News: 9 August 2023

Report on Medan construction and transport projects, Sabah and Sarawak railway proposal, JICA pledges ¥300M to craft PH’s 30-year rail masterplan, HCMC plans additional 100km of metro lines, and more

Hello from Lake Toba, Sumatra. There is a train that goes from Medan to Siantar, which is about 3/4 of the way to the lake. After getting the train and then a minivan for the rest of the way, I can see why they haven’t bothered to extend the railway. It is a mountainous area (Lake Toba is in a volcanic crater) which will be a challenge if they go ahead with the Parapat Railway.

It’s been good to see the railways of North Sumatra in person. There are maps at the station that aren’t online, and I found a small spur route that isn’t mentioned anywhere. Indonesia continues the Southeast Asia tradition of having terrible official railway websites.

I’m going to Jakarta next, but the high-speed railway is delayed again so it looks like I will not see the opening. I expected this to happen, which is why I don’t usually plan my travel around opening events. There are plenty of other railways to cover in Java though, which will take a few different trips to cover properly.

I’ve been working on a new feature at, so look out for an announcement this week.

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Dispatches from Southeast Asia

An airport train. the massive main square redevelopment, Jakarta-style Superblocks arrive, and the rejuvenation of the old city area that could put Medan on the tourist map. Upgrade subscription to read.


🇰🇭 Cambodia

🇮🇩 Indonesia

"Operators of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway have announced yet another delay of the flagship project’s soft launch to early September, citing the need to ensure preparedness and safety."

“Nusantara construction 'on schedule'; 60,000 people expected in 2024: officials.”

🇱🇦 Laos

“Thailand’s Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (Neda) says it is planning to ask the Cabinet to approve a loan of 1.8 billion baht to Lao PDR to develop Khamsavath Station in Vientiane to boost cross-border trade and tourism.”

🇲🇾 Malaysia

🇵🇭 Philippines

🇸🇬 Singapore

“This week: moral bankruptcy on full display when it comes to the issue of banning the unsafe transport of migrant workers on the backs of lorries.”

🇹🇭 Thailand

🇹🇱 Timor-Leste

🇻🇳 Vietnam

“The lack of progress on the 555-kilometer railway linking Vung Ang to the Lao capital Vientiane contrasts starkly with the recently completed Kunming-Vientiane line.”

Long Thanh International Airport is still looking for a developer, and it is still a great mess. After one consortium was ruled out, they complained about the selected consortium that is being considered. The Deputy PM demands scrutiny over Long Thanh Airport bid.

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