Railway to link up Thailand, Cambodia within 2 months

Railway to link up Thailand, Cambodia within 2 months

Travellers leave Thailand via the Sa Kaeo province district town of Aranyaprathet, and arrive at the first station in western Cambodia. (Photos via Google Maps)
Travellers leave Thailand via the Sa Kaeo province district town of Aranyaprathet, and arrive at the first station in western Cambodia. (Photos via Google Maps)

A long-awaited transnational railway link between Thailand and Cambodia through Aranyaprathet district of Sa Kaeo could be launched within two months, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith says.

The minister made the comments Thursday after representatives from Cambodia's Ministry of Public Works and Transport visited the Transport Ministry to discuss logistics planning between the countries.

He said one of Thailand's older diesel-powered trains will operate the route. The train, meant to carry only passengers, will have three carriages, he added.

"The goal is to deliver the train by either next month or July, but negotiations for a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Thailand and Cambodia are ongoing," Mr Arkhom said. The number of trains that will service the route has not yet been finalised.

"Other small details remain to be agreed upon, such as the jurisdiction of domestic bodies when it comes to the train's maintenance," Mr Arkhom added.

He said this includes discussions regarding which domestic authority will be responsible for fixing the trains if they break down in the other country. Once a clear deadline is set for the opening, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will preside over the delivery ceremony.

The transnational railway's objective is to eventually connect the capital cities of Bangkok and Phnom Penh.

At present, the railway connects Bangkok to Sa Kaeo, which borders Cambodia, but much of the Cambodia's railways remain ravaged by the Vietnam War and the Khmer Rouge.

A link between both countries' rail networks was originally established in 1942 when Sa Kaeo's Aranyaprathet was connected to Poipet, a popular gambling town in Cambodia's far northwestern province of Banteay Meanchey. However, services gradually ceased because of political reasons.

Cambodia's railways are currently being refurbished by its government with funding from the Asian Development Bank, the Australian Agency for International Development and Australian company Toll Group, headquartered in Australia. The group's parent company is Japanese state-owned conglomerate Japan Post Holdings.

Railway services from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville in the South resumed in April 2016. Last month, services from Poipet to Battambang were also reinstated.


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