What would Southeast Asia look like if it had a fully functioning railway network? I have thought about this many times, usually while on a bus ride from hell (Huay Xai to Luang Prabang springs to mind).
I envision it to be a cross between China’s high-speed rail network and Europe’s international InterCity services. With a single visa for ASEAN an InterCity-style train would be able travel from Bangkok to Phnom Penh in four hours, and a high-speed train in under three.
I take a keen interest in transport and infrastructure development in Southeast Asia. In particular I’ve been following the Kunming-Singapore railway project, which China has planned of connecting via three different routes.
The big project that will transform the region is the line that travels through Laos, from China to Thailand. After years of planning and false starts, this project is finally (probably) about to begin construction in December, 2016.
Over the years I’ve bookmarked news articles reporting railway lines that are under construction or have been proposed to be built. Compiling all this data I have created a map of what Southeast Asia could look like if all of those lines were built, combined with current railways.
I present the Future Southeast Asia Railway Map.
[Click here for larger image.] [Click here to buy this map.]
About the map
– Routes and route names
About the lines
– Current railways
– Proposed railways
– Lines that are implied that could be built
– Lines that were left out
– Nomadic Notes Proposed Lines
Proposed railway lines by country
– Southeast Asia / South Asia
– Useful links and resources
About the map
This map is a combination of current and proposed railways across mainland and maritime Southeast Asia. The proposed lines consist of railways under construction, lines announced as election promises, undergoing a feasibility study, or approved lines waiting for funding. Some “Nomadic Notes Recommendations” have been added to fill in missing gaps.
[One day I’ll be able to get the train from Saigon to Mui Ne. Today is not that day.]
This is not an actual map of Southeast Asia railways, so no responsibility will be held if you turn up to Nakhon Ratchasima waiting to catch the Angkorat to Siem Reap, because there is no such train, and Siem Reap doesn’t have a railway (yet).
I have added proposed railways no matter how ridiculous they are, so don’t rush to the comments section to tell me that there is no train station in Pakse or Denpasar; I’m just recording what is put on the public record. The map doesn’t account for corruption and political ineptitude, both of which have held back development in the region.
Not included on the map are city metro lines or commuter services that serve suburban areas around a city.
You are free to download a high resolution PNG image of the map here. The map can be used on any website and news agency in full or part, with a link to this blog post and attribution to Nomadic Notes.
You can also buy the map as a poster. The poster is a gloss print, 17″ high and about 23″ wide (” being inches – the preferred unit of measurement in Myanmar and my printer in the United States. For everyone else that’s about 43cm x 60cm). Posters are delivered worldwide – including everywhere in Southeast Asia – rolled up in a sturdy poster tube.
Before I started the map I considered creating a scale map with the lines of routes shown as they travel. An example of current routes in this style is the train routes in Southeast Asia map by seat61.com.
Once I started compiling the future lines I realised that many of the line proposers don’t even know where the tracks would be aligned, so making an accurate map would be impossible.
Instead, I’ve gone with a subway-style map to represent the lines. Search for subway or metro maps and you will find other concept maps that have been rendered as a subway system. Good examples of subway-style maps can be found at Transit Maps, which has a collection of real and imaginary subway maps.
I have used the subway mapping system of straightening out the lines and spacing out stops to fit the map. The borders are digitised so as to not provide exact locations for each stop, but generally, each stop is in about the right place. The map represents how to get from A to B rather than portraying exact geographical accuracy.
Most metro maps apply straight lines and 45-degree angles. This works if you have a square or rectangular area to work with. With so many peninsulas and narrow country spaces, I couldn’t make that style work for this map without distorting the countries beyond how I wanted to represent them.
Another hallmark of subway maps is to show a new line for each route, rather than sharing one line. This gives you an idea of important junctions, such as Bangkok.
[Bangkok – the hub of ASEAN.]
In keeping with the subway theme I also made up routes and names in the style of a subway map.
Routes and route names
With new lines added to the current network, this opens up city pairs that were previously unavailable, even if that wasn’t the original intention. For example the extension from Aranyaprathet to the Thai-Cambodia border will eventually connect Bangkok to Phnom Penh. With another line from Siem Reap to Sisophon it would then be possible to travel from Bangkok to Siem Reap by train (and no more horrible land border crossing at Poipet).
