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Cambodia, Thailand Reach Agreement on Pan-Asia Railway Network

Earlier this month, Cambodia and Thailand signed a memorandum of understanding on a new railway line that will run from Bangkok to Phnom Penh.

The route, once complete, will become part of the Pan-Asia Railway Network, a series of railroads running from the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming through Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore, reports the Phnom Penh Post.

For the moment, Cambodia is focused on completing a 6.5-kilometer stretch of train track near the border town of Poipet, which it aims to finish by mid-2016.

First, we will connect the missing tracks on our side to reach the border of Thailand,” Ly Borin, spokesperson for the Cambodian Ministry of Transportation, told the Phnom Penh Post.

He added: “After the connection is ready, we will discuss the procedures to have a train run across countries, but currently it is important to connect the tracks first.” If all goes to plan, Cambodia and Thailand will offer train services across the border toward the end of this year.

The railway line, funded by the Asian Development Bank in 2010, has encountered a few hiccups in its development, however both the Thai and Cambodian governments are keen to push the project forward.

Beyond linking Thailand and its eastern neighbor, China is also in talks with several other countries to secure the remaining portions of the railway network, according to the Bangkok Post.

The Pan-Asia Railway Network will consist of three main routes. Its central line will run from China through Laos, Thailand and Malaysia before ending in Singapore, while the western route will travel from China to Myanmar and around to Bangkok. The eastern line is set to begin in Bangkok and travel through Cambodia, tapping into Vietnam's existing railway services before finishing off in Kunming.

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