Passenger trains revived in Cambodia after 14-year-hiatus

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Cambodia railway wagonScheduled passenger train services between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville will resume on April 9 after having been suspended for 14 years, according to a statement issued by Cambodian company Royal Railway on March 28. It is the next step in the revival of Cambodia’s railway system three years after the route has been reopened for cargo transport.

However, it is not going to be a high-speed connection. Royal Railway, which holds a 30-year concession to operate the country’s rail network, said the journey along the 266-kilometer Southern Line will take 8.5 hours, which makes an average speed of 32 km/h. Regular operations are also subject to a successful completion of an eight-day trial run.

Services are planned in both directions. Trains will leave the capital, as well as Sihanoukville, daily at 7am and stop in Takeo and Kampot. A one-way ticket will cost about $7 for both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned carriages (which is cheaper than the bus service, which, in turn, is significantly faster), and the two trains will be able to carry between 130 and 165 passengers each.

Cambodia railway map
Click to enlarge

Cambodia has a total of 612 kilometers of railway track comprising two lines, apart from the Southern Line the Phnom Penh-Battambang line (Western Line). Much of the network is dating back to the French colonial era. Due to a lack of proper maintenance and damage from the Vietnam War, the 1970s civil war, the Khmer Rouge era and the Vietnamese occupation during the latter half of the 20th century, the railways were in a dilapidated state and all services had to be suspended.

The railways are currently being rehabilitated by the Cambodian government with funding from the Asian Development Bank, Australian Agency for International Development and Australian company Toll Holdings.The Western Line resumed cargo traffic in 2010.

Plans are underway to complete a missing link in the Trans-Asian Railway. Cambodia is included in the broader Trans-Asian Railway project, with services eventually expected to linked Phnom Penh with Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City by reviving the Western Line  and adding new railway tracks which would complete the rail link from Singapore to Kunming via Cambodia and Vietnam, boosting tourism and business and also support a revival of Cambodia’s mining industry with the help of Chinese investors.

In January, the Cambodian government said it expected to restore its rail link to the Thai border by the end of this year.

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Scheduled passenger train services between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville will resume on April 9 after having been suspended for 14 years, according to a statement issued by Cambodian company Royal Railway on March 28. It is the next step in the revival of Cambodia's railway system three years after the route has been reopened for cargo transport. However, it is not going to be a high-speed connection. Royal Railway, which holds a 30-year concession to operate the country’s rail network, said the journey along the 266-kilometer Southern Line will take 8.5 hours, which makes an average speed of 32 km/h....

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Cambodia railway wagonScheduled passenger train services between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville will resume on April 9 after having been suspended for 14 years, according to a statement issued by Cambodian company Royal Railway on March 28. It is the next step in the revival of Cambodia’s railway system three years after the route has been reopened for cargo transport.

However, it is not going to be a high-speed connection. Royal Railway, which holds a 30-year concession to operate the country’s rail network, said the journey along the 266-kilometer Southern Line will take 8.5 hours, which makes an average speed of 32 km/h. Regular operations are also subject to a successful completion of an eight-day trial run.

Services are planned in both directions. Trains will leave the capital, as well as Sihanoukville, daily at 7am and stop in Takeo and Kampot. A one-way ticket will cost about $7 for both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned carriages (which is cheaper than the bus service, which, in turn, is significantly faster), and the two trains will be able to carry between 130 and 165 passengers each.

Cambodia railway map
Click to enlarge

Cambodia has a total of 612 kilometers of railway track comprising two lines, apart from the Southern Line the Phnom Penh-Battambang line (Western Line). Much of the network is dating back to the French colonial era. Due to a lack of proper maintenance and damage from the Vietnam War, the 1970s civil war, the Khmer Rouge era and the Vietnamese occupation during the latter half of the 20th century, the railways were in a dilapidated state and all services had to be suspended.

The railways are currently being rehabilitated by the Cambodian government with funding from the Asian Development Bank, Australian Agency for International Development and Australian company Toll Holdings.The Western Line resumed cargo traffic in 2010.

Plans are underway to complete a missing link in the Trans-Asian Railway. Cambodia is included in the broader Trans-Asian Railway project, with services eventually expected to linked Phnom Penh with Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City by reviving the Western Line  and adding new railway tracks which would complete the rail link from Singapore to Kunming via Cambodia and Vietnam, boosting tourism and business and also support a revival of Cambodia’s mining industry with the help of Chinese investors.

In January, the Cambodian government said it expected to restore its rail link to the Thai border by the end of this year.

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