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Cambodia

Cambodia’s missing railway link to Thailand rebuilt after 45 years

There are plans to offer passenger train service eventually from Phnom Penh to Bangkok, although no date has been set

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2018, 8:24pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2018, 8:32pm

A missing 48km stretch of railway that connects the capital Phnom Penh to the Thai border has been rebuilt, 45 years after it was destroyed in the 1970s during the Cambodian civil war.

Passenger trains began operating on Wednesday between the border town of Poipet and Sisophon, a Cambodian provincial capital.

There are plans to offer passenger train service eventually from Phnom Penh to Bangkok, although no date has been set. Cambodian minister of transport Sun Chanthol said negotiations with Thailand on a border-related matter are yet to be finalised.

Some parts of the railroad between Sisophon and Phnom Penh also remain under renovation, work expected to be completed later this year.

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The railway link, completed in February, adds a new transport route to the hitherto road-based Southern Economic Corridor, which links Bangkok via Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam.

A 386km stretch of railroad between Phnom Penh and Poipet was completed in 1942 after 13 years of work. But the 48km stretch between Sisophon and the border town of Poipet was heavily damaged in 1973.

In 2009, the Asian Development Bank provided US$13 million to rebuild a 42km segment of the tracks, leaving the Cambodian government to rebuild the remaining 6km.

That segment was originally to be completed by mid-2016, but was delayed several times by legal hurdles and land disputes with those living along the railway, according to Vasim Sorya, director general of the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation.