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Phnom Penh Might Get $800m Sky Train Network

As construction of Saigon’s metro system slowly chugs along – with a few stops along the way – its closest sister city, Phnom Penh, is planning an urban rail system of its own.

Earlier this month the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) confirmed that it will soon start work on a feasibility study for an US$800 million sky train network, dubbed the Automated Guideway Transit (AGT). The system would run through Phnom Penh and is the result of negotiations between Japanese and Cambodian officials, reports the Phnom Penh Post.

The study, originally planned to begin in April, will now commence in August under a revised timeline and will include a breakdown of costs associated with the project, as well as suggested routes.

“The objective of the project is to construct an urban railway in Phnom Penh in order to address the increasing traffic demands, hereby contributing to mitigating traffic congestion in the capital,” Chin Kimheang, program officer at the Public Relations & Training Affairs Section for JICA Cambodia, told the newspaper, adding that a completion date for the study was not yet available.

Though details about the electric AGT are sparse, the news source shared that the line will include more than ten stations serviced by three-car trains that can hold 330 riders.

The line would include a connection from downtown Phnom Penh to the city's international airport, a trip that currently takes 45 minutes by car.

Support for the project comes as Phnom Penh faces increased congestion along its roads amid a population boom, though Seong-Cheol Kang, principal transport specialist at the Global Green Growth Institute, cautioned that the sky train on its own would not be a cure-all for such growing pains. Kang added that the local government should be prepared to take losses on the AGT if fares are to be kept low and accessible to low-income customers.

The top image depicts Bangkok's Skytrain system.

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