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Thailand-Cambodia Railway Reopens After 45 Years

Traveling between the two ASEAN capitals is now a reality thanks to recent efforts by Thailand and Cambodia to reconnect their defunct railway.

According to Nikkei Asian Review, on April 22, Thailand and Cambodia held a ceremony at a Thai border post to commemorate the reopening of the railway line, which links Aranyaprathet in Thailand with Poipet in Cambodia. In attendance were Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. The pair convened on the Thailand side and finished the inaugural trip together to Poipet on a train cabin donated by Thailand.

Last year, Cambodia also relaunched a 370-kilometer stretch of railway between Poipet and Phnom Penh, making inter-capital trips between the two countries possible.

The plan to revive the lost railway was bilaterally approved in 2015 and re-establishment efforts were completed recently, 45 years after train service was shut down due to tension between the two nations over border issues. While infrastructure for the railway route is operational, regular service won’t actually begin until the two sides can settle on a timetable, reports the Bangkok Post. This could take until the end of this year.

Beside diplomatic implications, the railway can also provide both sides with economic gains. Thailand’s automobile, electric machinery and textile industries are facing rising labor costs, which could be mollified by shifting labor-intensive operations to Cambodia. Before, trucks were the only option to do so, posing logistical problems for Thai firms. Tourism services in both countries can expect to see a boost in interest from travelers keen to check out the new train service as well.

[Photo via Facebook page ทีมพีอาร์การรถไฟแห่งประเทศไทย]

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