Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Service opens on restored rails connecting Battambang, Banteay Meanchey

Service opens on restored rails connecting Battambang, Banteay Meanchey

A passenger train arrives at Serey Saophoan station during the recent Khmer New Year holiday. Photo supplied
A passenger train arrives at Serey Saophoan station during the recent Khmer New Year holiday. Photo supplied

Service opens on restored rails connecting Battambang, Banteay Meanchey

Train service from the provincial capitals of Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces opened on Sunday, an expansion made possible by the retrofitting of previously existing tracks that will also limit the speed at which trains can run.

The 65-kilometre train ride from Serey Saophoan to Battambang will be free for passengers until the end of July and will take about two and a half hours to complete, according to Transportation Minister Sun Chanthol, who oversaw the track’s inaguration on Sunday.

The new line follows on the heels of the opening of a 48-kilometre track between the border town of Poipet and Serey Saophoan on April 4.

Chanthol’s speech at the opening of the new track encouraged drivers to give priority to trains, and he noted that the train had already been involved in crashes with three vehicles in the last month.

“I would like to propose that people along the railway or people that travel across the rail tracks, please be highly cautious,” Chanthol said. “The train has no brake to [stop immediately] like a car.”

With Poipet and Battambang now connected by rail, the ministry plans to open a 107-kilometre stretch of track from Battambang to Pursat on May 29, before moving on to work on the 134-kilometre stretch of track from Pursat to Bat Doeng, in Kampong Speu’s Oudong district.

The total cost to rehabilitate the train track from Poipet to Bat Doeng was estimated at $76.6 million, with $13 million coming from the Asian Development Bank and the rest coming from government coffers, Chanthol said.

The remaining 32 kilometres from Bat Doeng to Phnom Penh was scheduled to be completed last, and passenger service from Phnom Penh to the Thai border at Poipet was set to be available by the end of the year, the minister said.

While a rail link between Phnom Penh and the Thai capital of Bangkok was also in the works, negotiations with Thailand were still ongoing and the minister did not provide a timeline for that service’s opening.

Additionally, the minister mentioned that new railway tracks – from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, Siem Reap to Poipet, and Phnom Penh to Bavet on the Vietnam border – were also being studied by private companies.

“This is under a feasibility study and we have not approved it yet,” he said.

Royal Railways, part of Kith Meng’s Royal Group conglomerate, was granted a 30-year concession to restore and operate existing railways in 2009, but newly constructed railways would be open for other companies to build and operate, according to Chan Samleng, director of the Railway Department at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • AstraZeneca jabs touch down in Phnom Penh airport

    The first shipment of 324,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/SII vaccine which was provided through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility was delivered to Phnom Penh International Airport on March 2. The rest of the COVAX provided vaccines will arrive in Cambodia at a later date.