ASEAN Forum Pushes for Increased Rail Capacity in the Region
“The ASEAN Community has been actively pursuing the idea of efficient and green method of transportation via the implementation of Singapore-Kunming Rail Link (SKRL),” said Mr. Abdul Ghafar bin Yusof, Deputy Under Secretary from Malaysia’s Ministry of Transport, at the opening of “ASEAN Connectivity Through Rail” Forum today.
“So far, construction and upgrading work on rail network within Member States have been progressing satisfactorily with a number of construction works anticipated to be completed in the nearest future, for example, in Malaysia and Thailand. Meanwhile, efforts to address the issue of missing links in Cambodia, Viet Nam, Thailand, Lao PDR and Myanmar is being aggressively undertaken to ensure the vision of ASEAN connectivity is achieved," the Deputy Under Secretary stressed.
The SKRL, a flagship project under the ASEAN–Mekong Basin Development Cooperation and one of the priority projects in the Master Plan for ASEAN Connectivity, serves as an impetus for integrating the region and a catalyst for economic development.
“This forum is truly representative of the active trade and investment engagements by the U.S. to support ASEAN in meeting its goals of the Master Plan for ASEAN Connectivity and the ASEAN Economic Community,” said U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN, David L. Carden, at the opening of the Forum. “We join our ASEAN colleagues in recognizing the tremendous economic potential that the rail sector has for the region, in terms of physical infrastructure and connectivity, but also the economic growth opportunities for the region as a whole,” he added.
Henry Steingass, Regional Director of the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) which sponsored the forum, said that USTDA fully shares ASEAN’s connectivity and infrastructure modernisation goals in line with the ASEAN-U.S. Connectivity Cooperation Initiative launched in 2011.
This forum aims to advance the goal of increasing rail development and efficiency in the region while fostering the participation of U.S. companies in the implementation of a range of rail sector improvement projects. Among the topics being featured during the two-day workshop are tools and practices for network planning; locomotive technologies, operation, maintenance and rehabilitation; life cycle cost considerations; signaling systems; track maintenance; project management and financing strategies for rail expansion.
A total of 120 participants are taking part in the Forum, including over 35 official delegates from across ASEAN representing state-owned and private railways, rail authorities and ministries of transportation and the ASEAN Secretariat. In addition, over 50 U.S. corporate participants and experts from 24 companies and organisations are participating both to further pursue business partnerships and to promote the dialogue with ASEAN rail leaders on expanding ASEAN-U.S. cooperation in the sector.