The International Steam Pages

Steam in Cambodia, 2014

There is a short YouTube video available (13th May 2014).

James Waite writes:

Courtesy of Toll Royal Railway, PTG Tours chartered a train with wood burning 231.501 on 26th March 2014 from Phnom Penh some 40km to Ko(mar) Reachea on the Sihanoukville line and a test run was operated the previous afternoon for the short distance from Phnom Penh station to the junction of the Sihanoukville and Battambang lines in the outskirts of the city. The organisers kindly agreed that enthusiasts other than the main PTG party could join the train for a modest charge. The charter train returned to PP tender first. 

Visits to the shed / works were arranged and in all 9 Pacifics survive, noís 231.501 to 9 plus Mikado 141.551 and Prairies 131.03 and 131.06, the latter plinthed at the station.

The coach attached to a selection of freight wagons to make up a mixed train dated from 1932, the year that the first length of railway opened in the country, and is probably the only surviving piece of rolling stock from that period to survive. It is believed to have been the late King Sihanoukís royal saloon and is painted in blue and white.

It is interesting to compare the new PP skyline with the way it was when Florian Schmidt ran the Indo-China Adventure charters back in 1999. Back then there basically wasn't one and the city must have been one of the few capitals anywhere not to possess a single skyscraper. Since then a lot of development has taken place but the city still has an intimate feel compared to, say, Bangkok or Hanoi.

I have been sent pictures of the event taken by Chris Yapp (a co-organiser with Ray Schofield), Fabrice Lanoue and James Waite. I have used some of each of their contributions. I couldn't possibly have used them all and in the interests of fairness I have not identified the photographers for each of those shown below.

The Sihanoukville line has been fully restored with a daily oil train in each direction plus less frequent container trains. Restoration of the Battambang line is making slower progress partly because the squatter issue is still not properly sorted. However, there seems no doubt that eventually the line through to Thailand will be open to business and hopefully a passenger service will once again be on offer to / from Bangkok.

Itís brilliant that Toll have restored 231.501 to working order. Everyone at the lineside seemed fascinated to see it running again and the day must have provided a huge amount of pleasure to very many people as well as earning much goodwill for Toll and their Cambodian partners.

The test run:

The main charter

Rob Dickinson