Phnom Penh’s administration earlier this year proudly announced the opening of the city’s first-ever airport railway link to make travel to and from the city more convenient. It is one of the new infrastructure projects that are planned for the city, and it is an ambitious one given the state of the tracks and the outdated equipment.
Royal Railway, the operator of the new connection, is, nevertheless, confident that the airport link will meet great demand from domestic and international travelers.
The connection starts with an old diesel locomotive and one wagon for probably up to 100 people at a time. On its 45-minutes ride to the airport, the track leaves Phnom Penh downtown and crosses the suburbs in sometimes very tight alleyways that give an insight into how not so privileged locals live. In the first part, the wagon is pushed by the locomotive until it crosses a switch. Then the train stops, while the switch is altered manually, and the train continues its ride in the other direction towards the airport.
It’s a pleasant ride and currently a free promotion (until July 31) for what will later be a more modern experience as Royal Railways is purchasing new wagons from Mexico and modern locomotives.