The full Royal Railway Phnom Penh – Poipet Line has been active since 4 July 2018, but only operated with an average of 1 return trip a week on a weekday. With the timetable change effective 12 July 2019, and trains running on a new weekend timetable with 2 pairs of return trips weekly, it fits perfectly with my Jetstar Asia flight booking, though I had to happily abandon the return portion of it in order to try out this new service.
Poipet is the border town to neighbouring Thailand, and this new train service travels on a historical trans-Cambodian route completed in 1942, which was disrupted by turmoil over civil war and in more recent times, poor track conditions. Train services were finally reinstated in 2018 with ever-developing modernisation of the line.
As Phnom Penh Railway Station would only be most active on a Sunday morning with consecutive train movements and heavier passenger loads, I headed to the station early to spot some trains first, and hopefully get my ticket printed.
The facade of Phnom Penh Railway Station.
The central door was closed during my visit.
Entering the station through the side door.
The new, rather stale waiting hall with the recent furnishing of metal benches, making it look like almost every other railway station in ASEAN.
I enquired about my Easybook ticket at the Royal Railway ticket counter again to see if they were able to issue me a printed or written ticket, but they were unable to as my email is the ticket already, just like a normal Easybook booking in Singapore or Malaysia. Sigh.
Heading to the platform about 30 minutes before departure. Phnom Penh Railway Station consists of a single island bay platform, now supplemented by a side hole in the wall for the Airport Shuttle Train.
The side hole in the wall for the Airport Shuttle Train.
The entrance gate to the platform.
The Royal Railway Phnom Penh – Poipet Line (PNH-PS-BB-SS-PP 07:15 AM) train at Phnom Penh Railway Station as seen from the station car park, operating as a mixed passenger and cargo train.
Heading into the platform through a new, unused ticket gate.
Seems like Royal Railway will implement QR code ticket scanning in future?
Trains to Sihanoukville depart from Platform 2, while trains to Poipet depart from Platform 3. I’m assuming Platform 1 is the hole in the wall for the Airport Shuttle Train.
The rear of the Phnom Penh – Poipet Line (PNH-PS-BB-SS-PP 07:15 AM) train.
A tailboard with a reflector marks the end of the train.
The buffers and chains coupling between the two flat cars.
The Phnom Penh – Sihanoukville Line (PP-TK-KP-SHV_001) train on Platform 3 was made up of a single-car Airport Shuttle Train on the day of my trip.
The Phnom Penh – Sihanoukville Line (PP-TK-KP-SHV_001) train was operated by Mexican DMU AS1003.
Passengers board the Mexican DMU by a set of mobile stairs here too.
Mexican DMU AS1003 at Phnom Penh Railway Station.
A covered goods wagon is attached to transport some small items, along with a generator to supply hotel power to my train.
And here’s my train to Poipet. Looks familiar? It’s the exact same train as the one I took to Sihanoukville last year, except…
… this Waggonfabrik Uerdingen DMU ZZ803 now has a new engine, making it a DMU again instead of just a hauled coach.
The coupling between Coaches A and B.
Looking back at the Phnom Penh skyline from the platform of Phnom Penh Railway Station.
The Phnom Penh – Poipet Line (PNH-PS-BB-SS-PP 07:15 AM) train readied at Platform 2.
More covered goods wagons in the old yellow Royal Railway livery.
Boarding the Waggonfabrik Uerdingen DMU ZZ803 at Coach A.
The interior of Coach A.
Coach A is fitted with transverse seats in 2+2 configuration, with seat back being able to flip according to the direction of travel.
As such, bays of 4 seats may also be formed.
The clean and spacious toilet on board Coach A.
The gangway between Coaches A and B, of which the platform is the buffer itself.
The interior of Coach B.
Seats are fixed in bays of 4 seats.
The clean and spacious toilet on board Coach B.
Heading back onto the platform to spot the Phnom Penh – Sihanoukville Line (PP-TK-KP-SHV_001) train departing.
The oldest and newest DMUs in Royal Railway’s fleet, side by side, in front of the Phnom Penh skyline.
Bye bye, Mexican DMU AS1003.
Heading off to Sihanoukville.
Sorry to say that the Mexican DMU looks like a Brio wooden toy train from this angle.
Heading back to my Phnom Penh – Poipet Line (PNH-PS-BB-SS-PP 07:15 AM) train.
The new engine of the Waggonfabrik Uerdingen DMU ZZ803.
Heading back into the seating saloon, there are more passengers on board now.
The legroom on board Coach A as a bay of 4 seats.
The legroom on board Coach A as transverse seats.
The view out of the train car.
The Phnom Penh – Poipet Line (PNH-PS-BB-SS-PP 07:15 AM) train departed at around 7.40am – 25 minutes delayed.
Heading out of Phnom Penh Railway Station through the many points leading to various parallel lines.
I see the cause of the delay now, my Poipet train was waiting for the Airport Shuttle Train to arrive.
Pulling away from Phnom Penh Railway Station.
