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Railways

The existing railway system in Cambodia consists of two lines: the 264 km Southern Line (SL) from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville City and the 336 km Northern Line (NL) from Phnom Penh to Poipet on the Thai border. However, the last 48 km of the NL from Sisophon to Poipet was entirely missing. Current situation of railway facilities is shown in below table.

Situation of Railway Facilities

Item

Northern Line (NL)

Southern Line (SL)

Length (km)

336 (including 48km missing line)

264km

Section

Phnom Penh – Kampong Chhnang – Pursat – Battambang – Sisophon – Poipet

Phnom Penh -Takeo -Kampot -Sihanoukville

Construction Year

1929-1942

1960-1969

Source: Infrastructure and Regional Integration Technical Working Group (2010)

Infrastructure of both lines was in poor condition due to the damages caused during the civil war, the trains operated at a speed less than 15-20 km/h. To rehabilitate the entire railway network and improve the operation, the Royal Government has concluded 30-year concession agreement with “Toll Holdings” of Australia in June 2009. ADB and AusAID agreed to fund US$140m for the network and infrastructure upgrading work, which includes the line reinstatement of 48km missing line between Poipet and Sisophon and the construction of new inter-modal freight terminal on outskirts of Phnom Penh[1]. The rehabilitation work aims to upgrade the NL to take 20 tons of freight at maximum speed of 50 kilometer per hour and the SL to carry 15 tons of freight. Currently Toll holds 55% share and Royal Group of Cambodia has 45% in the railway concessionaire, Toll Royal Cambodia.

Following the conclusion of concession agreement, the Department of Railway was created under the supervision of Ministry of Public Works and Transportation by Sub-Decree #163 (RGC) of October 1, 2009, and the legal status of Royal Railway of Cambodia as a public enterprise was terminated as from November 15, 2009 by Sub-Decree # 164 of the same date.

As the rehabilitation work started, all the train operation on NL and SL was suspended from November 2009. On October 1, 2010, however, the rehabilitation work of railway section between Phnom Penh and Touk Meas, which locates at 118km from Phnom Penh and near Kampot, has been completed and currently a cargo train is being operated once or twice per week carrying cement from Kampot to Phnom Penh. The whole route from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville City is expected to be reopened at sometime in 2012. Upon completion of rehabilitation work of whole SL route, Toll Royal Cambodia expects to transport containers, construction materials, oil, coal and cement from Sihanoukville or Kampot to Phnom Penh. It is said that a train of 1-km long may be operated mainly for container transportation. In order to meet the requirements of the container transportation by railway, a new container handling yard is planned to be constructed between the Sihanoukville Port and Sihanoukville railway station.

Regarding NL, the rehabilitation work of a section between Phnom Penh and the separating point of NL and SL, which locates at 32km from Phnom Penh, has already been completed and a partial railway service has begun since April 2011. The reinstating work of a section of 48-km “Missing Line” between Poipet and Sisophone on NL has started in 2008. Although the work has been disturbed repeatedly by floods, it is expected to be reopened at sometime in 2012.

Nevertheless, it is still unknown when Cambodia railway will be connected with State Railway of Thailand because no concrete plan for restoring the iron bridge which exists between Poipet and Thai border has been declared. If two railways are reconnected, the volume of railway transportation on NL is expected to increase drastically in terms of passengers and commodities. A complex of the Angkor Wat temple is located at 150km east of Poipet. Reconnection of these railways will potentially draw a large number of tourists from Thailand as well. It is also noted that apart from tourism, the economy of western Cambodia is tightly connected with that of Thailand. Therefore, the railway reconnection is expected to boost Cambodian economy, especially its local cities such as Sisophon and Battambang.

 

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