The routes I have picked are a combination of obvious city pairs and other interesting city pairs modelled on how routes in Europe travel between secondary cities.
Looking at the map of new lines I saw that a route could run from Chiang Rai to Mandalay, opening up two previously unconnected regions.
[Chiang Rai to Mandalay.]
Some lines I have just made up for the aesthetic quality to clean up spur lines and decentralise the capital stations. For example, there are some spur lines that originate from Bangkok, such as Sawankhalok on the Bangkok-Chiang Mai line. Rather than run another line from Bangkok I have made that one into the Central Thailand line, which runs from Sawankhalok to Nakhon Ratchasima. This also turns Nakhon Ratchasima into a mega-hub of Isaan, Northeastern Thailand.
[Central Thailand Line: Sawankhalok to Nakhon Ratchasima.]
For route names, I have opted for city pairs and geographical references rather than going with “yellow line” or “line 1”. There are too many lines to go by colour or number anyway.
For some lines I have used the London Tube naming convention, where the Bakerloo line is a portmanteau of Baker St and Waterloo. For example the Nakhon Ratchasima-Siem Reap route is named Angkorat (for Angkor Wat and Korat – the shortened name for Nakhon Ratchasima).
If you have any name ideas I’m open to suggestions for future map edits.
About the lines
The map includes current railways which have been blended with future new lines. For current railways lines that you can travel on visit the guide to train travel in Southeast Asia.
The proposed railways consist of lines that are currently under construction, in the feasibility study phase, or election promises pulled out of the proverbial pork barrel. All the details of those can be found in the references section below, sorted by country. I’ve no doubt missed some so I will be continually adding to the list as more references are found.
Lines that are implied that could be built
Some of the proposed lines included statements that implied that the new lines could be extended further, though that extension wasn’t part of the report. Most of these lines were around Cambodia.
The report on the branch lines in Cambodia has one branch line going from Battambang to Pailin, with a Cambodia-Thailand linkage line. In this instance, I have linked Pailin to Chanthaburi.
The northeast Cambodia line goes to Stung Treng, with a “connection with Laos”, which I have connected to Pakse in Southern Laos.
A study on railways in Eastern Thailand has a line going to Trat, which could in the future be extended to Cambodia. On my map that puts it within range of the Koh Kong branch line from Phnom Penh. I created a train route named the Gulf Coaster, which travels from Bangkok to Koh Kong.
Lines that were left out
Even though I wanted to make the map look as busy as possible, I did leave some lines out. These lines didn’t have sufficient documentation as to who proposed it.
I left out some branch lines in Cambodia as I wasn’t able to connect them to others and I ran out of room on the map. If I make a another map of mainland Southeast Asia I will add these.
Myanmar appears to be in a building frenzy with new lines, including another north-south line from Myitkyina-Lashio-Namsang. There were also several branch lines that I couldn’t find useful information about so I had to rationalise the Myanmar map. Consider this the Nomadic Notes version of the Beeching cuts.
There were also some graphics presented at conferences without documentation, so I left them out. These lines included one from Hanoi to Vientiane, and two lines from Chiang Mai to Myanmar; one going through the vicinity of Pai and Mae Hong Son, and another from Chiang Mai to Bago. It looked like random lines a line drawn on a map, but perhaps it was the work of a benevolent Chinese rail tycoon, so maybe I should have added them.
[This map has a train from Chiang Mai to Nay Pyi Taw.]
Another presentation had lines crossing Peninsula Malaysia, including a connection from Penang to Kota Bahru, which would be amazing but unlikely, given the terrain it would need to cover. If I find an official proposal I’ll gladly add it to the map.
A report by United Nations ESCAP has a link going from Luang Prabang towards Vinh in Vietnam.
Another ESCAP report from the 1990’s on the Trans-Asian Railway featured the following lines in Laos:
– Luang Namtha to Phongsali.
– Phoukhoune – Phonsavan – Xam Neua (a possible pathway for a Laos to Hanoi route).
– Pakkading – Laksao.
– A branch line to Saravane.
Phongsali is hard to get to, so a train there would be welcome (for the residents of Phongsali and tourists). I’ve left those routes out but will consider them on a more detailed Mekong region map.
