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Old May 8th, 2010, 05:37 AM   #1
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Rail Transit System in Cambodia

Restoring the Kingdom's rails

Thursday, 06 May 2010 15:00
Ellie Dyer

Renovation project sees resurrection of capital’s rail station, track network

NEW life is being breathed into Phnom Penh Railway Station as a multi-million-dollar project to restore Cambodia’s decrepit rail system gathers steam.

Formally a graveyard for rusting Soviet-era locomotives, the site has been transformed into a hive of activity over the past few months as Toll Royal Railways (TRR) pours an estimated US$80,000 into renovating the Kingdom’s trains and freight stations.

Six locomotives – some armoured with thick metal sheeting and bearing the scars of Cambodia’s long civil war, a wood-fired steam engine, a passenger train and even the Royal carriage – are being refurbished in preparation for the launch of Cambodia’s new-look railway system in October this year, according to TRR officials speaking Wednesday.

The Kingdom’s rail system is undergoing a complete overhaul with $141.1 million in funding from the Asian Development Bank, AusAID and Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Companies (OPEC). It is hoped that the project will boost trade by improving the Kingdom’s railways, which were built in 1929 and last upgraded in the 1960s before civil war damaged much of the network.

“Cambodia’s railway was thought to be one of the worst networks in the world,” said David Kerr, TRR’s chief executive officer, speaking from his office nestled behind Phnom Penh’s iconic station, which opened in 1932.

According to anecdotal evidence, Kerr said, the last train to run the 264-kilometre track to Sihanoukville from Phnom Penh this year took 28 hours to reach its destination. The new service should take only eight.

But, the task of restoring the capital’s station to become a hub for a regular train service is huge.

“It was like a jungle when we first came here,” said Toll Royal Railways Chief Operation Officer John Guiry on Wednesday, wandering past rusting skeletons of freight carriages jumbled in heaps to the side of the railway site, which stretches for 4.5 kilometres.

Mountains of disused train parts were left to decay in the open, he said, as Cambodia ran a limited service, which, according to previous Post reports, garnered just $1.5 million in revenue in 2008.

Restoring relics
However, as the railway project gathers pace, time and effort are being put into the enormous task of restoring ageing models from the Czech Republic, France and Russia to run on tracks, now being transformed across the country by development partners.

“Most of these trains are 40 to 50 years old. Many have been derailed or seen combat during the Khmer Rouge regime. We are removing armour plating,” Guiry said, pointing to the bullet holes in one locomotive.

Australia-based Toll has teamed up with the Royal Group in order to carry out the station project. So far, more than $1 million has been spent improving the Phnom Penh Railway Station site, which had fallen into disrepair. Copious white ant colonies have been wiped out, and more than 2,000 square metres of rubbish have been removed from the area.

Officials with TRR, which hopes to employ up to 670 people in the future, say the project remains on schedule.

Renovated trains are being test-run on 118 kilometres of track from Phnom Penh to Touk Meas, which services Kampot’s cement industry, and preliminary runs are imminent on parts of a 338-kilometre stretch of track leading to Battambang and [Poipet], Kerr said.

Surveys are also under way on the much-anticipated link between Vietnam and Cambodia, which has been billed as bridging a gap in the proposed Trans-Asia Railway (TAR) linking Singapore to Kunming, the capital of southwestern China’s Yunnan province.

Passenger service
The feasibility of running domestic passenger trains – one of which has been refurbished – is also being investigated, and there is an intention to protect Phnom Penh’s historic station from further damage in the rainy season. The wood-burning steam engine is being repaired for “special occasions”, according to Kerr and Guiry.

Limited freight service is set to begin in October, with trains from the capital running to Sihanoukville and Battambang in May 2011 and May 2012, respectively.

However, despite the progress, concerns remain.

Toll believes that for the railway to become tenable it needs direct access to the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, which is set for renovation. Kerr called the project a “dead duck” if the link isn’t made, as without it the cost of freight transportation would spiral “dramatically”.

According to Kerr, the move is being stalled by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is funding the port project.

“Negotiations are in progress between all parties,” Kerr added.

JICA representative Iwai Masaaki and an office spokeswoman declined to comment Wednesday. The spokeswoman stated that queries regarding the railway should not be directed at the organisation.

