New track for bamboo trains in Cambodia

Cambodian villagers make a living ferrying foreign tourists up and down the one-way train track. (Supplied/Khmer Times photo)

A new track for the “nori”, also known as the bamboo train, will be built in Battambang province to keep alive the traditional tourist attraction, a provincial tourism department official said.

“The new track will be built just for tourists and is part of the master plan of Battambang province to develop tourism,” the Khmer Times quoted Uch Omthiny Sara, the director of the provincial tourism department director, as saying.

“The nori is very popular among tourists when they visit Battambang and we need to keep this popular attraction alive,” added Omthiny Sara.

The nori comprises a bamboo or wooden pallet on top of steel wheels and two axels, and is powered by a small engine. These bamboo trains were used to transport goods and livestock when the country’s regular train service was disrupted during the civil war.

These days, local villagers make a living ferrying foreign tourists up and down the one-way track.

“The track will be about 12 kilometres long and will run across three districts -- Sangke, Banon, and Ek Phnom -- with investment from the private sector,” Omthiny Sara said.

“The track will pass the houses of villagers and tourists will be able to see the way they live and how they make handicrafts and cook local food,” he added.

“We want the tourists to experience local living to the fullest.”

The department plans to run 12 bamboo trains on the new track.

Omthiny Sara said the new track would also pass Battambang’s war museum and other historical sites.

Meanwhile, Chan Kimleng, director of the railway department at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, told the Khmer Times on Wednesday that work to restore the railway track from Battambang city to Pursat province would start next month.

“We have informed the local residents of our plans and told them that the nori can no longer be used by them to transport goods,” said Kimleng.

“The old nori track could be dismantled as part of the restoration of the Battambang to Pursat railway track, but it all depends on the Royal Group which has a licence from the government to control the northwestern railway line,” he added.

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