Author Topic: Article: Opening Of Cambodia Railroad Puts Pan-Asian Railway Firmly On Track  (Read 2263 times)

Offline furfur

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Offline travelbug

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CAMBODIA: For villagers in Cambodia, the path of least resistance is also perhaps the most dangerous.

Villagers with no access to roads use a homegrown mode of transport called "bamboo trains".

Made of salvaged tank axles, a flimsy bamboo platform and powered by a small boat engine, "bamboo trains" also called "norries" in Khmer, can reach speeds of up to 40 kilometres per hour.

The cheap fare makes it a crucial way for farmers to get their products to bigger markets despite it being a hazardous and inconvenient mode of transportation.

One of the drawbacks of the bamboo train is that there isn't enough room on the track for two trains to pass each other and the train with the lesser passenger has to give way.

Drivers and passengers have to also help each other to dismantle the train and set it back up, a scenario which happens multiple times on any given journey.

The bamboo trains have been the makeshift mode of transport for decades for the villagers and even pregnant women have to use it to make their way to the hospital.

However, Suang Sarouen, who is the chief of Thmey Village, would prefer a passenger train.

"The villagers feel the bamboo train is very dangerous and some people have even been killed by the bamboo train when they've collided, so it would be good to have a real passenger train available," said Suang.

Cambodia's official rail system is in terrible shape after decades of neglect and damage.

Currently, these bamboo trains exist with traditional trains along the same track as the latter move so slowly that the bamboo trains can be taken off and lifted off to allow the traditional trains to pass.

However, these bamboo trains will soon become a thing of the past once the new railroad is built.

The rail system will be completely overhauled by 2013 through funding from the Asian Development Bank and the Australian government.

While drivers face the prospect of finding another livelihood, some are looking forward to the changes.

Neoun Neang, who is a bamboo train driver, said: "I find it quite hard work [driving a bamboo train] and I hope the government can build a new road, so I can be a motorbike taxi driver instead."

The Cambodian government will also be assisting those adversely affected by the new changes.

Peter Broch, Senior Transport Economist, Asian Development Bank, said: "We do train and help railway operators to actually move from using the railway as a source of income and means of transport infrastructure to road transport instead." - CNA/fa
« Last Edit: Oct 23, 10, 05:31 AM by travelbug »