The future of the thousands of villagers who live in the “corridor of impact” around the railway is also being considered. According to a document produced by the government’s inter-ministerial resettlement committee, about 2,629 households live in close proximity to the railway tracks affected by the renovation throughout Cambodia.

A synopsis of a January meeting, carried out earlier this year to discuss relocation and compensation in Phnom Penh, showed that some villagers are concerned about the impact of relocation on their businesses.

So far, said Kerr, the track-side population has been enthusiastic about the plans. But whether this will prove the case as the relocation plan progresses remains to be seen.
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Old May 8th, 2010, 05:40 AM   #2
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Old engines there are being refurbished - Photo by: Ellie dyer



Derelict parts litter the interior of a warehouse at the railway station - Photo by: Ellie dyer


A restored passenger car - Photo by: Ellie dyer


A group of track-side villagers - Photo by: Ellie dyer


A Chinese train ready for service - Photo by: Ellie dyer
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Old May 8th, 2010, 10:50 AM   #3
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I hope Cambodia will develop rail system. It is so useful for a country.
Siem Reap / PP could be at about more than one hour with Fast train ! And maybe three hour by normal train.
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Old May 9th, 2010, 06:01 PM   #4
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Hope Cambodia have a Train soon, And the Sky Train too, I'm sicken tired of hearing the worst in the world. Just give Cambodia some time to restore things back to order.

Last edited by LuvKhm3r; May 9th, 2010 at 11:30 PM.
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Old May 10th, 2010, 05:14 AM   #5
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The trains in Cambodia are still running and you can take any trains from Phnom Penh to Battembang or Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, but it is not running frequently.

It used to be running extremely slow (approx 12 hours to Sihanoukville and Battambang), and it is not running on schedule. Because of this, passengers would prefer to take a car or bus instead for long distance travels.

Now, there is only a weekly departure to Battambang and no longer any passenger trains to Sihanoukville.
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Old May 10th, 2010, 05:16 AM   #6
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Copy from Wikipedia

Cities served by rail

* Poipet Railway Station - on border with Thailand, currently served by Thai rail only.
* Sisophon Railway Station - district capital
* Battambang Railway Station - provincial capital
* Moung Ruessei Railway Station - district capital
* Pursat Railway Station- provincial capital
* Phnom Penh Railway Station - national capital - port on Mekong River
* Takeo Railway Station - provincial capital
* Sihanoukville Railway Station - port and provincial capital
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Old May 10th, 2010, 05:48 AM   #7
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apart from the train?? within the big city like PP, is there any public bus in operation??
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Old May 10th, 2010, 07:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by party_animals View Post


apart from the train?? within the big city like PP, is there any public bus in operation??
There's no Bus Public Service inside Phnom Penh for now. But there's a project of sky train described in another thread for PP.

There's private bus between different cities and it works fine.
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Old May 10th, 2010, 12:41 PM   #9
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Hmm, There used to be the transit service between Thai railway and Cambodian railway (Aranyaprathet - Poipet - 7 km) trice a week during the day of Sihanuk (1955 - 1961) and twice a week during the day of Lon Nol (1971-74).

During war time Thailand, IJA and TSR had finished the section from Mongkolborei (water stop - 7 km SOuth of Sisophon) to Aranyaprathet and opened for regular service (Mixed 51/52 - BKK - Battambang) on 11 April 1942. The speed limit on the Mongkol Borei to Aranyaprathet was limited to 40 kph (the wooden tresttle at Tuek Thala had the speed limit at 5 kph).

In November 1942, after the 1942 Great flood has been subsided, TSR has opened the cargo service 249/250 (BKK - Battambang - Russei) to get the rice to feed Bangkokians as well as IJA... ONLY IJA Miltary trains were allowed to cross the border to Savay Donkeo.

Such a kind of service terminated after Thai government had to return Battambang and Sisophon and Siem Reap back to French Indochina on 17 Dec 1946 even the transfer ceremony had to be held on 9 Dec 1946.

Hope that the traffic light or semaphores will be install to allow the night trains to go.

