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Thailand-Cambodia Stretch of Pan-Asia Railway Nearing Completion

Cambodia and Thailand are set to hold a ceremony early next year to celebrate the official opening of the much-delayed railway that will connect Phnom Penh and Bangkok.

According to the Khmer Times, Ly Borinan, Under Secretary of State at Cambodia’s Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MPWT), said last week that “by early next year we will organise the official connection of the railway line between Cambodia and Thailand, and premiers of both countries are scheduled to preside over the ceremony.”

The new railway will link the two countries’ capitals via Cambodian city Poipet, which shares the border with Aranyaprathet in Thailand. The connection is part of the under-construction Pan-Asia Railway Network which ultimately will consist of three main routes that link China, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Map courtesy of James Clark at Nomadic Notes. Click here for a larger image.

Only a kilometer of the Thailand-Cambodia railway on the Cambodian side remains to be finished. The project originally broke ground on the final 48-kilometer stretch of track between Poipet and Serei Saophoan City in February 2008, with the original completion date set for 2009, as reported by Cambodia Daily.

Borinan cites procedural difficulties, bad weather and problems with residents seeking compensation or relocation as some reasons behind the delay.

Officials expect the railway to provide great economic benefit to both Cambodia and Thailand. Mey Kalyan, a senior advisor to Cambodia’s Supreme National Economic Council told the Khmer Times in January: “When the railway is in operation, it will boost efficiency of the transport of goods and agricultural products because of low transport fees.”

A spokesperson for Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce also shared with the newspaper that “achieving US$15 billion in cross-border trade by 2020 is possible due to strong ties between both governments.” Discussions remain over border fees.

[Top photo via The Bangkok Post]

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