The Singapore-Kunming Rail Link (SKRL) is a pan-Asian high-speed railway network being developed to connect the countries of Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Republic of China, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The 6,617.5km-long, meter-gauge railway network is being developed with an estimated investment of $15bn, under the ASEAN-Mekong Basin Development Cooperation (AMBDC) which was formed to encourage economic integration among the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.
The project will link the cities in ASEAN countries with Kunming, the capital city of China’s Yunnan Province.
Proposed under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the railway network aims to connect countries for encouraging cross-border passenger/cargo transportation and tourism between the countries.
The Singapore-Kunming railway network will include three main routes from Kunming, China, to Bangkok, Thailand. The eastern route of the network will be laid via Vietnam and Cambodia while the central route will be via Laos and the western route will pass through Myanmar.
The common line of the railway network will link Singapore and Malaysia with Thailand.
The missing links for the network will be developed in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. A spur line will be developed in Laos while rehabilitation works associated with the project are being undertaken in Cambodia, Malaysia, and Thailand.
The Singapore-Kunming rail network in Thailand will be developed in two phases. The first phase will be a 256km line running from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima, while the second phase will connect Nakhon Ratchasima with Nong Khai.
The rail network in Malaysia will include the east-coast railway link from Port Klang to Kota Baru. The network will also include the Kuala Lumpur to Singapore high-speed rail line.
The China-Laos railway line of the central route will be a standard gauge single-track passing through 33 stations. It will have 72 tunnels covering a length of 183.9km and 170 bridges that are 69.2km-long.
Passenger trains on the line will run at a maximum speed of 160km/h while freight trains will run at speeds of up to 120km/h.
The Laos segment of the SKRL network will be connected to the section of Thailand. Construction on the line began in 2016 and is scheduled to be completed in 2021.
The western route involves the development of a 1,920km-long line between Kunming and Yangon, Myanmar, through Ruili at the China-Myanmar border.
Line construction will be undertaken in two phases, which will involve the development of the Kunming-Ruili and Ruili-Yangon sections.
The China-Myanmar railway line will allow operations up to a maximum speed of 140km/h.
A new line will be constructed in Myanmar from Thambyuzayat to Three Pagoda Pass.
The SKRL section in Thailand will include a 153km-long line from Namtok to Three Pagoda Pass in the Myanmar border and a 6km-long line between Aranyaprathet and Klongluk.
The new links developed in Cambodia include a 48km-long line between Poipet (Thailand border) and Sisophon and a 254km-long line from Phnom Penh to Loc Ninh (Vietnam border). The section between Phnom Penh and Poipet was completed in 2018.
The Singapore-Kunming rail link in Vietnam will include a 119km-long section connecting Mu Gia, Tan Ap, and Vung Anh, as well as a 129km-long line between Loc Ninh and Ho Chi Minh.
A spur line to be developed in Laos will include two sections connecting Vientiane to Thakhek and Mu Gia.
The Singapore-Kunming rail link project also involves rehabilitation of multiple lines along the three corridors. The rehabilitation works in Cambodia will include upgrades to a 257km-long section from Bat Doeung to TrapangSre, a 306km-long section from Bat Doeung to Sisophan, and a 9km-long section from Phnom Penh to Samrong.
Four different sections in Malaysia are being converted into double-track electrified railways, as part of the SKRL project.
The proposed sections to be upgraded in Laos include Nongkhai-Vientiane-Thakhek-Mu Gia, Vientiane-Luang Prabang-Boten, Chong Mek-Pakse-Savannakhet-Laobao, and Mukdahan-Savannakhet-Lao Bao.
Track rehabilitation works in Thailand were completed in May 2014. The single-track lines, including Map Kabao-Thanon Chira line, Thanon Chira Junction-Khon Kaen Junction line, Nakhon Pathom-Hua Hin line, and Prachuap Khiri Khan-Chumphon line were upgraded to double-track lines.
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