail lines. The one from Phnom Penh to Poipet town stretches 386km, while the other from the capital to Sihanoukvilles seaport is 266km long.
The line of railroad from Pursat province to Phnom Penh was completed on Wednesday and has a total length of 166km.
The Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthoi said that while the rail link between Cambodia and Thailand had been completed, the operating schedule would be decided after Fridays talks.
The Phnom Penh Pursat section of Cambodia's northern main line was reopened on July 4 (Photo: Ministry of Public Works & Transport).Free travel is being offered until the end of the month (Photo: Ministry of Public Works & Transport).Minster of Public Works & Transport Sun Chanthol said concessionaire Royal Railway would acquire modern locomotives and coaches for the route (Photo: Ministry of Public Works & Transport).
The 386 km route between Phnom Penh and Poipet on the Thai border has now been reinstated (Photo: Ministry of Public Works & Transport).
CAMBODIA: The 166 km Phnom Penh Pursat section of the northern main line was reopened on July 4, completing the reinstatement of the 386 km route between the capital and the Thai border. Free travel is being offered until the end of the month.
The through route to the Thai border was completed in 1942, but has been out of use since being damaged by fighting in the early 1970s. In 2009 the government and the Asian Development Bank agreed to fund reinstatement works, which were launched with a groundbreaking ceremony in Poipet on July 25 2014.
The 48 km Poipet Sisophon section of the route was reopened on April 4 this year, followed by the 69 km from Sisophon to Battambang on April 29 and the 107 km continuation to Pursat on May 29.
Speaking at the inauguration of the final section of the route, Minister of Public Works & Transport Sun Chanthol said railway concessionaire Royal Railway would now acquire modern locomotives and coaches for use on the line.
The minister was due to meet his Thai counterpart on July 6 to finalise a memorandum of understanding which would allow passenger and freight trains to run from Poipot to Arayaprathet station in Thailand. A 1·3 km cross-border link was built earlier this year but is currently unused.
Once the agreement is signed, Cambodians will be able to take the train from Poipet to Bangkok, and then in Thailand they can board a train all the way to Singapore, the minister said.
Cambodian Senior Minister H.E. Sun Chanthol, Minister of Public Works and Transport, held talks with his Thai counterpart H.E. Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, in Phnom Penh late last week to discuss the completion of the drafting of rail transport agreement between both neighbouring countries.
According to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the agreement is aimed to strengthen rail transport cooperation between Cambodia and Thailand based on mutual interests.
The Thai side affirmed to speed up their internal procedures so that both sides can sign the agreement as soon as possible.
For his part, H.E. Sun Chanthol sought the Thai sides support for rails in order to upgrade the 60-kilometre-long railway from Serei Sophorn to Battambang in addition to Thailands donation of a four-car train.
Thailand railThe move will be particularly beneficial for the shipping of freight between Cambodia and Thailand. Credit: Pixabay.
Cambodia and Thailand have reached an agreement on the transportation of goods and people by train across their shared border in a bid to boost trading relations between the two countries.
Local media reported that negotiations were concluded last week and that Cambodian officials are now waiting for the Thai Government to hold internal discussions ahead of signing a new agreement.
Construction works along sections of the western rail line, which stretches from Phnom Penh in Thailand to Poipet in Cambodia, ended last week. The move is expected to bring particular benefits to the freight industry, with trade between the two countries thought to be worth about $6m last year and Cambodian exports to its neighbour valued at $900m.
Today we completed discussion on the three unresolved points. Thus negotiations have ended, said Cambodia Minister of Transportation Sun Chanthol after meeting with his Thai counterpart Arkhom Termpittayapaisith last Friday.
Chanthol said at a press conference that a group comprised of officials from both countries has been established to carry out negotiations on the remaining details, which include procedures to follow when transporting goods across the border and the amount of cargo allowed to enter each country every day.
Termpittayapaisith further confirmed the decision by claiming that a signing ceremony is expected to take place in the next few months.
Connecting our railway systems will boost trade in a wide range of products, including oil, he said. It will enhance trade and investment between the two countries, and foment travelling from one country to the other.
According to Chanthol, Cambodia will receive three carriages and a train engine from Thailand as a donation ahead of the inauguration of the railway link. He added that while the link between Cambodia and Thailand has been finished, the operating schedule will be revealed after the two parties meet on Friday.
Cambodia Ministry of Public Works and Transportation spokesman Vasim Sorya told The Post that the two countries will soon negotiate plans to further reconstruct and expand joint train stations. The discussions could be called the last stage before the trains can inter-operate as the connection is already complete, he added.
Cambodia and Thailand are both reviewing draft agreements for a deal on the transportation of goods and people across their shared border, a Cambodian official said, adding that the final agreement is likely to be signed before the end of the year.
The railway systems of both countries have already been unofficially connected, but to begin transporting goods and people across the border, the countries must first reach an agreement on cross-border rail transportation.
Ly Borin, under-secretary of state of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, told Khmer Times that officials from both countries have already submitted draft agreements on cross-border rail transportation to their respective ministries.
The Thais are now awaiting the approval on the draft agreement. Once this happens, our prime ministers can go ahead and sign the final agreement, which I think will happen before the end of 2018, Mr Borin said.
The western rail line, which covers 386 kilometres, is part of a wider railway project that will connect Singapore with Kunming in Southern China, according to Sun Chanthol, the Cambodian Transport Minister.
Trade between Cambodia and Thailand was value at $6 million last year. Cambodian exports to Thailand were worth $900 million.
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