[Trans-Asian Railway in Lao PDR]
I also left out the Eastern & Oriental Express which is a luxury train service that runs between Bangkok and Singapore. I may add that in an expanded map but for now, I’ve just kept with regular train services.
Nomadic Notes Proposed Lines
Most of the new lines on the map have been proposed or are under construction. The idea of the map is that they are real projects that could be built. There are a few exceptions of lines that I have added myself. They make up less than one percent of the distance of new lines.
These lines are small extensions and not mega-projects (like, say, a Hanoi to Vientiane line). These are the “Nomadic Notes Recommendations.” Having travelled extensively throughout the region I feel I have a good understanding of what would make a useful addition.
So while we are here spending other people’s renminbi I’ve identified what would be the best lines to add.
Pematangsiantar – Parapat/Lake Toba (Sumatra, Indonesia)
A line from Medan to Pematangsiantar already exists, and Pematangsiantar to Parapat is about 50km so this is not an unreasonable proposition. This would be one of the most useful extensions in Indonesia.
Jokowi recently visited Lake Toba, making him the first sitting president to do so. During his visit he described Toba as the Monaco of Asia. He probably meant Geneva in Switzerland, though if I had to compare Toba with a European lake I would have said Lake Como in Northern Italy.
If Indonesia was serious about diffusing tourism away from Bali, it would do well to build a link to Lake Toba. Divert the resources from just one of the many railways planned for mining in Sumatra or Kalimantan and you would have one of the most spectacular tourist trains in Asia.
[Parapat – the gateway to Lake Toba in Sumatra.]
Surat Thani Airport – Surat Thani (Thailand)
There was a proposal to build a link from Surat Thani to Don Sak (the port for ferries to Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan). This might as well be extended to the airport and save everyone a tedious bus transfer. Another study was for an airport at Don Sak which would seem like an extreme duplication of resources. You could spend that money on the airport rail link.
Surin (Thailand) – Samraong (Cambodia)
A proposed branch line in northern Cambodia would put it about 100km from Surin in Thailand. This missing link would be able to connect the Isaan hub of Nakhon Ratchasima to Siem Reap and provide a shortcut from Cambodia to Northern Thailand.
Nakhon Phanom (Thailand) and Thakhek (Laos)
If these two towns get railways then it only makes sense to make a connection across the Mekong. This small link enables my Bangkok to Hanoi route on the map.
Phan Thiet – Mui Ne (Vietnam)
I’ve placed this partly for selfish purposes as I would sure love to be able to get the train from Saigon to the beach resort area of Mui Ne for weekend getaways.
There is already a direct train from Saigon to Phan Thiet, but you then have to make your own way to the beach area between Phan Thiet and Mui Ne. This new link is only 25km, yet it would be a huge boost for tourism from Saigon. Having a few stops in between the two points would make the area more user friendly.
[There is no train to Mui Ne, yet.]
If you see other missing links you think would be useful let me know in the comments.
Proposed railway lines by country
Most visitors experience of railways in Cambodia is limited to the Bamboo railway. For the last few years that was the only railway that you could experience.
Cambodia now has one functioning line from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, and is refurbishing the line from Phnom Penh to Battambang (where the Bamboo Railway currently runs). Completing the missing links from Battambang to the Thai border and from Phnom Penh to Vietnam would enable trains to run from Kunming to Singapore via Vietnam.
[Battambang station in 2016, waiting for the trains to return.]
Other new railway proposals include the most obvious link of Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, which would also connect to the Thai border.
I also found a presentation made at the ASEAN Railway CEO’s Conference called Cambodia’s Railway Master Plan. This report includes many branch lines such as one going to Koh Kong, and one to the border of Laos in Northeast Cambodia. This report said the line could have onward connections to Laos, which would connect to Pakse if Laos complete their railway project there.
Read more about the proposed railways of Cambodia.
China has three routes planned for its Kunming-Singapore project; one via Vietnam, one via Myanmar, and one via Laos.
While not part of Southeast Asia, China will play a leading role in future development in the region, so I’ve included the important junctions on the map.
Kunming is the obvious map inclusion, with lines radiating out to the neighbouring Southeast Asian nations. Kunming have already built a massive new train station in preparation to becoming China’s gateway to Southeast Asia. A standard-gauge railway line has also been completed from Kunming to Hekou on the Vietnam border.