This Waggonfabrik Uerdingen DMU ZZ803 surprisingly has power to pull the container wagons with no significant issues.
Passing by some maintenance trolleys.
Crossing a modern level crossing.
Heading past some local houses.
Passing by water cranes for steam locomotives in the yard.
Mexican DMU AS1001 resting in the yard, surrounded by the two repainted CRRC Qishuyan locomotives.
The active locomotives resting outside the locomotive shed.
Can’t wait to see what Royal Railway does with this coach.
The side view of the CRRC Qishuyan BB1060 locomotive BB1060.
The repainted CRRC Qishuyan BB1060 and BB1061 locomotives.
Some cut-out containers acting as shelters behind the locomotive shed.
The towering Phnom Penh Megamall/Parkson Mall behind the yard.
Hope to see these coaches refurbished soon.
Another locomotive shed here.
Some YDMs are resting inside this shed, probably waiting for a repaint.
Passing by a disused passenger station in Phnom Penh, but might be used for train crossings.
A rather safe fouling point here.
Approaching the Airport Branch Line.
The junction to the Airport Branch Line.
Arriving at Samrong.
Making a brief stop at Samrong, for the staff to switch the tracks over to the Phnom Penh – Poipet Line.
The on-board crew manually switching the point over to the Phnom Penh – Poipet Line.
Heading over the key junction in Cambodia, splitting the two main lines spanning the country.
Splitting away from the Phnom Penh – Sihanoukville Line, marking a new milestone for myself.
Heading onto the Phnom Penh – Poipet Line.
Passing the very safe fouling point at Samrong Junction.
Once the train has passed the fouling point, it stops again for the train crew to come back on the train.
Surprisingly, the track was still set to Poipet. Hmm, maybe the next train is coming from this direction too.
Once done, the train departs from Samrong Junction.
Some cows resting around Samrong Junction.
Splitting off from the Phnom Penh – Sihanoukville Line very smoothly.
Some new shophouses along the railway line.
Lots more smoke as the train throttles up to the rather straight line without nearby dangers around the track.
The common rural Khmer scenery as seen from the train.
Splitting off from a main road.
Passing by an oil warehouse.
More Khmer scenery.
Making a brief stop and go at Batdeung. Surprisingly, the train is now on time despite the 25 minute delay from Phnom Penh.
Departing from Batdeung.
Crossing a level crossing after Batdeung and throttling up.
There is a power socket by the air-conditioning unit. As this is going to be a long ride, I decided to test it first if it works.
And it certainly does.
3G and 4G mobile network was also almost fully covered along the railway thanks to the many cell towers located along the railway line.
Passing through Mea Nork without stopping.
As I had booked my Royal Railway ticket through Easybook and flashed my phone at Phnom Penh before boarding, I was unfortunately not able to get a printout of the ticket from the ticket counter, just like most single-departure express buses in Singapore or Malaysia.
Royal Railway Cambodia uses the exact same Easybook system as Singapore and Malaysia express buses, even reflecting the identification number box as NRIC (National Registration Identity Card for Singaporeans) for me, making payment and ticketing seamless and instant.
Hmm, I wish some other Malaysian train company would adopt this too instead of putting a black mark of this useful and almost error-free agent on their own money-taking-ticket-non-issuing website.
Passing through more Khmer scenery.
Approaching a level crossing slowly. Must be approaching a station.
Oh hello, you look very familiar.
Your face seems to have gotten a major filling and touch up though, after rusting up in Gemas, Malaysia for too long. I guess you’re going to be the next to be repainted into the Royal Railway livery. Glad that there’s a train company which appreciates trains better.
Crossing with ex-KTM Berhad YDM 6663 hauling a Tela diesel train waiting in the loop line of Romeas Railway Station.
Remnants of KTM’s keris logo can still be seen, though one side seems to have been touched up from the rusting in Gemas, Malaysia.
The cab and short hood has yet to be touched up.
The YDM4 strangely carries a tailboard at the rear of the locomotive despite obviously not being at the end of the train.
A comparison photo of YDM 6663 at Kluang, Malaysia hauling a shuttle train. The air-conditioning pod seems to have been removed already.
Lots of Tela diesel wagons trail behind.
Making a brief stop at Romeas.
The YDM-hauled Tela train pretty much took up the entire length of the loop line of Romeas.
Both trains departing from Romeas together.
Lots of vast Khmer scenery along the way.
Making a brief stop at Kdol.
The loop line of Kdol.
The driving crew heads down here for a quick run to a local shop.
Hmm, perhaps I should have followed them to buy some local stuff and local prices for the trip. But off the train goes again.
Heading on northwest.
Local houses built within Bomnak Railway Station.
Bomnak Railway Station with a local shop within it.
Departing from Bomnak.
More standalone housing along the way.
Crossing a local level crossing with local kids waving the train by.
Crossing a very new truss bridge over the Pursat River. The bridge is so new, it looks almost toy-like with not a single sign of rust.
Crossing over the Pursat River.