The system consists of only two lines, from Phnom Penh to Battambang and Poipet, on the Thai border (the north line), and the port of Sihanoukville (the south line). There is a curve between the south and north lines 11km outside Phnom Penh allowing freight trains to avoid a time consuming reversal in Phnom Penh.
National Railway Operator
- Online: Railways Through Europe
None, and as at March 2023 the website link to the timetable contained no information but services at that time were daily from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh to Battambang and return, perhaps surprisingly worked from the Phnom Penh end. From some time in September 2023 there are also 6 pairs SSuO from Phnom Penh to Samrong.
Summary timetables are available in some editions of the European Rail Timetable.
Included in Open Railway Map.
Metre but see below regarding the study into regauging to 1435 mm
None but see below regarding the study into electrification
Rule of the road
The network is single track with a centralised Train Order control (based on the system used in Victoria, Australia)
Official distances are 262.6km from Phnom Penh station to Sihanoukville [with a 2km freight branch onwards to the end of rails in the docks] and 384.3km Phnom Penh station to Poipet, then 1km onwards to Ban Klong Luk Border station immediately on crossing into Thailand. Both lines share the first 9.4km from Phnom Penh before splitting at the east end of a triangle including a north to west freight avoiding line.
http://www.bambootrain.com/ was believed to have stopped operating from O Dambong II and O Sralov near Battambang as it became popular using the then long closed but now refurbished and re-opened Royal Railway, but a traveller advises a journey on the usual home made draisines was available in March 2023, probably very unofficially!! There is also a replacement new "Bamboo Railway" built for Tourists near Banan, some 16km south of Battambang but it does not appear to have a website. Google Maps gives its location so further details of what this entails would be appreciated by the Compilers.
Metro and light rail systems
Recent and Future Changes
Six SSuO pairs between Phnom Penh and Samrong were introduced in Autumn 2023.
The line between Battambang via Sisophon to Poipet, on the border with Thailand, reopened for freight trains in 2018 [officially inaugurated on 22 April 2019] after it had fallen into disuse over previous decades. Articles at the time claimed the border had been closed to rail traffic for 45 years and in early 2023 the cross-border traffic was described as occasional car trains from Thailand.
The experimental single railcar Phnom Penh International Airport service ceased some time in July/August 2020 due to low passenger numbers during covid. Due to the track level crossing a six lane main road at the airport and running down the middle of another road for 1.5km before reversing to reach Phnom Penh, even when operating times were not competitive with tuk-tuks or taxis but despite the track grooves being filled with asphalt and the branch disconnected from the main line, officially the service remains "suspended" not closed.
Both Cambodian Royal Railways and the State Railways of Thailand have agreed to reopen their Poipet to Ban Klong Luk rail cross border line to passenger trains, and informed sources claim this may happen in June 2023 but only as far as Sisiphon for bus transfers to Siem Reap [for Angkor Wat]. Note as at March 2023 this would still leave a 47km gap in passenger service coverage from Sisiphon to Battambang.
A feasibility study to rebuild the 382 km line from Phnom Penh to Poipet on the Thai border was submitted by China Road & Bridge Corp to the government on 24 January 2023. This evaluated the potential for electrification and regauging to 1435 mm and to raise speeds to 160 km/h.
Obscure and Sparse Passenger Services
Battambang - Poipet
Allegedly on some days at Public Holidays the existing daily passenger service from Phnom Penh to Battambang is locomotive and coaches rather than its usual 2-car DMU and extended on freight only track via Sisophong to Poipet. It is assumed details are shown at the appropriate time on the Royal Railways Journey Planner