Passenger trains have started operating again in Cambodia, for the first time in 14 years.
The new service from the capital Phnom Penh to the coastal town of Sihanoukville got underway on 9 April, in time for the Khmer New Year holidays. The line will be operated by Royal Railway, which holds a 30-year concession to operate Cambodia’s rail network.
The Southern Line stretches 266km between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. Trains will be able to carry approximately 400 people in five carriages, with standard carriages equipped with fans and VIP sections with air-conditioning.
The trains won’t be fast however; the journey will last about eight hours with an average speed of just 33kph. This makes it significantly slower than travelling by road, but Royal Railway insisted that the ride will be “cheaper than the bus service”.
Initially there will be two trains per day, one in each direction, and Royal Railway is also planning to offer private charter services.
Cambodia has a total of 612km of railway track, much of it dating back to the French colonial era. But plans are underway to expand and modernise the network. Cambodia is included in the broader Trans-Asian Railway project, with services eventually expected to be launched linking Phnom Penh with the Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City.