Cambodia Trains

Currently there is a single train line in Cambodia which has passenger services running on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. This service started in May 2016 following a suspension of all passenger train services in Cambodia since 2009. The train runs from Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, to Sihanoukville, the country’s main seaside resort town, with stops on route at Takeo and Kampot. 

Angkor Wat near Siem Reap in Cambodia
Angkor Wat near Siem Reap in Cambodia

Under French colonial rule a total of 612 km of train track was laid in Cambodia, most of which fell into disrepair due to war and lack of investment. However, there is light on the horizon with the planned rehabilitation of the track between Poipet, on the border with Thailand, and Phnom Penh. New track is under construction between Aranyaprathet in Thailand and Poipet in Cambodia to connect the Thai Railway Network to the Cambodian Railway Network which should hopefully (within the next five years) make it possible to travel by train from Bangkok to Phnom Penh. Even more exciting are plans for three new railway lines connecting Phnom Penh to Vietnam and Laos allowing train travel from Cambodia through most of the mainland countries of the ASEAN groups of South East Asian Nations.

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Planned Train Lines in Cambodia

Three new train lines in Cambodia are being planned with a fourth existing line to be repaired:

  • Poipet to Phnom Penh by train: Work is under way on this project to restore the line from the Thai border town of Poipet to Phnom Penh. Sections of line have remained in use for freight traffic. A connecting train track from Aranyaprathet in Thailand to Poipet is nearly complete, with funding from the Thai Government and the gift of a train to run on the line. However, as of October 2017, the project has stalled because of opposition from residents on the Cambodian side of the border in Poipet because completing the line means knocking down their homes.
  • Phnom Penh to Siem Reap by train: Siem Reap is the closest town to Angkor Wat and Royal Railways of Cambodia are keen to install a train line from Phnom Penh to Poipet vis Siem Reap. The existing train line from Poipet to Phnom Penh runs to the South of the vast Tonle Sap lake and the commercial benefits of building a train line from both the capital city of Cambodia and from the Thai border to Cambodia’s number 1 tourist attraction, Angkor Wat, make this an attractive project and with a realistic prospect of a decent return on the investment.
  • Phnom Penh to Vietnam via Sunol: This train line is being proposed as part of the Chinese Plan to connect China to Singapore via Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia as one of the three routes of the Pan Asia Railway Network.
  • Sunol to the Laos Border via Stung Treng: This is the least likely of the proposed train routes to be built in the near future. Laos currently has no railway network, and Chinese plans to build one as part of the Pan Asia Railway Network are massively expensive, because of Laos’s mountainous terrain, and have for this reason failed to progress very far in terms of planning let alone actual construction work. 

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