Cambodia Restores Railway Link to Thailand after 45 Years, Will It Boost Southeast Asian Trade?

Cambodia Restores Railway Link to Thailand after 45 Years, Will It Boost Southeast Asian Trade?

Cambodia has recently reopened the final stretch of a railway running from the capital Phnom Penh to the border with Thailand. New railway lines in the region are expected to give a fillip to economic activity.

Cambodians were proud when the first train in decades left the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh for border town Poipet last month, effectively connecting the northern part of Cambodia with the south.   

This rail line will soon cross the border and connect with Thailand. It's expected to become popular among travelers and boost trade between Thailand and Cambodia.

Cambodian train on operation. Image: AFP/Getty Images
Cambodian train on operation. Image: AFP/Getty Images


Sitting in the train to Poipet on a quiet Sunday morning, music teacher Hang Sothanun said that he's happy that he can now take the train.

"I have to travel all over the country, most of the time by bus or by car. But the train is really nice. It's relaxing and it offers a very nice view of the countryside," he told DW.

During decades of war and poverty, Cambodia's railway lines, which were initially built at the time of the French colonial rule, were severely damaged and neglected. Only two years ago, the first line in the country was reopened, connecting Phnom Penh to the coastal city Sihanoukville.


Cambodia opens Thai border rail link. Image: Railway Gazette
Cambodia opens Thai border rail link. Image: Railway Gazette

A good alternative?

At present, the train line ends in Poipet, a Cambodian town on the border with Thailand. But the train is expected to soon make it all the way to the Thai capital Bangkok. Observers say this could bolster trade ties between the two countries.

Last year, trade flows between Thailand and Cambodia were valued at $6.16 billion (€5.3 billion), an increase of almost 10 percent compared with 2016. The neighbors hope to boost that to $15 billion by 2020.

To achieve that goal, a bilateral working group was established earlier this year. It has been assigned to address trade issues, attract Thai investors to Cambodia and monitor the progress of initiatives, the Khmer Times reported.


Source : DW

Indah Gilang Pusparani

Indah is a researcher at Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Penelitian dan Pengembangan Daerah Kota Cirebon (Regional Development Planning and Research Agency of Cirebon Municipality). She covers More international relations, tourism, and startups in Southeast Asia region and beyond. Indah graduated from MSc Development Administration and Planning from University College London, United Kingdom in 2015. She finished bachelor degree from International Relations from University of Indonesia in 2014, with two exchange programs in Political Science at National University of Singapore and New Media in Journalism at Ball State University, USA. She was awarded Diplomacy Award at Harvard World Model United Nations and named as Indonesian Gifted Researcher by Australian National University. She is Researcher at Regional Planning Board in Cirebon, West Java. She previously worked as Editor in Bening Communication, the Commonwealth Parliament Association UK, and diplomacy consulting firm Best Delegate LLC in USA. Less
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