On April 22, Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha officially inaugurated the railway link between the two countries. The two officials travelled together from Khlong Luek railway station, in Aranyaprathet district in east Thailand’s Sa Kaeo Province, to Poipet station in Banteay Meanchey province, in western Cambodia.
The two countries reconnected their railway networks after more than 40 years since they were separated, with both governments expecting it will improve transportation and boost trade.
The two prime ministers witnessed a signing ceremony at a Thai border post before riding together to the Poipet on a train donated by Thailand. Thailand donated a diesel multiple unit (DMU) to Cambodia, which was manufactured by Japan’s Hitachi and comprises four carriages, each able to carry 80 passengers.
“The agreement on joint railway traffic, and the connection of our railways after they were separated in 1974 due to the war, will improve rail transport, which is an effective, cheap, and safe transport method. The connection plays an important part in the development of the economies of Cambodia and Thailand and helps improve connectivity with other Asean and Greater Mekong Subregion countries. The railway from Phnom Penh to Poipet has been restored by the Cambodian government. We now have a vision and a specific plan to develop the railway network in Cambodia and to increase its popularity among Cambodians,” Cambodian Prime Minister said at the ceremony.
The 386-km Phnom Penh-Poipet line had been previously fully restored by the Cambodian government, which is expecting to receive 140-km of used track from Thailand after Bangkok gave the green light to a request made by the Thailand. Currently, Cambodia lacks the necessary steel for railway development and Thailand has an excess of 140-km of used track.
“I firmly expect that trade between the two countries will increase. The connection of our rail will facilitate cargo transport and make it cheaper,” Cambodian Minister of Transport said. Currently, Cambodia and Thailand now trade about USD 6 billion worth of goods a year.
According to Cambodian officials, the Stung Bot-Ban Nong Ian Friendship Bridge will be used exclusively for cargo transport. “The opening of this new bridge marks a new page in the history of relations between Cambodia and Thailand and will enhance cross-border trade between the two countries,” Cambodian Prime Minister added. The bridge allows freight transport within the Greater Mekong Subregion, from Bangkok to Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the new bridge will boost cooperation in other sectors, including culture, education, and agriculture. “The bridge is a great achievement for the two countries and a gift the two governments offer to their people and to all people in Asean. Cambodia now has two railways, the southern railway, linking Phnom Penh with Preah Sihanouk in the coast, and the northern one, connecting the capital to Poipet city,” Thai Prime Minister said.