Construction on a 48-km stretch of railway from Poipet town to Banteay Meanchey province’s Sisophon town could begin in late 2004, joining Phnom Penh to the Cambodian-Thai border for the first time by rail, the director of Royal Railways Cambodia said on Tuesday.
Sokhom Phekawanmony said completion of the segment would link Cambodia’s rail system to a planned Asean rail line from Singapore to Kunming, China.
The Asean project, which was proposed about seven years ago, aims to build a railway that would run through Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The portion from Singapore to Thailand has been completed, as has the stretch from Vietnam to Kunming, Sokhom Phekawanmony said.
The 48-km missing link would bring Cambodia one step closer to joining the two segments, he said.
“If we’ve done that part, it means that 50 percent of the Singapore-Kunming railway is worked out,” he said.
But Sokhom Phekawanmony said Cambodia will need to spend about $16.5 million to complete the Poipet to Sisophon line.
He added that the country would have to spend an additional $100 million to upgrade the rest of the 338-km segment from Sisophon to Phnom Penh.
That cost would not include a continuation of the rail system running from Phnom Penh to the Vietnam border.
Sok Siphana, secretary of state of the Ministry of Commerce, on Monday said that Malaysia had agreed to provide $8 million worth of equipment, including rail and tracks, needed to build the 48-km line.
He added that China has shown interest in helping to finance the continuation of the railway from Phnom Penh to Vietnam’s Loc Minh province.
Sok Siphana said there were no plans yet regarding when construction on a Phnom Penh to Vietnam line might begin.
But, he estimated construction could start within the next two or three years.