//-----------------------------------------------------------

If it is necessary, rebuild Poipet station which has bene bombarded by howitzer shells since 1980's - even thouygh the corss border track has to be shifted ...
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Last edited by Wisarut; May 10th, 2010 at 12:47 PM. Reason: addendum
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Old May 11th, 2010, 10:24 AM   #10
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Khun Seemacau,

I would like to kneo about the full name of Cambodian Railway in Khmer [romanized perferred] because I still thought that Cambodina Railway in Khmer would be "Karn Rothae Ploeng Nai Kroeng Kamphujiadhibodee"
(Rothae = vehicle Ploeng = fire)
though ... Corect me if I make a blunt mistake.
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Old May 11th, 2010, 01:39 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wisarut View Post
Khun Seemacau,

I would like to kneo about the full name of Cambodian Railway in Khmer [romanized perferred] because I still thought that Cambodina Railway in Khmer would be "Karn Rothae Ploeng Nai Kroeng Kamphujiadhibodee"
(Rothae = vehicle Ploeng = fire)
though ... Corect me if I make a blunt mistake.
train = rothae ploeng
and I dont understand the other Khmerlish writing can you tell me in English and I will tell you the Khmer translation.
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Old May 11th, 2010, 05:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wisarut View Post
Khun Seemacau,

I would like to kneo about the full name of Cambodian Railway in Khmer [romanized perferred] because I still thought that Cambodina Railway in Khmer would be "Karn Rothae Ploeng Nai Kroeng Kamphujiadhibodee"
(Rothae = vehicle Ploeng = fire)
though ... Corect me if I make a blunt mistake.
Sorry I cannot help you because I don't understand any Khmer at all.

You better ask someone in this forum who understand Khmer
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Old May 11th, 2010, 06:07 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wisarut View Post
Khun Seemacau,

I would like to kneo about the full name of Cambodian Railway in Khmer [romanized perferred] because I still thought that Cambodina Railway in Khmer would be "Karn Rothae Ploeng Nai Kroeng Kamphujiadhibodee"
(Rothae = vehicle Ploeng = fire)
though ... Corect me if I make a blunt mistake.
Hi Khun Wisarut,

It's known as Reachea Yaksmaiyean Kampuchea (រាជា​យស្ម័ុយយាន​កម្ពុជា). It's probably something like ราชายะสมัยยานกัมพูชา if written in Thai.... สมัย is pronounced "smai".

Last edited by mspolis; May 13th, 2010 at 07:35 PM.
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Old May 11th, 2010, 07:30 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KlaKhmer View Post
There's no Bus Public Service inside Phnom Penh for now. But there's a project of sky train described in another thread for PP.

There's private bus between different cities and it works fine.
thank you,
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Old May 13th, 2010, 11:37 AM   #15
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Hi Khun Wisarut,

It's known as Reachea Yaksmaiyean Kampuchea (រាជា​យស្ម័ុយាន​កម្ពុជា). It's probably something like ราชายะสมัยยานกัมพูชา if written in Thai.... สมัย is pronounced "smai".
The Khmer alphabet seems not to stack properly ... You beter show the photo of thename of Royal Cambodia Railways as either phto fro mthe actual place or more cortrect form though.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 07:34 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wisarut View Post
The Khmer alphabet seems not to stack properly ... You beter show the photo of thename of Royal Cambodia Railways as either phto fro mthe actual place or more cortrect form though.
Here is it!

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Old May 13th, 2010, 10:00 PM   #17
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^
Thanks a lot for your contribution ...
However, I found that the Modern Khmer rarely use
​យ​ស្ម័យយាន as used to be in the past. The preferred to use this wordផ្លូវដែក instead.

I just wonder if any Cambodians could show me the romanization of this word: ផ្លូវដែក .
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Old May 14th, 2010, 03:50 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wisarut View Post
^
Thanks a lot for your contribution ...
However, I found that the Modern Khmer rarely use
​យ​ស្ម័យយាន as used to be in the past. The preferred to use this wordផ្លូវដែក instead.

I just wonder if any Cambodians could show me the romanization of this word: ផ្លូវដែក .
Phlov Dek
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Old May 16th, 2010, 10:38 PM   #19
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After the line from Phnompenh to Sisophon alogn with Phnom Penh to Sihanukville have been fully rehabilitated, what is the next projects other than the fully reconstruction of the section from Sisophon to Poipet (including the fully rebuilding of Poipet station) and the section form Sihanukville station to Port of Kampongsom to enable the direct loading and unloading the container boxes between hte shops and the Container trains?
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Old May 17th, 2010, 08:26 AM   #20
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^ After this they have to connect Phnom Penh with Saigon and finish the Singapore-Kunming rail line.
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