The new lines to watch will be the extensions from Kunming to the Laos and Myanmar borders.
The High speed train network in China covers over 20,000km, which has been built since 2007. With such a track record this future map doesn’t seem as unrealistic if Chinese companies are involved in the construction. Some of the new lines in Southeast Asia will resemble the train system in China, so if you want to see future Southeast Asia, take a train ride in China now.
The other big neighbour of the ASEAN region has published plans to connect Delhi with Hanoi via Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos. Another suggested line was connecting Kunming to Kolkata, which would travel through Myanmar and Bangladesh.
[Delhi to Hanoi? Sure, why not.]
There are over 17,000 islands that make up Indonesia (depending on which method of counting islands is used). Of those islands, 922 are inhabited, and of those only a few are feasible for railways. There are currently railways on two islands (Java and Sumatra), with plans for railways on four more (Batam, Bali, Sulawesi, and Kalimantan in Indonesian Borneo).
Java already has a good rail network, so the bulk of the work there is turning single-track lines into double tracks. The big-ticket item is a high-speed train between Jakarta and Bandung.
Sumatra currently has three small disconnected lines which will eventually be unified by the Trans-Sumatra railway. There are some other lines that are vague in their details and are most likely for the mining and palm oil industry.
Batam is an island just below Singapore, and about the same size. The railway would resemble a city metro system so I’ve left that off the map. The details are in the reference links below if you want to read more.
Out of all the proposed lines that have been proposed, the Bali railway might be the most implausible. One report in 2011 said a 560km line could be built by 2014 for US$810 million, which even in 2011 dollars is absurdly cheap. Also building 2km of railway a day through land that hasn’t been acquired is doubly fanciful. Even if you had one of these mesmerising European track-laying machines you wouldn’t get it done in that time.
The last reported plan has a railway running from a new airport that will be built in the sea off northern Bali 😯 .
Sulawesi is starting from nothing, and they are avoiding using narrow gauge used in Java by building a standard-gauge railway. The section between Makassar to Parepare is under construction now and will form what will eventually be the Trans-Sulawesi railway, travelling all the way up the spine of the dancing monster-shaped Sulawesi to Manado.
[Planned Sulawesi railways.]
Kalimantan is also starting from nothing, though it has been difficult to find reliable information on what is planned. Many of the lines are purely freight, carting coal from the interior to the coastal ports, which made for a depressing read to know that most of the lines planned are for this reason. There are some intercity passenger lines planned, and I have also included a Trans-Borneo line which pops up in the news every few years. Given the immense distances and small population base, this is also filed in my “least likely” category.
Laos has no railway of its own and just one line that extends for 3.5km from the Thailand border. Yet from this point of virtually nothing, Laos is poised to become an important crossroads of future Southeast Asia railways.
As part of China’s plan to connect Kunming to Singapore, the Laos route is the most direct, but it’s also the most ambitious. Obviously, because there is no railway to start with, and also because it will pass through mostly mountainous terrain.
The grand master plan is to build a line from north to south; from Boten on the Laos-China border, to Vientiane, and onwards through Thailand to Bangkok. The line is over 400km long, with 195 of those kilometres passing through 76 tunnels. 65km will be covered by 154 bridges. So over half of the route will be bridge and tunnel. While it’s only planned for a single track it will be standard gauge and can accommodate passenger trains at 160km/h. This will pass through Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng, among other places, making it a desirable tourist route.
[Vientiane – one day to be connected to Bangkok and Kunming.]
This route has been talked about for years, and there was an official shovel ceremony at the end of 2015, but it now looks like it will finally begin construction in December, 2016.
Other big plans for Laos include continuing the line along the Mekong from Vientiane to Pakse (putting it within striking distance of Cambodia), and two east-west lines. The Savannakhet to Lao Bao border checkpoint in Vietnam is already under construction, and another east-west from Thakhek to Vietnam is also being studied. The Savannakhet-Lao Bao line will connect with a planned east-west line in Thailand (which will then connect to Myanmar), and the Thakhek line could also be connected to Thailand across the river. Keep updated at the Laos Railway Page.
Malaysia currently has the fastest train in Southeast Asia with the KL to Butterworth fast train service. The most likely additions to Peninsula Malaysia include a new line that would finally connect Kuala Lumpur to the cities of the east coast, from Kuantan to Kota Bahru.
