Phnom Penh Plans New Automatic Guideway Transit System

Public Works and Transport Minister Sun Chanthol led a Cambodian delegation from the Ministry on 15 November 2017 to visit the Yokohama Seaside Line Company, which operates the 10.6 km long, 14 station Kanazawa Automatic Guideway Transit (AGT) system in Japan.

AGT is a fully automated, driverless, grade-separated transit system in which vehicles automatically move along a guideway, usually on rubber tires.

Yokohama Seaside Line Company shared AGT Operations and Control experiences with the Cambodian delegates. More than 50,000 passengers use the AGT every day in Yokohama and there are currently nine AGTs in operation around Japan.

According to Mr. Chantol the AGT, proposed for Cambodia’s capital city Phnom Penh, will “run quietly on rubber tires, reducing noise and vibration, with maximum speeds of 60 km/h”.

Mr Chanthol added that having an AGT system will be instrumental in alleviating traffic problems in Cambodia’s capital. “The number of residents in Phnom Penh increases every year. In 2023, we will host the SEA Games, so the new transportation system will help us handle the increase in the number of tourists.” Cambodia intends to have the AGT system in operation ahead of its hosting of the South East Asia (SEA) Games in 2023.

After the Prime Minister’s official visit to Japan in August 2017, the Government of Japan agreed to provide assistance to the Kingdom of Cambodia in the construction of the AGT in Phnom Penh. Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) sent a team to conduct a complete feasibility study of the planned line. The feasibility study is expected to be finished by May 2018.

In November 2016 JICA signed a Grant Agreement with the Cambodian government to provide grant aid for the procurement of more public buses for use in Phnom Penh, where traffic congestion has become a serious challenge. In combination with this project, JICA is providing technical cooperation to strengthen the operation and management system at Phnom Penh City Bus Authority, including a review of the fare rates and improvements to the bus inspection and maintenance capacity, thereby providing comprehensive support for the bus enterprise infrastructure.

With the economic development and rapid urbanization of recent years the number of registered automobiles has increased in Phnom Penh, resulting in serious traffic congestion and a worsening urban environment. The population, which has also been growing, is predicted to reach 2.87 million people in 2035, 1.7 times the population of 2013. Given that there are a large number of deaths being caused by traffic accidents and that rising incomes are expected to boost the number of vehicles even further, sweeping traffic measures need to be implemented.

At the Japan-Cambodia KIZUNA Festival, held in February 2017, JICA’s Exhibition Corner had drawn the attention of numerous visitors, trying to encourage the participation of young people to think and find solutions relating to the traffic congestion in Phnom Penh and promoting the use of the city buses.

One hundred new buses, donated by the Chinese government, arrived in Cambodia in June 2017, to be used on five more public bus lines and contribute to reducing traffic congestion. They were handed over at a ceremony held at Diamond Island at the end of the following month of July.

Writer: John Carlo Ottaviani

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