Compared to Vietnam, which has over 2,600 km of railway track, Cambodia’s passenger train network is very small with only 612 km of track currently in use. Moreover, unlike Vietnam’s rail services which form an important part of the country’s transport infrastructure, train services in Cambodia tend to be for the greater part viewed as a leisure activity with travel by road or air the preferred option for people wanting to travel quickly and cheaply around the country.
About Train Travel in Cambodia
Cambodia has three passenger train lines. The busiest of the three lines is one from Phnom Penh to the coastal town of Sihanoukville. The service runs on Friday, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays only and the majority of the people who travel on these trains are holiday makers. Passengers on Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville train services will notice that most of the Cambodian people on the train are travelling in large groups, and they are eating, drinking and generally having a good time on their journey. This train service is not a commuter service.
The other two passenger train lines in Cambodia are a short distance commuter service from Phnom Penh city centre to the international airport on the outskirts of the city and a long distance railway line from Phnom Penh to Poipet, which currently operates twice a week in each direction. Poipet is on the border with Thailand and the plan is to eventually use this train line to connect Phnom Penh with Bangkok as part a wider railway network linking Kumming in Southern China to Singapore via Vietnam. This exciting project is some way off becoming a reality and the existing railway line between Phnom Penh and Poipet is in a poor state of repair which means trains travelling on this route move relatively slowly for safety reasons.
About Trains in Cambodia
Cambodia has a small number of diesel locomotives and some very basic passenger carriages fitted out, for the greater part, with items which are manufactured for use in residential buildings rather manufactured bespoke for use on train carriages. Most of the train carriages have seating in clusters of 4 seats in two rows facing each other. On the Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville service some of the carriages have long padded benches facing each other. These types of carriages are very popular with family groups and the seats tend to be pre-booked long in advance.
Passenger train services in Cambodia are air-conditioned and they have on board toilets in every carriage. The Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville trains also have a buffet car which serves snacks, drinks and freshly cooked food at reasonable prices. They also sell beer which is a popular beverage with a significant proportion of the passengers using this holiday focused train service.