Battambang Now Connected by Rail

Cambodia, Battambang, railways

Carriage of Royal Railway in Cambodia (photo:Baolau)

After opening the track between the Thai border in Aranyaprathet to Poipet and Serey Saophan in early April, the track has been further reopened connecting since Sunday Battambang to the Thai border.

The train service from the provincial capitals of Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces opened on Sunday. The 65-kilometre train ride from Serey Saophoan to Battambang takes two hours and a half. It will be free for passengers until the end of July, according to Transportation Minister Sun Chanthol, who oversaw the track’s inauguration on Sunday. It will take up over three hours and a half to go from Battambang to the Cambodian border by train, covering a distance of 113 km.

With Poipet and Battambang now connected by rail, the ministry plans to further open another 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 declared to local media.

The remaining 32-km 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. In the longer term, it will then be possible to catch a train from Bangkok directly to Phnom Penh. Negotiations continue to see how service could be set up and offer a sustainable alternative to busses and planes services. Speed of trains on the Cambodian side would be crucial to set up the future rail route.

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.

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.