Sun, Aug 27, 2006 - Page 11 News List

ASEAN hopes to revitalize rail project

AP , KUALA LUMPUR

Southeast Asian nations hope a proposed US$15 billion major railway project linking Singapore to southern China will be ready by 2015 to facilitate the flow of goods and people across the region, officials said yesterday.

The Asian Development Bank recently provided Cambodia soft loans of US$40 million to build missing links and another US$5.4 million has been secured as grants for the project, said Ong Keng Yong, secretary-general of the 10-member ASEAN.

China, which last month launched a rail track from Beijing to Tibet, has also shown renewed interest in ASEAN's plan for a rail line spanning 5,000km from Singapore to Kunming in China, he said.

However, overall progress of the project has been hindered by a lack of funds and other technical issues in connecting the rail to major towns across the region, he said.

"We want to revitalize the railway project which will be good for the region. With the rah-rah after the opening of the Tibetan line, I believe we can move faster," Ong said after a meeting of the ASEAN-Mekong Basin Development Cooperation.

"Work is being done on a national level to join up with the rail link, but we need more funding," he said.

A rail line already runs from Singapore to Bangkok. From Bangkok, Ong said there are plans for two separate rail lines to Kunming. One rail track will snake across Cambodia and Vietnam, with a connecting track to Laos, while the other line will cut west through Myanmar.

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