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.
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.
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