Source : KhmerTimes
An agreement to build a national rail system has been reached by the Royal Group and two major Chinese companies.
The joint venture will refurbish the rail link from Phnom Penh to the Thai border and upgrade the rail expressway from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville.
There will be new lines from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and from Phnom Penh to the Vietnam border.
Royal Group, led by prominent businessmen Kith Meng, signed the agreement with China-based Railway 17th Bureau Group and Sino Great Wall International Engineering at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.
Cambodia has a rail service from Phnom Penh to Preah Sihanouk province under the control of Toll Royal Railway, a private company in the Royal Group.
The service resumed operations in April after 14 years of suspended use due to poor track conditions.
Toll Royal Railway holds a 30-year concession to operate Cambodia’s rail network.
Cambodia has 612km of rail network, consisting of two lines originally constructed when the country was part of French Indochina.
Due to neglect and damage from civil war during the latter half of the 20th century, the railways fell into a dilapidated state and all services had been suspended by 2009.
Ly Borin, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, welcomed the agreement.
He said that if there was adequate investment, there would be more railway lines in the country.
“Currently, our rail speed is 50km/h,” he said.
“We hope in the agreement between Royal Group and their Chinese counterparts they will rehabilitate the lines and increase the rail speed to about 80 to 100km/h.”
The move comes as China is lobbying hard for backing to establish new land and sea infrastructure to handle the growth from its booming economy.
Cambodia has been a strong supporter of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative.
Mr Xi told the Belt and Road Forum on Monday that 100 countries and international organisations had supported and become involved in the initiative.