Cambodia on track for high-speed railway

The Cambodia government has expressed its determination to build high-speed rail to link Phnom Penh with Sihanoukville and neighbouring countries.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday that the government has been conducting studies on high-speed railways connecting domestically and to neighbouring countries.

“We are conducting studies on high-speed railways connecting Phnom Penh to Preah Sihanouk province and to the border with Thailand,” the premier said during an inauguration ceremony of a 43-km road in Preah Sihanoukville province.

The Cambodia high-speed railh would be built and renovated from the existing rails, he said, adding that the traditional old-decade rails could not be used for economic development.

The Kingdom’s high-speed rail project has received in-principle financial support from the Chinese government, he said, adding that Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang has mentioned this point [rail project] during the talks on December 9.

The high-speed rails have also been planned to build connections internally to serve socio-economic development, the Prime Minister said.

Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, applauded the move, saying the rail connection will enhance economic transportation of agricultural products and industrial products better.

“The high-speed rail project will bring new investment to Cambodia, especially to the potential investment hub inside the country,” Heng told Khmer Times yesterday.

It will also ease the wide disparity between the capital and province in terms of travel for people and goods transport, Heng said.

Cambodia now has two rail lines – the southern line, connecting Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, and the northern one, linking the capital with Poipet.

Royal Railway, a subsidiary of the conglomerate Royal Group, manages and operates the railways under a concessional investment.

The current trains run at a maximum speed of only 30 km per hour.

Local logistics firms, members of the Cambodian Logistics Association have sought the possibility of a train service between China and Cambodia connecting Laos and Thailand.

Under the ASEAN Trans-Rail Link Project, the rail connection will benefit and facilitate transportation, especially the transit of goods from Cambodia to China, while currently, water transport between Cambodia and China takes between 10 and 15 days, said its president Sin Chanthy in June.

“If we consider the transportation time from Kunming, China, to Laos, and then to Thailand and Cambodia, which we need to discuss clearly for the connection, especially the cost of delivery,” he said.

Laos-China Railway was inaugurated in December 2021 after six years of construction.

The new railway line, which runs from Kunming, the capital of China’s Yunnan province, to the Lao capital Vientiane, is the first link in a pan-Asian railway linking Beijing with Singapore.

The next link in the chain will run from Vientiane, to Bangkok in Thailand.

Heng expressed hope that the new rail would be able to connect with neighbouring countries’ railway, enhancing regional connectivity.

“First step, we want to have the rail connection inside the country, and then if we can make the rail connection with Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, it would be better to boost the economy by carrying passengers, tourists, and agricultural products,” Heng said.

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