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ADB to help Mekong nations

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a technical assistance grant to help countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) achieve greater connectivity through co-ordinated railway development.

The ADB grant will assist GMS countries in preparing a detailed plan for setting up the GMS Railway Co-ordination Office (RCO), including a business and financing plan for its first five years of operation.

The RCO will be jointly managed by members of the GMS, which includes Cambodia, China’s Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam.

Railways in the GMS countries have developed independently. With the exception of a connection between China and Viet Nam, the GMS countries’ national railways are not interconnected, according to an ADB press release.

“The initiative to establish the RCO reflects the growing realisation by the GMS countries of the need for an interconnected and integrated railway network in the subregion,” said James Lynch, director for transport and urban development in ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.

In view of increasing subregional trade, growing concerns over climate change and sharply fluctuating fuel costs, the GMS countries have progressively recognised the importance of upgrading their national railway networks and interconnecting these with those of their neighbours.

Recognising that an integrated railway system offers an efficient and environmentally friendly transport mode to link their economies, the GMS countries requested ADB’s assistance in undertaking a GMS Railway Strategy Study in 2009.

The study led to the development of a Strategic Framework for Connecting GMS Railways, which recommended the establishment of the RCO.

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