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The Royal Railway Airport Shuttle Train is Cambodia’s first airport rail link, connecting Phnom Penh International Airport in Pochentong to Phnom Penh Railway Station in the heart of the city. The journey time takes around 40 minutes, with trains running at about 90 minute intervals, 24 hours a day.
Fares for the Airport Shuttle Train are free of charge from 10 April to 31 July 2018.
Royal Railway has a counter at the Phnom Penh International Airport arrival hall should you have any queries, and presumably to sell tickets for the Airport Shuttle Train here from 1 August 2018 onwards.
Fares for the Airport Shuttle Train are free of charge from 10 April to 31 July 2018.
However, the Airport Shuttle Train is actually running every 90 minutes rather than 30 minutes as advertised. This will hopefully change once the three new diesel railcars from Mexico arrive.
Follow the signs around the terminal building to get to the Airport Shuttle Train.
You may find it easier to walk across the car park should it get too congested in the terminal building.
The Phnom Penh International Airport Railway Station is located across the car park.
If it’s raining, you can walk by the food outlets where there is a little bit of shelter.
Signs are available in Khmer, English, French, Mandarin (albeit incorrect), Korean and Japanese.
Head up the ramp to the waiting room.
The Phnom Penh International Airport Railway Station waiting room is air-conditioned with ample seats for you to wait for the Airport Shuttle Train.
There is also a manned counter for service information should you have any queries, and presumably to sell tickets as well from 1 August 2018 onwards.
The platform of Phnom Penh International Airport Railway Station.
Towards the end of the line, there is a tree stump, probably for the driver to get off the locomotive easily.
The makeshift buffer stop at the end of the line. Don’t think it will actually stop anything though.
The view of Phnom Penh International Airport from the railway station.
As the station is located within the compounds of Phnom Penh International Airport, the railway station is fenced up with a gate for trains to enter.
The line will cross Russian Federation Boulevard to run on 105K Street to reach the main line.
When the train is arriving, the Royal Railway staff will head out on the road to stop vehicles from passing.
The Airport Shuttle Train crossing Russian Federation Boulevard to Phnom Penh International Airport.
The Airport Shuttle Train entering Phnom Penh International Airport Railway Station.
The Airport Shuttle Train only operated with a single locomotive on a Saturday.
Passengers boarding the Airport Shuttle Train at Phnom Penh International Airport Railway Station.
The hauling locomotive is manufactured in Czechoslovakia in 1994.
Royal Railway uses the buffers and chain coupling for most of their trains.
The interior of the Airport Shuttle Train coach. Longitudinal seating is adopted to maximize passenger capacity including standees. The Airport Shuttle Train is treated as a tram or light rail system.
Departing from Phnom Penh International Airport Railway Station.
As the rear is operated without a locomotive, the crew radios back to the locomotive driver at the back if the line is clear or not.
Crossing Russian Federation Boulevard to head onto 105K Street.
The crew at the rear of the train also tells motorists to get away from the tracks.
Motorists getting away from the train at 105K Street.
Approaching the junction to the main line at Tang Korsang.
Taking a left turn to the main line, which actually heads toward Sihanoukville, Poipet, Bangkok, Vientiane, Kuala Lumpur and Woodlands CIQ instead of a right turn direct to Phnom Penh. This slight detour and change of direction is so that no building was needed to be demolished to make way for the Airport Shuttle Train.
Merging with the main line at Tang Korsang.
Looking towards Sihanoukville, Poipet, Bangkok, Vientiane, Kuala Lumpur and Woodlands CIQ.
Heading to Phnom Penh on the main line.
Splitting away from the Airport branch line on 105K Street.
Time for a quick visit to the very clean washroom.
Most of the main line runs through houses lined on both sides of the track.
The Airport Shuttle Train is cooled by 5 units of Panasonic Inverter air-conditioners.
Overhead grab rails are also installed for standing passengers. However, the ride was smooth enough for me not to hold onto anything when walking inside the coach.
Approaching Phnom Penh Railway Station with the view of disused locomotive sheds on the right side.
Some old car bodies lined at the side in front of the locomotive shed. Hopefully Royal Railway has plans to refurbish them into working coaches again to boost passenger capacity on their trains.
Fun fact: All passenger coaches in Royal Railway were refurbished for the railway revival – there were no new coaches purchased.
Entering Phnom Penh Railway Station.
Arrived at Phnom Penh Railway Station. The journey took 37 minutes.
Phnom Penh Railway Station is located in the heart of Phnom Penh with most attractions accessible from here within a 2km radius.
The maintenance staff topping up fuel for the generator providing hotel power to the coach.
The Airport Shuttle Train at Phnom Penh Railway Station.
The builder plate of the ČKD Praha locomotive. ČKD (Českomoravská Kolben-Daněk) was one of the largest engineering companies in the former Czechoslovakia and today’s Czech Republic.
Upon arrival, you’ll be approached by lots of Grab signs.
If you need a ride from the station, just key in GRABTRAIN in the promo code box to get a free ride of up to KHR 12,000 value. A typical 5-minute ride away costs KHR 3,000 so this free ride gets you pretty far I’d say. This promotion is for both new and existing users. I’m guessing that this promotion should be valid till 31 July 2018, along with the free travel on the Airport Shuttle Train.
The Airport Shuttle Train departing back to Phnom Penh International Airport.
In the station, there’s lots of improvements since the last time I visited 2 years ago. Lots of seats are available in the waiting hall now.
A new coffee stall aptly named Restart Coffee is also in place.
Self check-in counters are also available at Phnom Penh Railway Station if you’d like to check-in while waiting for your train.
Note that these computers simply link you to the airlines’ websites for you to complete the online check-in process and print your A4-sized boarding pass. It does not allow you to check your bags at the station.
The future rolling stock of the Airport Shuttle Train.
The refreshed facade of Phnom Penh Railway Station.
From here, Vattanac Capital is located just outside of the station, and Central Market is just a 5-minute walk away. You can also get on the KK STAR LRT shuttle bus service or Grab for free around the city area as mentioned above.
Overall, the Airport Shuttle Train does not exactly shave travel time between the airport and city taking the waiting time into account – I waited 50 minutes for the Airport Shuttle Train, bringing the total travel time including waiting to 87 minutes for the 10.2 km ride.
However, it is important to note that this locomotive-hauled train is only an interim arrangement to open the Airport branch line on time as the delivery for the three new diesel railcars from Mexico are delayed. This would hopefully change once the three new diesel railcars from Mexico arrive should Royal Railway operate the service with two separate railcars and having them cross behind each other at Tang Korsang junction.
Nevertheless, this is a great start for a revived railway to operate the first airport rail link in the country, and with the right attitudes and concrete short term plans already in place, the train service would only get better from here.
This article first appeared on railtravelstation.com
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