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Cambodia-Vietnam agreement brings Trans-Asian railway closer

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Cambodia and Vietnam signed an agreement on Saturday that will link the two countries' railways, an important step in the creation of a Southeast Asian rail network that will connect major cities and tourist destinations between Kunming and Singapore.

China will help Cambodia with completion of the rail link with Vietnam, according to an AFP report quoting Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong. The Cambodian segment of the 5,382 kilometer (3,344 mile) rail network is expected to cost more than US$500 million - Cambodia's domestic rail network is still in disrepair after a civil war that ended in the 1990s.

Improvement of Cambodia's rail connectivity with its Southeast Asian neighbors is expected to boost the country's small but fast-growing economy. Hor Namhong said that Cambodia-Vietnam cross-border trade in the first eight months of this year totaled US$1.7 billion.

The opening of rail traffic between Cambodia and Vietnam will add to existing Southeast Asian cross-border rail connections between Singapore and Malaysia and Malaysia and Thailand. Cambodia has a rail connection to its western neighbor Thailand – with which it has recently been engaged in a violent border dispute – but it has fallen into disuse.

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