Thai-Cambodian Trains to Reopen After 45 Years

Junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen share a train ride on April 22, 2019, to celebrate the completion of Thai-Cambodian rail repair.

BANGKOK — A rail service connecting Bangkok with the Thai-Cambodian border is set to restart next week, exactly 45 years after it was halted by a Communist takeover.

The trains will run between Hua Lamphong Terminal in Bangkok and Ban Klong Luk Border Station in Sa Kaeo province four times a day – or two trips in each direction – from July 1 onward, according to state railway director Worawut Mala.

The resumption of the service is aimed at encouraging tourism and trade between the two nations, Worawut said in a statement posted online. Ban Klong Luk Border is located close to a popular border market and the casino town of Poi Pet.

Trains leave Bangkok twice a day at 5.55am and 1.05pm, and depart Ban Klong Luk at 6.58am and 1.53pm. The journey takes about five hours.

The railway, which initially ran deep into Cambodia’s Battambang province, has been mired in difficult history.

Parts of the railroad in Battambang were built by Thai engineers during Thailand’s invasion of Cambodia in the 1940s. The Thais were forced to withdraw after the end of World War II, leaving their construction work behind.

Services eventually began in 1955, only to be halted two years later after a military coup in Thailand. The trains resumed in 1956, but they stopped again in 1961 when the two countries fought over Preah Vihear temple.

Operations again returned in 1970 before the Thai government halted the services on July 1, 1974, as the Khmer Rouge was taking over parts of Cambodia, with Phnom Penh falling in 1975. The railroad collapsed into disrepair until the two governments agreed to revive the route in 2014.

Thai officials inaugurate the opening of Thai-Cambodian railroad at Ban Klong Luk on April, 22, 1955. Image: State Railway of Thailand.