News #197: Could a metro turn Johor Bahru into an international metropolis?

Phnom Penh vs HCMC airport railways, the tallest building in Laos, KL-Singapore high-speed rail, and light rail updates for Batam, Bali, and Penang

Hello from Ho Chi Minh City. I’m back from Thailand and I now have a pile of articles to write about Bangkok which will begin next week.

This week I posted a concept map for a Johor Bahru metro system. Most of the lines have been proposed in one form or another, and I have added lines and enhanced others. See all of my concept maps here.

Johor Bahru wants to be the Shenzhen of Southeast Asia, so I wrote another article to outline how they could do it.

Here is this week’s news round-up for transport and urban development in Southeast Asia.

Latest posts at Future Southeast Asia

Johor Bahru needs a metro system if it wants to be like Shenzhen.

How a transit system, walkable cities, and more interesting buildings could make Johor Bahru the Shenzhen of Southeast Asia.


🇰🇭 Cambodia

For some reason the Phnom Penh Post doesn’t work in Vietnam, so here is the archive. This article reports that the airport was formerly Techo Takhmao International Airport, so Takhmao was dropped from the name. Annoyingly, PPP keeps referring to the airport as TIA, which is Tirana International Airport. There isn’t an IATA code yet (eg the current Phnom Penh airport is PNH).

They are not the only ones to do this. Tan Son Nhat (the airport for Ho Chi Minh City) has the IATA code of SGN, but at the airport you see signs referring to itself as

Tan Son Nhat



Ho Chi Minh City is also building. a new airport which they envisage becoming an inter-regional transport hub. They are surely following the progress of this new airport in Cambodia. The one competitive advantage that HCMC has is there is already an established national airline that flies to Europe, Australia, and the US.

The one thing that both new airports don’t have planned is an airport railway.

“A French investment company has expressed interest in building a railway from Phnom Penh to the airport or other areas, during a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Manet.”

“Concerned over negative reviews about the Siem Reap Angkor International Airport (SAI), the government has dispatched a ministerial delegation to check on the daily operations with the view to nip in the bud any shortcomings.”

🇮🇩 Indonesia

“We will focus on building the first phase of the Bali LRT project that connects the Ngurah Rai airport and Central Park in Bali”

🇱🇦 Laos

🇲🇾 Malaysia

🇵🇭 Philippines

🇸🇬 Singapore

🇹🇭 Thailand

"CHIANG MAI: Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin vowed to promote electric mass transit to help solve the nagging air pollution problem in this northern province."

“Residential sales skyrocket but bring traffic and infrastructure headaches.”

🇻🇳 Vietnam

Urgent design of Long Thanh airport underground railway station (article translated from local news source)

Speaking of the airport railway as mentioned in the Cambodia section, there was meant to be an underground station for the high-speed railway at the new Long Thanh Airport. This would have been like Amsterdam Schiphol, where there is a railway station that connects to the national railway system. There is also meant to be a light rail connecting Long Thanh to Thu Thiem, but there has been no news of this and seemingly no sense of urgency to get it built in time for the airport to open.

So I wonder who will get a new airport railway first: Phnom Penh or Ho Chi Minh City?

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