- Southeast Asia Railways
- Welcome to the Southeast Asia Railways Newsletter!
Welcome to the Southeast Asia Railways Newsletter!
March 2023: First section of Sulawesi Railway officially opened, proposed railway connecting Vientiane with Vietnam port, Chiang Mai HSR, Trans-Vietnam high-speed railway work to start by 2030.
Welcome to the first edition of the monthly Southeast Asia Railways Newsletter!
A quick introduction. My name is James Clark and I run a travel blog at Nomadic Notes and a transport/urban development news site at. I write trip reports at Nomadic Notes, and cover proposed railways at Future Southeast Asia. I also administer the Southeast Asia Railways Group on Facebook. Between those sites, I collect a lot of information about Southeast Asia railways.
This newsletter will be a monthly summary of new railways, trip reports, and other stories that are of interest to travellers.
I’m planning to keep this monthly, but this month already seems like a lot of news. We shall see how this project evolves.
[Photo: Train at Bang Sue Junction next to Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal Station (Bang Sue Grand Station).]
🇰🇭 Today I’m taking the train from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville. They usually use the Mexican DMU on weekdays as there aren’t so many passengers. But due to the accident yesterday, they are using the Thai DMU which is a two-carriage railcar with no air-conditioning.
— Asian Train Guide (@AsianTrainGuide)
Mar 22, 2023
This is the news story of the month 🏆
“The railway line (KA) from Maros Station, Maros District, to Garongkong Station in Barru District, South Sulawesi, has a length of 80 kilometers and is part of the Makassar-Parepare railway project, with a length of 145 kilometers, of which 120 kilometers have been built.”
This railway has been running since last year, but now it is official. Even though it is a short length, the journey of a trans-island railway is built section-by-section. Jokowi said in his speech that this is part of the Makassar to Manado railway (i.e The Trans-Sulawesi Railway).
The most recent announcement said that the railway is expected to enter commercial operation in June 2023. I’m not counting on it, but once a date is confirmed I will go and see it (and combine the trip with a Sulawesi visit).
The month started auspiciously with a news article in Reuters. Laos needs this railway to secure its fuel supplies, and this railway might end up being the first new line being built in Vietnam.
Confirmation that the Laos-China Railway will now be a Laos and China railway. There were reports last month estimating immigration time to take about 4 hours. I will check if anyone is blogging about this trip to see how the procedure works.
“The 665km ECRL, which runs through Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Selangor, is expected to start operating in January 2027.
The JB-Singapore RTS link will replace the current JB-Woodlands shuttle train.
The Gemas-JB track forms half of the KL-JB line, and at JB you change trains to get the shuttle to Woodlands in Singapore. At the moment, to get the train from KL to Singapore requires 3 trains, plus a metro ride at the northern end of Singapore.
The KL-Singapore city pair is the best candidate for a high-speed rail in Southeast Asia. Speaking of…
A recent blog post with photos of the line construction.
• KTM announces My Sawasdee Express (Kuala Lumpur to Hat Yai) trains for April and May 2023. I was in Hat Yai earlier this month, and I was surprised by how buzzing it was with Malaysian visitors. It was the weekend, so it could have been part of it. I went to the night market and shared a table with a family from KL. Hopefully, KTM can make this work so it can become a regular service.
“Work on the long-planned Muse-Kyaukphyu line is once again inching forward, but construction is likely many years off.”
“The government will deploy the amount for the construction of three rail lines, two of which will be put up in Luzon, and the other one will be built in Mindanao.”
“The revival of Panay Island’s railway system is among the high-impact infrastructure flagship projects (IFPs) of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration.”
“The 688-kilometer rail line, which features 12 stations, will be divided into two phases, with the first phase covering over 380 km from Bangkok to Phitsanulok, and the second phase covering a further 288 km from Phitsanulok to Chiang Mai.”
This is a proposed high-speed railway that would replace the current Northern Line. Here is the history of the Bangkok-Chiang Mai HSR.
“The State Railway of Thailand has started excavating the 6.2-kilometre tunnel which will connect Den Chai in Phrae with Chiang Rai's Chiang Khong district, which lies on the banks of the Mekong River.”
• Double-track rail to open next year”The double-track railway between Hua Hin and Prachuap Khiri Khan stations looks set to be opened next year, as most of the project's civil engineering work has been completed, according to the State Railway of Thailand.”
“In spite of many predictions and promises, there is still no final Cabinet approval for the long-anticipated high-speed train network linking the two Bangkok airports with the now-expanded U-tapao airport near Rayong.”
I took to the train to Pattaya so I have something to compare if/when the high-speed rail is built. There’s also a plan to redevelop Pattaya Station.
“Four train trips from Bangkok to Saraburi, Chachoengsao, Ayutthaya and Ratchaburi are available for tourists in April this year, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) said on Friday.”
“The Communist Party's Politburo said Vietnam must start work on the north-south expressway railway before 2030 so that it can be completed by 2045.”
A Mekong Delta Railway is an exciting prospect. If you are new to the Vietnam news cycle though, then prepare to be disappointed. I keep a list of news mentions for this railway, and as you can see, it goes back a long way.
I made a fact sheet for a railway that will probably never get built.