A high-speed train from KL to Singapore is being planned to be built on a separate line, with a travel time estimated at 90 minutes.
I mentioned that I didn’t include metro lines on this map, but I made an exception for a proposed transit system for the island of Penang, which also includes a link across the Selatan Strait to Butterworth. As Penang is such a popular travel destination I represented that link on the map, though I don’t think this one will happen. All the articles for these plans are in the reference section below.
In Borneo Malaysia, I found the Trans-Borneo railway which seems to pop up in the news every few years (probably around election time). This is unlikely to happen but I added it for the record. This line also includes a connection to Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei, which has no railway.
A useful line would be one from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan and Tawau.
Myanmar currently has a network of over 5000km of railway, but finding official information on current and future lines was difficult. While there is plenty of information on the popular tourist routes, there are many spur lines and new projects aren’t accurately represented on any map. If anyone is based in Myanmar and is looking for a niche travel site idea, then may I recommend a Myanmar rail travel site.
This map of Myanmar is the best representation of current lines, so it was a matter of sifting through government PDF reports on planned new lines to create the future Myanmar section of the map.
Myanmar is one of the three gateway countries that China wants to use as a pathway to Singapore. Over the years there have been announcements for links from Kunming and Dali to Mandalay and Yangon, and onwards to Thailand.
The reports I read say that the line from China will join the line at Muse in Myanmar, and travel to Mandalay from there. It doesn’t say if this is by building new tracks or using the current line, including crossing the Gokteik Viaduct, which is unsuitable for any sort of fast train.
[Crossing the Gokteik Viaduct]
Something else I learned while compiling this map is (or was) the plan to turn the seaside town of Kyaukpyu on Ramree Island into a “mini Singapore”. Ramree Island is famous for being the scene of a great crocodile massacre in WWII. From this island, China want to build a gas pipeline and another railway connection to Kunming, though the plan has been shelved for now.
The Bay of Bengal is the largest bay in the world so it’s not a bad idea to position the island as a trading hub. However, if it’s the same people who brought you the new capital of Nay Pyi Taw, then I don’t expect anyone to be saying “Kyaukpyu is the new Singapore” anytime soon.
Along with China, India could also have access to Southeast Asia via Myanmar. There is a planned railway that would connect Delhi to Hanoi, via Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos. The reports didn’t mention if it was a physical train that would go from Delhi to Hanoi, or just the fact that you could travel this route with the missing links built. I’ve added it as a route on the map because how cool would that be to turn up to New Delhi railway station and see a train going to Hanoi via Bangkok? (Answer: very cool.) Delhi-Hanoi would be up there with the Trans-Siberian in terms of epic train rides of the world.
Another route to India is Kunming to Kolkata. This would go via Cox’s Bazar and Dhaka in Bangladesh, and onwards to Kolkata. With continual unrest in Rakhine State on the Myanmar/Bangladesh border don’t expect this to happen for a while. Remember this is a future map that would assume that border conflicts are resolved.
The Philippines has a fragmented line serving South Luzon so most of what you see on the Philippines map would be new. The railways on Luzon and Mindanao have been continually promised for years, but with the current president hailing from Mindanao, the Mindanao plan has a better chance of getting started.
Singapore has an ever expanding metro network but city transit systems aren’t included on this map. There used to be a line from Central Singapore to Malaysia, which has since been closed turned into a walking path. The current station is at Woodlands, near the border. The big addition to Singapore would be a new station to serve the planned high-speed train to Kuala Lumpur.
Thailand currently has a good network of railways so most improvements will be made by double-tracking and modernising existing lines. There are a few high-speed proposals, including a Shinkasen-style bullet train for the Bangkok-Chiang Mai route.
The most notable new lines will be completing the missing links with Myanmar and Cambodia. To the west a link is planned from Kanchanaburi to the port of Dawei in Myanmar. To the east a relatively short link from Aranyaprathet to Cambodia would be able to link Bangkok to Phnom Penh for the first time. If the Cambodia-Vietnam missing link is built then it would be possible to get the train from Yangon to Saigon via Bangkok and Phnom Penh. I’ve named this the ASEAN InterCity.
