Cambodian, Thai railway line on track

Cambodian, Thai railway line on track

Cambodian authorities have begun removing a traditional arch at the Poipet border gate opposite Sa Kaeo's Aranyaprathet to clear land for construction of the long-awaited Thai-Cambodian rail project, Thai officials said Wednesday.

Provincial immigration office chief Benjapol Rodsawat said the dismantling of the arch is part of the 6.5-kilometre cross-border railway linking Poipet town in Banteay Meanchey province to Sa Kaeo.

The removal work is carried out under close supervision of local Cambodian authorities, he said, adding the arch will be reinstalled near Poipet circle, about 800 metres from the current site, over the Thai-Cambodian rail route.

Pol Col Benjapol said the arch, in the style of Khmer art and architecture, was installed at the Poipet border gate more than 20 years ago.

He said the arch removal work mildly affected traffic at the border crossing and Thai officials and troops were dispatched to help direct traffic and prevent congestion.

The work came shortly after Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith revealed last month that the railway link between Thailand and Cambodia through Aranyaprathet district could be launched within two months.

The project's goal is to eventually connect Bangkok and Phnom Penh. A link between both countries' rail networks was originally established in 1942 when Sa Kaeo's Aranyaprathet was connected to Poipet, but services gradually ceased for political reasons.

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

Pol Col Benjapol also made an inspection tour Wednesday to check on construction work at a temporary border train station on the Thai side at Ban Khlong Luek border checkpoint.

The immigration office in Sa Kaeo was reportedly allocated a budget of 3 million baht to build the temporary train station at Ban Khlong Luek checkpoint.

Construction work is expected to be completed in four months.

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