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Photographer's Note

Travellers' reports:

Barry Rogge travelled from Battambang to Pursat in January 2008: The ticket window at the Battambang train station opened at 6:00 am. I was joined by five other foreigners for this trip. The train left 40 minutes late at 7:20 am due to a broken locomotive. The train consisted of two passenger cars, one enclosed box car, and one flatbed car. We were allowed to ride on the roof as much as we liked and were joined by Cambodians as well. The trip to Pursat took seven hours. Along the way we saw bamboo trains and stopped at many villages. The cars and tracks are still in bad shape as described in the earlier reports. The train was full of fruit sellers transporting pineapples and bananas to different markets. They all travelled with hammocks. Unless you want to eat pineapples and bananas, it is wise to buy food before the trip as food sellers never showed up.

Donncha Cronin travelled in September 2007: "Phnom Penh has been spruced up with a paint job and there's a fine 1912 Franco-Belge steam loco on display...in better shape than the diesels! Mothballed steam locos lurk in the locked-up sheds outside Phnom Penh. They don't let you get on the roof any more. Apparently, about 10 people got thrown off on one occasion and now the staff discourage roof-sitting on the 'official' passenger trains. Unofficial travel on goods trains is possible to folks 'in the know' down to Sihanoukville, by means of a small bribe."

John Clearwater reports in June 2006: "Many people bring hammocks, and this morning there was a goat in one of the three passenger cars. There was also a flatbed and two boxcars, all for passengers. The train is pulled by a Czech yard-engine made in 1994 in Prague. Food and drink are available for sale on the platform for an hour prior to departure. It was scheduled t leave at 06:40, but left at 06:15, so being early is a virtue here, if no where else in Cambodia."

In March 2006, traveller Yme Kvistedal reports: "There is currently only one official train per week running in Cambodia! This one departs Phnom Penh every Saturday at 6.20am to Batambong, and returns the next day, every Sunday, at 6.40am. The price for a foreigner is currently 16,500 riel for the entire distance. When I took the train from Batambong to Phnom Penh this Sunday (the 12th march 2006), there where no apparent technical difficulties and entire trip (290km) took 18 hours. There was however a theatre group who performed off one of the carriages on two longer stops, which might have delayed the train by an hour at most."

Traveller Andrew Rafuse describes the trip: "I went from B’bang to PP, after having arrived at B’bang from Siem Reap by boat. The train left shortly after 6:30 a.m. There are two fares, one for locals and one twice as much for foreigners. As a foreigner you actually get a seat on a coach, as opposed to having to ride on the roof or on a flat bed railcar or box car. The train ride itself is a blast. Think of it as a village on wheels. It stops at all sorts of villages, picking up and dropping off some passengers, but mostly just making the aisles available for beggars and vendors of snacks. Also, villagers will come onto the train to socialize with friends relatives and acquaintances while the train is stopped. At these times, the train is almost like a jammed village market. The rail bed is poorly maintained, so the carriage rocks quite a bit. The interior is also poorly maintained. My seat was not properly bolted to the floor, which required all those on the seat (which was a front and back bench) to coordinate their movements when getting up or sitting down."

Traveller Patrick Degan reports from a trip in 2005: "The train takes a little more than 14hrs to go the one way (20kph I'm sure is the reason). I purchased my ticket and got a seat at about 6:25 a.m. and we left promptly at 6:30. The conductor on the train spoke relatively good English and told me that if I wanted to stretch my legs at any point then I was welcome to join him on the rooftop. Hesitant at first to the offer, I joined him and he explained to me while sitting up top where the Khmer Rouge had been fighting and where certain areas were still very hostile. There were many other natives on the roof so I stayed up there for the majority of the ride and was given a plethora of beautiful vistas including chasing the sun set. I was very fortunate to have had such an uninterrupted cultural experience as this, while I'm sure that this has been done before by other travellers before me, but I believe that it takes a certain type of person to take such a trip as underdeveloped as this."

Feedback from travellers who have used this route between Bangkok and Phnom Penh or Siem Reap would be appreciated, as information is difficult to come by.

Source: Man In Seat 61

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My personal note:

I came to Phnom Penh Train Station on the morning of August 14, 2009, I found empty ticket counters. On a car parked within the station, a family used it as refuge where they live day and night.

This snapshot is posted to confirm that no current train service in Cambodia.





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Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 472 W: 128 N: 2358] (8576)
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