Transport in Cambodia
War and continuing fighting severely damaged Cambodia's transportation system — a system that had been inadequately developed in peacetime. The country's weak infrastructure hindered emergency relief efforts and created tremendous problems of procurement of supplies in general and of distribution. Cambodia received Soviet technical assistance and equipment to support the maintenance of the transportation network.
total - 603 km
narrow gauge - 603 km 1000mm gauge
Cambodia had two rail lines, both originating in Phnom Penh, totaling about 612 kilometers of single, one-meter-gauge track. The French built the first line, which runs from Phnom Penh to Poipet on the Thai border, between 1930 and 1940 (Phnom Penh Station opened in 1932) the final connection with Thailand has been done by Royal State Railways in 1942. However, the service from Bangkok to Battambang was suspended on December 17, 1946 -> the day French Indochinese Government resumed sovereignty over Battambang and the Si Sophon area. (Thailand was seen as a supporter of Khmer Issarak, the anti-French, Khmer nationalist political movement.)
Assistance from France, West Germany, and the People's Republic of China, between 1960 and 1969, supported the construction of the second line which runs from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville at the southern coast to cut down the reliance on Saigon Port of Vietnam and Klong Tyoei Port of Thailand. Rail service ceased during the war but resumed in the early 1980s. Guerrilla activities, however, continued to disrupt service.
However, the service between Phnom Penh to Battambang has been reduced from daily to weekly service due to the lack of funds to maintain the tracks and rolling stock .... even the new diesel-electric locomotives from China cannot run on the tracks due to the dilapidated condition.
Railway links with adjacent countries
Thailand - yes - suspended - same gauge 1000mm
Laos - no - same gauge 1000mm
Vietnam - no - same gauge 1000mm
Trans-Asian railway network planned -
Link proposed Poipet, Cambodia to Sisophon, Cambodia
Malaysia offer to donate rails and sleepers to Cambodia, to help them complete the missing links, which would be of value to all countries in the vicinity.
17 November 2006 - To complete a missing link in the Singapore-Kunming rail route, Malaysia has donated rails to Cambodia which will be used to connect Poipet to Sisophon (48km). According to Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy, the rail was lifted from the old Rawang-Ipoh section where a new electrified double line has been built. A link between Cambodia and Vietnam including a crossing of the Mekong River is still required. The completed Singapore-Kunming line is expected to promote increased trade with China.
16 December 2006 - The Asian Development Bank is advancing a loan together with the donation in kind of rails from Malaysia will see restoration of the link with Thailand.
Cities served by rail
Poipet - on border with Thailand
Battambang - provincial capital
Pursat- provincial capital
Phnom Pehn - national capital - port on Mekong River
Sihanoukville - port
The bamboo railway as it is known to overseas visitors, "nori" or " "lorries" as it is known to locals is a popular form of transport in the North west of the country near Battambang. The trains consist of a bamboo covered platform and two detached axles with wheels. They run on regular tracks and are powered with Briggs & Stratton type air-cooled gasoline engines, adapted from portable electricity generators. Power is transmitted by belt and pulley. Trains can reach up to 40kmph. When meeting traffic in The bamboo railway as it is known to overseas visitors, "nori" or " "lorries" as it is known to locals is a popular form of transport in the North west of the country near Battambang. The trains consist of a bamboo covered platform and two detached axles with wheels. They run on regular tracks and are powered with Briggs & Stratton type air-cooled gasoline engines, adapted from portable electricity generators. Power is transmitted by belt and pulley. Trains can reach up to 40kmph. When meeting traffic in the opposite diraction, passengers are expected to lift the platform and axles off the tracks to let the other "train" pass.
total - 35,769 km
paved - 4,165 km
unpaved - 31,604 km (1997 est.)
Of the current total, only about 20 percent of the roads and highways were covered with asphalt and were in passable condition; about 50 percent of the roads were made of crushed stone, gravel, or improved earth; and the remaining approximately 30 percent were unimproved earth or were little more than tracks. In 1981 Cambodia opened a newly repaired section of National Route 1 which runs southeast from Phnom Penh to the Vietnamese border. The road, which suffered damage during the war years, was restored most probably by Vietnamese army engineers. In the late 1980s, Cambodia's road network was both underutilized and unable to meet even the modest demands placed upon it by an unindustrialized and agriculture society (see fig. 8.). Commercial vehicles, such as trucks and buses, were insufficient in number and lacked the spare parts necessary to keep them running. Road construction and maintenance were ignored by a financially hard-pressed government, while insurgents regularly destroyed bridges and rendered some routes unsafe for travel.
The nation's extensive inland waterways were important historically in domestic trade. The Mekong and the Tonle Sap Rivers, their numerous tributaries, and the Tonle Sap provided avenues of considerable length, including 3,700 kilometers navigable all year by craft drawing 0.6 meters and another 282 kilometers navigable to craft drawing 1.8 meters. In some areas, especially west of the Mekong River and north of the Tonle Sab River, the villages were completely dependent on waterways for communications. Launches, junks, or barges transported passengers, rice, and other food in the absence of roads and railways.
According to the Ministry of Communications, Transport, and Posts, Cambodia's main ferry services crossing the Basak River and the middle Mekong River at Neak Luong (Phumi Prek Khsay), Tonle Bet, Sre Ambel, Kampong Cham, and Stoeng Treng were restored in 1985. The major Mekong River navigation routes also were cleared for traffic.
Seaports and harbors
Cambodia has two major ports, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, also known as Kampong Som, and five minor ones. Phnom Penh, located at the junction of the Basak, the Mekong, and the Tonle Sab rivers, is the only river port capable of receiving 8,000-ton ships during the wet season and 5,000-ton ships during the dry season. It remains an important port for international commerce as well as for domestic communications.
Sihanoukville, Cambodia's only seaport, reopened in late 1979. It had been built in 1960 with French assistance. In 1980 some 180 Soviet dockworkers, having brought with them forklifts and trucks, were reportedly working at Kampong Som as longshoremen or as instructors of unskilled Cambodian port workers. By 1984 approximately 1,500 Cambodian port workers were handling 2,500 tons of cargo per day. According to official statistics, Sihanoukville had handled only 769,500 tons in the four prior years (1979 to 1983), a level that contrasted sharply with the port's peacetime capacity of about 1 million tons of cargo per year.
19 (1999 est.) The country possesses twenty-six airfields, of which only thirteen were usable in the mid-1980s. Eight airfields had permanent-surface runways. Pochentong International Airport near Phnom Penh is the largest airport; it also serves as the main base for the renascent Cambodian Air Force (see Kampuchean, or Khmer, People's Revolutionary Armed Forces, ch. 5). Cambodia opened a new Soviet-built airfield at Ream near Kampong Saom in late 1983. There are additional secondary airports in Siemreab and in Batdambang.
Air Kampuchea was established in 1982 and flew only one route-- from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. In 1984 commercial air service was inaugurated between Phnom Penh and Hanoi with the arrival at Hanoi International Airport of the Kampuchean Civil Aviation Company's (AKASCHOR) first flight. Since then, there has been regular air service from Phnom Penh to Hanoi, Vientiane, and Moscow.
Airports - with paved runways
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (1999 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 11 (1999 est.)
Heliports: 3 (1999 est.)