PHNOM PENH, Dec. 28 -- Cambodia's modern railway system on Friday commenced commercial rail operations on the 256- kilometer"Southern Line" between the capital city of Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville Port.
The launching was made after years of renovation with the financial support from the Asian Development Bank and development partners. "ADB welcomes this first commercial train service to the Port of Sihanoukville which marks a significant development towards the completion of the long-awaited Pan-Asian railroad -- a contiguous "Iron Silk Road" stretching from Singapore to Scotland," the bank said in a statement Friday.
Speaking at the service launching, Minister of Public Works and Transport Tram Iv Tek said the new railway will bring a range of benefits to Cambodia. "It will lower the cost of staple commodities that poor Cambodian families depend on,"he said."Also, it will improve road safety by taking dangerous cargoes, such as the fuel trucks driving between the oil terminal in Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh, off the roads."
In addition, he said, it will position Cambodia as a true sub- regional transportation hub, reducing the time and costs of transporting a range of products.
According to ADB, another 337 kilometer"Northern Line", linking Phnom Penh to Poipet and Thailand, is expected to be opened in phases between 2014 and 2015.
The total project cost of the Greater Mekong Sub-region Rehabilitation of the Railway project in Cambodia, amounting to 141.6 million U.S. dollars, is financed by an ADB loan of 84 million U.S. dollars, a Cambodian government contribution of 20.3 million U.S. dollars, an Australian grant of 21.5 million U.S. dollars, an OPEC Fund for International Development loan of 13 million U.S. dollars and a Malaysian grant of 2.8 million U.S. dollars.