[ASEAN InterCity: Yangon – Bangkok – Phnom Penh – Ho Chi Minh City]
Another big project is an upper east-west line that would cross central Thailand from Tak to Mukdahan. This line would be able to connect with other planned line extensions in Myanmar and Laos. In keeping with the subway line theme, I have created a route called the Indian-Pacific, which is the name of a train in Australia that connects the Indian and Pacific oceans. A line from the port cities of Pathein to Danang would connect the two oceans.
Using the subway-style map you can see that Bangkok becomes the central hub of mainland Southeast Asia railways. All three proposed Kunming-Singapore routes find their way to Bangkok before making their way down the peninsula. And the big east-west link of Delhi to Hanoi is also proposed to travel via Bangkok, even if it’s the more circuitous way.
This map doesn’t include city commuter routes, which there are a few lines from Bangkok that fall into that category. I left out the Maeklong train (the train that goes through a market) as it’s planned to become part of the Bangkok red line. Check out our man in Bangkok’s map of transit/commuter rail plans which shows where the lines will run.
Bangkok is currently building a new “grand central station” at Bang Sue, in the northern suburbs of Bangkok. I visited the station under construction and it is indeed a mammoth building. Here is the view from the current Bang Sue station.
Seeing this new building I couldn’t work out how many platforms there would be, then I found a plan of the building from the Engineering Institute of Thailand. As you can see it’s going to be a grand station.
Imagine in the future turning up to the new Bang Sue Central Station and seeing the departure board listing Vientiane, Hanoi, Yangon, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Kunming, and Delhi. This is the future Southeast Asia railway, and it’s being built now.
Some routes are planned for freight, though they would also run passenger trains. One such route is Map Ta Phut to Nong Khai. This is the line coming from China and Laos. I’ve not represented freight routes on this map so I haven’t included Map Ta Phut to Nong Khai as a route.
Other interesting developments would be a line from Bangkok to Chiang Rai and onwards to the Laos border. With a possible connection to China via Myanmar, Chiang Rai then becomes an important northern gateway. On this map, I’ve also included the Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai route, which was the original plan for an extension to Chiang Rai before the Den Chai extension became the favoured route.
Most of the new lines in Vietnam involve improving the north-south line and adding international connections.
The main north-south line has been in place since the 1930’s, and much of the line still runs on a single track. There have been plans for a 350km/h fast train between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, but every time it’s proposed it’s swiftly put back in the too hard basket.
[Not a fast train at Danang train station.]
A more useful plan would be to modernise what is already there. Double-tracking lines would allow more frequent trains between city pairs, such as between Danang to Hue. Cities of similar size and distance from each other in other parts of the world have hourly train services. With only a single track, trains between Danang and Hue are scheduled for when the track is clear.
A more useful fast train city pairing would be from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh. These two cities are just 250km apart on what is mostly a flat straight road, yet this trip takes over 7 hours by bus (including border checkpoint time). You wouldn’t need a “fast train”, just a good European-style InterCity service at 160km/h should have the trip done in 2 hours, including border crossing time.
There have been three route proposals to connect the two cities. There is the most direct route, of which there are plans to extend a commuter-style train from Saigon to the border. The second option is for the line to go north and meet the line in northeast Cambodia.
[Three different routes from Saigon to Phnom Penh.]
A third option was a proposal to build a line to Can Tho in the Mekong Delta, and then onwards to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. I’ve added all three options on the map, but I have turned the northern leg into a line running to Vientiane, which would be possible with the missing lines added in Cambodia and Laos.
Currently, there is one international train out of Vietnam, from Hanoi to Nanning. The other possible future international connections include a direct train from Hanoi to Kunming, and two lines to Laos.
When Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos were known as Indochina under French rule, none of the countries were connected to each other. There is now a line being built from Savannakhet in Laos to Lao Bao in the North Central Coast region of Vietnam, which is likely to be the first line that has ever connected two of the three countries.
[Savannakhet to Lao Bao is under construction.]
Other new lines added to the map include a line connecting Danang airport to Danang and Hoi An. There used to be a tram to Hoi An, and the latest proposition is a transit rail connecting Da Nang with Hoi An. I’ve also reinstalled the train to Dalat, which is sometimes brought up as a line that could be restored. In keeping with my theme of making spur lines into separate lines, I created the Dalat-Nha Trang line. This also turns Nha Trang into a regional hub, as with Danang.
