A metro for Makassar?

News #219: Cambodia plans railways to all borders, proposed Bandung and Nusantara urban railway, Philippines rail master plan, Bangkok Orange Line and Purple Line updates, Japan shows interest in Vietnam’s express railway

The Future Southeast Asia Newsletter features transport and urban development news in Southeast Asia, edited by James Clark.

I’m preparing to write articles about my trip to Makassar, including a new urban area and the Makassar-Pare Pare Railway (the first leg of the Trans-Sulawesi Railway).

While researching development in Makassar I kept seeing references to a proposed MRT. It’s barely been covered on Indonesian English news sites (there is little coverage in cities east of Bali), so I translated some articles from Indonesian news sites.

There are numerous mentions of an LRT/MRT system in Makassar, and I found a report with a map. The trail then runs cold as it appears that a BRT become more in favour, but now there are fresh reports of the MRT going ahead.

I keep track of every urban rail transit proposal in Southeast Asia, no matter how obscure or ridiculous the proposal may be. Makassar might not be the most obvious choice for an urban railway, but the same might have been said about Palembang. Who would have thought that Palembang would be the first provincial city in Southeast Asia to build an urban railway?

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News

🇰🇭 Cambodia

Among this infrastructure shopping list are some railway updates:

“Additionally, the plan envisions the establishment of a new railway to Vietnam from Phnom Penh through Prey Veng and Svay Rieng by 2030, with three more railways planned for 2050, connecting to Vietnam from Kampong Cham province, Kampong Cham to Laos via Kratie and Stung Treng, and a high-speed train from Kampong Cham to Thailand via Banteay Meanchey.”

The HCMC-PP railway has been discussed for years, so it seems highly unlikely that a railway could be built on either side of the border by 2030.

🇮🇩 Indonesia

🇱🇦 Laos

Related to this, there was a good article in the NY Times this week about Southeast Asia’s durian trade with China (archive). The article mentions that two-thirds of the containers used by one company for durian shipping come back empty.

🇲🇾 Malaysia

“Forest City project in Johor remains in limbo as Beijing prepares for key meeting.”

 🇲🇲 Myanmar

🇵🇭 Philippines

🇸🇬 Singapore

🇹🇭 Thailand

“A trial service between Bangkok and Vientiane, the capital of Laos, will take place on July 13 and 14, according to the State Railway of Thailand (SRT). When up and running, the new link will improve transport between the two countries and China, said Ekarat Sriarayanphong, head of the SRT governor’s office.”

Variations of this article have been published in news outlets across the region, making it sound like there is a direct connection between Bangkok and Beijing. The trial service is the extension of the metre gauge line from the Thai-Laos border to South Vientiane. This will be a great improvement, but it is not connected to the Laos-China Railway. There is no Bangkok-Beijing train yet.

“The Airlines Association of Thailand (AAT) has urged the government to elevate more regional airports to become international airports, aiming to generate higher tourism revenue for 55 second-tier cities.”

🇻🇳 Vietnam

This is already a wide road that would be perfect to put a rail line down the middle of. Before Metro Line 1 began, there was a plan to put a tram along here (now known as Tramway 1 in the official plan).

• Some updates on the Thiem New Urban Area in Ho Chi Minh City. The government has asked for the architectural design plan for Thu Thiem theatre to be completed. This is also known as the Opera House project, which got its inspiration from the Sydney Opera House (being next to a bridge).

The other update is the Ho Chi Minh City Planning Exhibition Center is planning to restart after a decade-long delay. We’ve heard this before, so we shall see.

This article from April mentions the proposed MRT/LRT system in Danang.

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