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Cambodia’s railways evolving from bamboo to steel

Two stories were just published illustrating some of the challenges Cambodia is facing as it pushes to modernize its railroads

By The Mekong Eye

Battambang, Cambodia, September 4, 2017

Two stories were just published illustrating some of the challenges Cambodia is facing as it pushes to modernize its railroads.

Cambodia-Thai Rail link not in Talks Again, Bangkok Post

The joint cabinet meeting between Cambodia and Thailand next month will exclude discussions on the Phnom Penh-Bangkok rail link, leaving the exact date of its launch in limbo.

“I don’t think the Cambodia-Thailand railway will be on the agenda because there is still a stretch of rail track under contention and border talks to agree on the transport of goods by train are still inconclusive,” the Khmer Times on Thursday quoted Chan Kimleng, director of the Transport Ministry’s railway department, as saying.

The meeting will be co-chaired by Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha and will be held in the first week of September in Siem Reap province.

“At this juncture, I cannot say with certainty when the rail link will be completed. There’s still 10% of it yet to be completed in Poipet city,” Kimleng said.

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Cambodia railway revamp spells end of the line for homegrown ‘Bamboo Train’, Japan Times

With a wooden platform jerry-rigged to a small engine, Cambodia’s one-of-a-kind “Bamboo Train” delights tourists as it clatters through bucolic countryside — but its days are numbered as the Southeast Asian nation plans a railways overhaul.

The bamboo-lined flat trollies are a testament to Cambodian creativity and enterprise in an impoverished nation with little infrastructure.

They were first invented as part of a homegrown, unofficial transport system to make use of the country’s abandoned colonial-era train tracks but later morphed into a popular tourist attraction.

“It was good to finally have some breeze happening (on) my face,” exclaimed 25-year-old Swedish tourist Josefin Strang, after completing a ride on the rickety cart under a blazing tropical sun.

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