This is the footnotes section that contains all the news articles, presentations, and consultant studies of the proposed railways on the map. I will continue to add new articles as they become known. For most of the text I’ve just copied the most important points of each article.
Interest shown in Siem Reap rail connection [24 June, 2016]
A proposal for a high-speed railway to connect Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and the Thai border town of Poipet.
Royal Railways considering airport train [12 May, 2016]
Phnom Penh to the airport in less than 15 minutes.
Cambodia, Thailand push ahead with railway line [21 December, 2015]
Cambodia and Thailand have agreed to push ahead with completion of a railway line from Bangkok to Phnom Penh. The Cambodian government will focus on completing a 6.5-kilometre railway stretch between Poipet and Sisophon by midyear 2016.
Presentation on Cambodia Railway Master Plan [November, 2014]
This presentation at the 36th ASEAN Railway CEO’s Conference includes a connecting line to Laos and new branch lines, including a line to Koh Kong.
Rail line discussed for north Cambodia [22 November, 2011]
A Chinese railway company may conduct a feasibility study on a 700-kilometre rail line that stretches across Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, Kampong Thom and Kratie provinces and connected to the Laos and Vietnam borders.
China to bridge missing rail link [31 October, 2010]
Beijing has pledged to support the construction of a US$600 million railway between Phnom Penh and Vietnam. The link – thought to cover the line between Phnom Penh and Loc Ninh, Vietnam – is expected to be operational by 2015. Construction on a link between Loc Ninh, near the border with Cambodia, and Ho Chi Minh City – is scheduled for completion by 2020, according to the ASEAN plan.
Cambodia Rail Links
Royal Railway – Official website of Cambodia Railways.
Rail transport in Cambodia – Wikipedia.
Rail Transit System in Cambodia – Forum page with news and discussion.
Gateway to ASEAN
Kunming in Southwest China may turn into Southeast Asia’s ‘commercial capital’ on the back of huge infrastructure deals.
On southwestern fringe, China’s Silk Road ambitions face obstacles [4 June, 2016]
Billions of dollars have poured into Kunming, including the district surrounding the new rail station – described by the World Bank six years ago as a “ghost town”.
Standard gauge line reaches Hekou [08 December, 2014]
The train from Kunming and the Vietnamese border should take around 6 h 30 min. The electrified railway has a maximum speed is 130 km/h.. At Hekou, passengers can cross the river via a border point to reach the Vietnamese town of Lao Cai, from where DSVN operates trains over its metre gauge line to Hanoi. China has aspirations to help rebuild the Lao Cai-Hanoi-Hai Phong Railway as part of its trans-ASEAN railway vision.
China approves rail links to Myanmar and Laos [16 October, 2014]
A 504km electrified line which will link Yuxi near Kunming with Pu’er, Xishuangbanna, and Mohan on the border with Laos. And a line will be built linking Dali on the southern shore of Erhai Lake with the Myanmar border at Ruili. The line will be electrified and designed for operation at up to 140km/h.
Kunming to become regional rail hub [6 December, 2006]
India’s northeast to be linked to Trans-Asian Railway Network [16 September, 2013]
Mountainous northeast India would be connected to the railway network of neighbouring Myanmar. An 118-km railway track would be laid between Imphal and (border towns) Moreh and Tamu (the latter in western Myanmar).
Java railway projects postponed amid budget cuts [13 June, 2016]
Rail projects in Java postponed to prioritize railway projects outside Java, such as the ongoing trans-Sumatra and trans-Sulawesi projects.
[The colour codes are reversed on this map (red is planned railway tracks).]
Indonesia’s railways; just the ticket to improve logistics 
Major project in the works aims to establish rail links to 13 airports nationwide by end-2019. These will include links to be built at Padang, Batam and Palembang in Sumatra; Makassar in Sulawesi; Banjarmasin in Kalimantan; and Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Surabaya and to Kertajati Majalengka airport on Java.
Here is the list of rail networks to be developed outside Java [3 April, 2015]
http://wwww.antarasumbar.com/en/news/11844/w-sumatera-focus-open-trans-sumatera-railway.html W. Sumatera focus open Trans Sumatera Railway [8 December, 2015]
While the Trans-Sumatra will travel along the eastern side there are plans to create a west coast line, including extending the line from Pariaman to Sibolga.
