22 October 2010
Opening of Cambodia Railroad Puts Pan-Asian Railway On Track
KUALA LUMPUR, 22 OCTOBER, 2010: The first segment of a new international standard
railroad, co-financed by international donors including Malaysia, officially opened in Cambodia today, a major step
towards the creation of a long-awaited Pan-Asian railroad.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing US$84 million in support of the
reconstruction and repair of 650 kilometers (404 miles) of rail stretching from Cambodia's border with Thailand,
through the capital city of Phnom Penh, and southward to Sihanoukville, the country's main seaport.
Australia provided the additional US$21.5 million while Malaysia contributed 106
km (66 miles) of track worth US$2.8 million in support of the US$141 million project.
ADB said in a statement today that Cambodia allocated US$20.3 million for the rail
project while the other co-financiers include the OPEC Fund for International Development with US$13
Freight service has commenced along a 120km (75 mile) stretch of rail between
Phnom Penh and Touk Meas, near the Vietnamese border. The entire rail line is scheduled to be operational by
"We are on the cusp of a contiguous Iron Silk Road stretching from Singapore to
Scotland," said Kunio Senga, director-general of ADB's Southeast Asia Department.
"This possibility has been talked about for decades, but today the dream has
finally taken a big step towards becoming a reality."
Decades of conflict have left Cambodia's railroad in serious disrepair, with rail
traffic slowly declining to a trickle.
In some parts of the country, homemade lorries – simple, makeshift bamboo
platforms powered by water-pump motors – are the main form of rail transport along the antiquated
Cambodia's less developed transportation network and the country's higher
transportation costs result in higher prices for imported and locally-made goods compared to neighboring
ADB said the new railway would help lower the cost of staple commodities that poor
Cambodian families relied on for sustenance.
"This new railroad represents another important step for Cambodia in overcoming
its legacy of conflict," said Senga. "With better infrastructure and closer economic ties with its neighbors,
Cambodians are enjoying a peace dividend more than ever before."
Once Cambodia's new railroad is ready, only one link, between Phnom Penh and Ho
Chi Minh City, Vietnam, will remain before a Pan-Asian railway is complete.
Cambodia and Vietnam have already signed an agreement to link their railways, and
China is supporting a design study on a rail link from Phnom Penh to Loc Ninh, Vietnam.
The railway rehabilitation project is a vital component of the Greater Mekong
Subregion's southern economic corridor - linking Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam - and is a key component of Asean's
Singapore-Kunming Rail Link Project.
Toll Holdings, an Australian company, has been awarded a 30-year contract to
operate and maintain the rehabilitated railway system.