Thailand and Cambodia agree to speed up international rail connection

The prime-minister of Thailand and his Cambodian counterpart have agreed to speed up the reconnection of a rail link between the two nations. The leaders set a target of 2019 to relaunch the Phnom Penh to Bangkok link at a meeting in Phnom Penh yesterday.

The aim is to inaugurate passenger services on the line to facilitate ease of travel between the Southeast Asian neighbours. The Thai side of the connection is good to go. The State Railway of Thailand operates trains between Bangkok and Aranyaprathet.

The last six-kilometre stretch of the line from Aranyaprathet to the border was last used for passenger traffic just after WWII. Thailand has refurbished this section of the line and the only thing missing now is trains. 

On the Cambodian side of the border, trains between Poipet and Battambang have not since run WWII either and the tracks have been ripped up in numerous places. Services ran on the Battambang-Phnom Penh section until eight years ago, but were scrapped due to the poor state of repair of the line and the trains.

Cambodia has been relaying missing sections of track and renewing ones that are extant. 12GO ASIA notes that the projects have been mired in delays with problems such as heavier than normal monsoon rains last year.

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