A major step was taken towards the completion of a Pan-Asian rail project after the first segment of an international railroad opened in Cambodia on Friday.
According to the Asian Development Bank, the 650-kilometer segment stretches from Cambodia's border with Thailand, through the capital city of Phnom Penh, and southward to Sihanoukville.
The new railway will benefit Cambodia, whose underdeveloped transportation network has driven up the price of imported and locally made goods, ADB said in a statement. The Manila-based bank is providing US$84 million to the $141-million project.
Cambodia's new railroad, which is slated for completion in 2013, will be linked to Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City to complete the Pan-Asian railway.
Cambodia and Vietnam have already signed an agreement to link their railways, ADB said.
"We are on the cusp of a contiguous Iron Silk Road stretching from Singapore to Scotland," said Kunio Senga, Director General of ADB's Southeast Asia Department. "This possibility has been talked about for decades, but today the dream has finally taken a big step toward becoming reality."