PHNOM PENH: The new railway line that connects Phnom Penh to Poipet on the border, linking with trains from Thailand's Sa Kaeo province to Bangkok, is expected to begin operating next year.
“The new line from Phnom Penh to Poipet city is expected to be completed next year, well ahead of our previous deadline, which was 2020,” Minister of Transportation Sun Chanthol said on Tuesday.
“Now we are speeding up work on this line to have it ready by 2018, so we can have a railway connection to Thailand.”
The line, generally referred to as the western rail line, has 130 kilometres that still need to be built or repaired, with the ministry seeking US$20 million in funding from the national budget through the Ministry of Economy and Finance, according to Ly Borin, an under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.
Mr Borin also said that if their request for funds is approved, the project will be awarded to a private company through a bidding process.
The section of the line in disrepair, damaged during wartime, extends from Pursat province to the capital, Mr Borin said. Other sections of the western rail line have been fully repaired and are ready for use.
The western rail line is one of only two railway lines in Cambodia. The other one, connecting Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville province on the Gulf coast, is already in service.
The Phnom Penh-Poipet rail line is expected to play a key role in facilitating trade and the movement of people between Cambodia and Thailand, with leaders from both countries having publicly committed to tripling bilateral trade to $15 billion by the year 2020.
Mr Borin could not provide a tentative date for an official launching ceremony for the new line, but said it will probably be early next year.
Officials on both sides of the border are already working on setting up the protocols and systems for the crossing of people and goods at the border, he said.