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Khmer Transport.jpg

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 - 602 km
  • Metre gauge - 602 km 1,000 mm (3 ft 3+38 in) gauge (2008)

Cambodia's rail network is currently being reconstructed as part of the Trans-Asian Railway project. Two rail lines exist, both originating in Phnom Penh and totaling about 612 kilometers of metre gauge single track. A third line is planned to connect Phnom Penh with Vietnam, the last missing link of the planned rail corridor between Singapore and the city of Kunming, China.



The French colonial government built the first line, which runs from Phnom Penh to Poipet on the Thai border, between 1930 and 1940, with Phnom Penh Station opening in 1932. The final connection with Thailand was completed by the Royal State Railways in 1942. However, the service from Bangkok to Battambang was suspended when the French Indochinese Government resumed sovereignty over Battambang and the Sisophon area from Thailand on December 17, 1946, as 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 on the southern coast to cut down the reliance on Saigon Port of Vietnam and Khlong Toei Port of Thailand. In 1960, Australia provided four 3rd class passenger carriages under the Colombo Plan[1]. Rail service ceased during the war but resumed in the early 1980s. Guerrilla activities, however, continued to disrupt service.

However, by 2008 the service between Phnom Penh to Battambang had 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 could not run on the tracks due to the dilapidated condition. Derailing of trains in operation was not infrequent. As reported by the Phnom Penh Post in October 2008, the national Railway earned merely $2 million per year; the annual freight amount stood at 350,000, and the passenger count at 500,000.[2]

The last regular rail service in Cambodia between Phnom Penh and Battambang was suspended entirely in early 2009, however in June of that year Australian business Toll Holdings was awarded the contract to begin reconstruction of Cambodia's rail network and to operate it once complete.[3] It is envisioned that this line will reopen by 2013, together with the track further west to the Thai border, allowing for direct rail services into Cambodia from Bangkok for the first time in over 60 years.[4]

The line from Phnom Penh to the deep water port at Sihanoukville is also scheduled to be reopened by 2013.

Railway links with adjacent countries

  • Thailand Thailand - yes - suspended - same gauge 1,000 mm (3 ft 3+38 in)
  • Laos Laos - no - same gauge 1,000 mm (3 ft 3+38 in) - indirectly via Thailand
  • Vietnam Vietnam - no - under construction - same gauge 1,000 mm (3 ft 3+38 in)





  • November, 2008 - agreement for Vietnam - Cambodia link [6]
  • October-November: A 30-year agreement is prepared with Australia's Toll Holdings to upgrade the national railway system, restore the link from the present western railhead at Sisophon to the Thai railhead at Poipet, and to construct a new 225-km line linking Cambodian railways to the Vietnamese railhead of Loc Ninh. The renovation of the existing lines, to be carried out in 50 km segments, is expected to take 2–3 years. The link to Vietnam would involve construction of two major bridges: one across the Tonle Sap River, and another across the Mekong River in Kampong Cham Province. The Cambodian government is hoping to get assistance from China to finance the project.[2]



  • Trans-Asian Railway network planned -[8]
  • Link proposed Thailand Aranyaprathet, Thailand to Cambodia 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 (48 km).[9] 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

Bamboo Railway

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 40 km/h. When meeting traffic in the opposite direction, passengers are expected to lift the platform and axles off the tracks to let the other "train" pass.[10]


  • total - 38,257 km
  • paved - 2,406 km
  • unpaved - 35,851 km (2004)

Of the current total, only about 50 percent of the roads and highways were covered with asphalt and were in good 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.

Cambodia is upgrading the main highways to international standards and most are vastly improved from 2006. Most main roads are now paved. And now road construction is on going from the Thailand border at Poipet to Siem Reap (Angkor Wat).

Gas station on the road from the Thai border to Siem Reap
National Highway Code Length Origin Terminal
National Highway 1 10001 167.10 km Phnom Penh Vietnam Border
National Highway 2 10002 120.60 km Phnom Penh Vietnam Border
National Highway 3 10003 202.00 km Phnom Penh Veal Rinh
National Highway 4 10004 226.00 km Phnom Penh Sihanoukville
National Highway 5 10005 407.45 km Phnom Penh Thailand Border
National Highway 6 10006 416.00 km Phnom Penh Banteay Meanchey
National Highway 7 10007 509.17 km Skon Veun Sai Laos border
National Highway 11 10008 90.00 km Neak Leung Thnal Totoung


An elderly Khmer man on the Tonle Sap

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 Sap River, the villages were completely dependent on waterways for communications. Launches, junks, or barges transport 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 Bassac River and the middle Mekong River at Neak Leung , 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

A ferry taking vehicles and passengers across the Mekong to Neak Leung town

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 Bassac, the Mekong, and the Tonle Sap 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 port 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.

Merchant marine


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's second largest airport is Angkor International Airport in the major tourist city of Siem Reap. Tourist traffic into Angkor International Airport saw passenger numbers overtake those of Phnom Penh in 2006, the airport now being the country's busiest.

Cambodia also opened a new Soviet-built airfield at Ream, Sihanoukville International Airport in late 1983, which never saw commercial air traffic until now. There is an additional secondary airport in Battambang.

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.

The new national airline Cambodia Angkor Air was launched in 2009, with a large financial investment from Vietnam Airlines.

Airports - with paved runways

total: 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2008)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 11
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 9
under 914 m: 1 (2008)


1 (2007)

See also


PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the CIA World Factbook.

External links


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