Thailand-Cambodia rail link delayed again

Thailand-Cambodia rail link delayed again

The track between Aranyaprathet district in Sa Kaeo and Poi Pet town in Cambodia is already connected. (Photo by Sawat Ketkaew)
The track between Aranyaprathet district in Sa Kaeo and Poi Pet town in Cambodia is already connected. (Photo by Sawat Ketkaew)

The train service between Thailand and Cambodia, which was expected to begin operations early this year, may be delayed due to compensation issues with people living along a one-kilometre stretch of track in Poipet town.

The rail line was scheduled to be connected by the end of 2016 and officials repeatedly said the official launching ceremony would be early this year.

However, the ceremony’s date has still not been revealed because the track has not been completely laid due to issues compensating the people living along it, said Cambodian Transport Ministry spokesman Va Simsorya.

“Laying of the track is not finished,” the Khmer Times quoted him as saying. “There are still issues with the resettlement of villagers.

Only one kilometre of track remains unfinished because compensation issues with people living along the rail line in Poipet have not been solved,” Simsorya said.

“Because of this, we cannot yet set a specific date for the official ceremony,” he added. “If the project is technically not finished, we cannot say anything for the moment.”

The track between Cambodia and Thailand is already connected from Poipet to Aranyaprathet district in Sa Kaeo, according to the spokesman.

Cambodian Transport Minister Sun Chanthol, who hopes the train service will boost trade and facilitate travel, said in December that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart, Prayut Chan-o-cha, would witness the official launching ceremony in early 2017.

After being put in service, the train from Banteay Meanchey province’s Sisophon town to the Thai border will have a maximum speed of 50 kilometres per hour.

Economic experts have said that linkage of the two countries by rail will contribute to boosting two-way trade volume by facilitating travel and the transport of goods.

Mey Kalyan, a senior advisor to the government’s Supreme National Economic Council, said previously he was optimistic the linkage would attract investors from Thailand to Cambodia because it would be cheaper to transport goods.

“When the railway is in operation, it will boost efficiency of the transport of goods and agricultural products because of low transport fees,” he said. “Foreign investors like the Japanese and [South] Koreans may come to Poipet because Cambodia has cheaper labour than Thailand.”

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