Funds Solicited for Rail Link

Members of Asean and the broa­der international community met in Phnom Penh Tuesday and discussed ways to finish the Sing­a­pore-Kunming Project, a 5,382-km railway stretching from Singa­pore to China and missing two crucial links—both in Cambodia.

At the 26th Asean Railway Gen­eral Manager’s Conference on Tuesday, Sokhom Pheakava­mo­ny, director general of the Roy­al Railway of Cambodia, said the agen­cy is seeking $15 million from foreign donors to lay 48 km of track from Siso­phon to Poipet in Banteay Mean­chey province.

The link, which would connect Cambodia’s rail system—and eco­nomy—to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, is an RRC priority, Sokhom Pheakavamony said.

“The missing link is a very im­portant part of the Asean railway project,” he said. “It has economic potential.”

A longer-term plan calls for an­other $500 million in funds for 305 km of track connecting Phnom Penh to Vietnam’s Loc Minh province. That link would allow goods and travelers to flow from Cambodia, through Vietnam and into the Chinese province of Kunming.

“If we could complete these projects, you guys can travel by train to the rest of the Asean countries,” Sokhom Pheakava­mo­ny told a group of reporters.

He added that Malaysia has already donated 106 km of track for the Sisophon-Poipet link and was negotiating over the additional $15 million in funds with the Mini­stry of Public Works.

Opened in 1929, the Cambo­dian Railway consists of two lines, Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh to Battambang. De­spite needing more than $100 million in renovations, the 75-year-old trains and tracks continue to shuttle goods to and from the capital.

Minister of Public Works and Tran­sport Sun Chanthol told mem­bers of the conference on Tuesday that the development of rail transportation is one of the ministry’s key goals.

In his pitch for funding, the minister told attendees that an efficient Cambodian transportation network would support economic growth, poverty alleviation and regional growth and integration.

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