‘Bold plan’ for
Mekong area rail link approved
A “bold” plan for a railway system connecting more than 300 million people who live around one of the world’s great rivers, the Mekong, was approved Friday, officials said.
The six nations’ national railway systems do not link up except for a line that connects
The plan cites four possible ways of connecting the railways but it says the most viable route would stretch from Bangkok to Phnom Penh, then Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, and finally up to Nanning and Kunming, largely using existing lines or those already under construction.
“We think it’s realistic to do one of the routes by 2020,” said Lawrence Greenwood, a vice-president with the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
“Having said that, it is certainly bold and ambitious,” he told reporters.
The only missing link on that route would be between
This does not include roughly seven billion dollars in additional funding needed to upgrade the existing lines.
By 2025, an estimated 3.2 million passengers and 23 million tonnes of freight are forecast for the completed route, the document says.
The goal coincides with an effort by
Creating the corridors of investment and development will require a smoothing of procedures for cross-border transport and trade, the ministers said in a joint statement.
Business leaders and other experts have said there are still too many bureaucratic hurdles to a free flow of regional goods.
GMS is an ADB-supported programme that began 18 years ago to promote development through closer economic links between
Cambodian minister Cham Prasidh said the rail link would be a cheap way of transporting goods to the
But he said that while the nations around the
Cham Prasidh, Senior Minister and Minister of Commerce, said the potential of the 4,800-kilometre (2,976-mile) river has not been fully tapped as the region develops economic corridors, which he likened to arteries.
“But we forget the heart and the
Vo Hong Phuc,
But he said water resources are under the jurisdiction of another body, the Mekong River Commission.
Although they are growing fast, the Mekong nations — except for