Jakarta, Indonesia – The USTDA-sponsored ASEAN Connectivity Through Rail Forum commenced with panels discussing the challenges and opportunities for closer cooperation between the United States and partners in Southeast Asia on accelerating both freight and passenger rail development in the region. The Forum is the third sector-specific regional workshop presented under the US-ASEAN Connectivity Cooperation Initiative, launched by USTDA during the President’s visit to Indonesia in 2011.
Throughout Southeast Asia, countries are making upgrades to increase freight and passenger rail capacity, extending and rehabilitating existing rail infrastructure, developing urban rail, and pursuing cross border rail and transport linkages. This forum is advancing 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.
“USTDA fully shares ASEAN’s connectivity and infrastructure modernization goals, as our partners in the region seek economic integration to spur greater prosperity,” said Henry Steingass, USTDA Regional Director, who led USTDA’s participation. “We’re proud to sponsor this initiative and rail project development efforts that link leading U.S. rail companies to the region’s dynamic growth in the sector.” USTDA was joined at the opening of the Forum by U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN David L. Carden. “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 Ambassador Carden. “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.”
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 fifty U.S. corporate participants and experts from 24 companies and organizations are participating both to further pursue business partnerships and to promote the dialogue with ASEAN rail leaders on expanding U.S.-ASEAN cooperation in the sector.