ASEAN hopes Singapore-China rail link ready by 2015
The Hindu: August 26, 2006
Kuala Lumpu - Southeast Asian nations hope a proposed 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 on Saturday.
The Asian Development Bank has provided Cambodia soft loans of US$40 million (euro33 million) to build missing links and another US$5.4 million (euro4.5 million) has been secured as grants for the project, said Ong Keng Yong, secretary-general of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
But overall progress for the rail line spanning 5,000 kilometers (3,000 miles) from Singapore to the Chinese city of Kunming has been hindered by a lack of funds and other technical issues relating to building connecting rails to link it to major towns across the region, he said.
"The work is being done on a national level to join up with the rail link but we need more funding,'' Ong told reporters after a meeting of the ASEAN-Mekong Basin Development Cooperation.
Senior officials will meet in November in Kunming to review the project and identify new sources of funds, he said. The group did not set any target date for completion but ``we must have some connection'' by the time the bloc fuse into an ASEAN Economic Community by 2015, he added.
Ong didn't say how much the project is worth but trade officials previously estimated it will cost at least 1.8 billion dollars (euro1.5 billion). Officials said construction has also been hindered by difficult terrain in some countries, clearing land mines in Cambodia and Laos, and harmonizing customs and immigration.
The railway project is expected to better bind the economies of the region and provide southern China with easier access to ASEAN markets.
ASEAN trade ministers earlier this week agreed to bring forward plans to turn the region into a single market and production base by 2015, five years earlier than originally planned. The bloc also aims to create a free trade zone with China by 2010.
Apart from the rail project, the group also needs funds worth US$44 million (euro37 million) for 15 projects involving capacity building, training and other projects to develop the Mekong Basin, said Myanmar Minister for National Planning and Economic Development, U Soe Tha.
To woo new funds, he said membership of the ASEAN-Mekong Basin Development Cooperation - currently involving only ASEAN and China - will be opened to interested parties such as the Asian Development Bank and the region's trading partners.
ASEAN hopes to revitalize rail project
Taipei Times: Aug 27, 2006
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.