Cambodia has announced its plan to invest $4 billion to upgrade the existing northern Phnom Penh-Poipet railway line into the first high-speed railway line in the country. This ambitious project marks a significant step towards modernizing Cambodia’s transportation network and promoting socioeconomic growth.
The new railway line, set to be completed in four years, will feature 33 stations, electric locomotives and carriages, and will be able to reach speeds of up to 160 km per hour. This will be a major improvement over the current railway network, which was built during French colonial times and has seen little change since.
The current railway line is not fully utilized due to its state of infrastructure and offers limited service to travelers, business people and goods movers.
Planned link into China’s ‘Belt & Road’ policy
The new railway line is expected to be a viable alternative to the current system and provide passenger and freight services between Cambodia and Thailand. It is also planned to link into China’s belt and road policy of high-speed trains in ASEAN and extend from Bangkok to Cambodia’s border, connecting to mainland China and Singapore.
In 2022, trade between Cambodia and Thailand reached $4 billion, with Thailand being the second largest destination for Cambodian exports. The new railway line will play a crucial role in promoting trade between the two countries and boost economic growth in the region.
Cambodia’s Public Works and Transport Minister Sun Chanthol said, “The northern Phnom Penh-Poipet high-speed rail will importantly serve transportation and promote socioeconomic growth, especially in the provinces and cities along the rail.”
The upgrade of the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway line is a significant step forward for Cambodia’s transportation network and will play a crucial role in promoting economic growth in the region. With this investment, Cambodia is positioning itself as a key player in the Southeast Asian transportation network and setting the stage for further modernization.
Developing Cambodia as the economic corridor
H.E. Chhieng Pich, Director General of Logistics, Ministry of Public Work and Transportation presented an overview of Cambodia’s infrastructure developments and their support for the development of logistics and industrial sectors in Cambodia.
According to the Director-General consistent with the vision of the Royal Government of Cambodia, as set out in its Rectangular Strategy Phase IV, to become an upper-middle-income country in 2030 and a high-income country in 2050, Cambodia is envisioned as a country seamlessly and comprehensively connected and integrated into the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).
Five pillars include:
- To transform the transport system to a comprehensive, high-quality and climate change resilience infrastructure and sustainable national transport system by 2030
- To enhance regional integration in the global supply chain through seamless transport and high connectivity in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS)
- To enhance industrial competitiveness through stronger production networks, optimum transport under efficient networks and hubs, and modal-mix
- To enhance air transport of passengers and cargo efficiently so as to boost economic activities and increase the competitiveness of the civil aviation industry
- To enhance competition in logistics through high-quality, diversified and efficient logistics infrastructure and service to respond to various demands
“Cambodia is looking to develop its economic corridors and international gateways capacity to facilitate trade between our two neighbors Thailand and Vietnam. This will be done through capacity expansion to meet increased logistics demand, faster and safer movements along economic corridors and improvement of other transport modes (railway and inland waterway) to offer alternatives,” H.E. Chhieng Pich said.
“We are also working on the improvement of import/export-related permits and inspection procedures towards a Cambodia National Single Window and ASEAN Single Window that will enable the realization of smooth and flexible border crossing procedures to meet business needs,” he added.