Railway of Padang – Solok Will Built [26 January, 2015]
A link connecting the two currently disconnected lines in West Sumatra.
Trans-Sumatra railway in sight [27 November, 2014]
The Transportation Ministry is preparing a 2,168-kilometre railway linking Aceh in the northern part of Sumatra to Lampung on the southern tip of the country’s longest island as part of the medium-term development program.
Jakarta – Bandung HSR project could be completed within three years [25 August, 2016]
The Jakarta – Bandung high-speed railway, with a maximum designed speed of 350 kilometers per hour, will reduce travel time between the two cities to 40 minutes from more than three hours at present.
Indonesia to ask Japan to build trans-Java railway [25 May, 2016]
Indonesia will ask Japan to contribute to a trans-Java railway that promises to more than halve the 10-hour travel time between the country’s capital and Surabaya.
Trains ordered for Jakarta airport rail link [27 April, 2016]
Rail link to Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.
Batam lures foreign investors to build railway system [18 October, 2012]
Three sections proposed, including Batu Ampar–Batu Aji, Sekupang–Batam Center, and Batam Center–Nongsa. Hang Nadim Airport would be connected to Batu Ampar and Batam Center to Tanjung Ucang.
Floating airport to be built in northern Bali [27 April, 2016]
The airport would be near Kubu Tambahan and a railway would connect the airport with other areas of Bali.
Ocean airport plan making waves [05/26/2015]
A proposed railway connecting a proposed new airport to the south.
China Railway interested in building monorail in Bali [22 March, 2013]
China Railway Corporation expressed interest in the construction of a monorail connecting all regencies in Bali.
Bali railway on track for 2014 [April 11, 2011]
A 560 KM line “which will run around the island and cost an estimated Rp7 trillion (US$810 million)”.
Russian railways to build tracks in Kalimantan [27 October, 2015]
900-kilometer project connecting East Kalimantan to South Kalimantan.
Jokowi promises more funding for Trans-Sulawesi rail project [25 November, 2015]
Construction of the Trans Sulawesi railway connecting Makassar and Parepare. The railway will connect to Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport and Makassar New Port. It will later connect North Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, Gorontalo and West Sulawesi.
Rail network proposed in Sulawesi [21 January, 2013]
The six provincial governments of Sulawesi have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Transport to draft a development plan for the construction of up to 2 000 km of railway under the government’s MP3EI national infrastructure programme. The 145 km Makassar – Pare Pare line is under construction.
Jokowi wants train project to start this year [6 April, 2016]
President Joko Widodo wants work on the Papua railway to begin in 2016. The first phase will link between Sorong and Manokwari. The next phase (2020 – 2024) will be the Manokwari – Nabire route in West Papua and Sarmi – Jayapura in Papua Province. The third phase (2025 – 2030) will connect Sarmi – Nabire -Timika.
Trans-Papua railway study to start this year [13 February, 2015]
A feasibility study into the construction of a 595km railway between Sorong and Jayapura in Papua. The line will consist of a 390km section between Sorong and Manokwari and a 205km Sarmi – Jayapura section.
Indonesia Rail Links
Kereta Api Indonesia – The Indonesian Railways Co, the major operator of public railways in Indonesia.
Rail transport in Indonesia – Wikipedia.
Indonesia Railways Development [Powerpoint Download] – A presentation of future developments from the Directorate General Of Railways Ministry Of Transportation.
Indonesia Railways – Forum discussion.
Clearing for Lao-China railway begins, but questions about the project still remain [4 January, 2017]
Laos-Thailand rail link to reach central Vientiane [23 December, 2016]
Laos-China railway construction to begin in December [15 September, 2016]
Construction is expected to begin in December this year, an official in charge has said.
Laos railway construction contracts awarded [15 September, 2016]
Laos-China Railway Co Ltd has awarded China Railway Group subsidiaries contracts for the civil works on sections I, II and III of the Boten – Vientiane railway. The single track electrified mixed traffic line is to be built to China’s GB Grade 1 standards.
Feasibility study for Laos-Vietnam railway begins [25 February, 2016]
A feasibility study for a railway linking Vientiane with Vung Ang seaport in Vietnam, via Thakhaek and Mu Gia has begun.
China-Laos Railway could be built sooner than planned: Official [5 January, 2016]
Trains on the 427-km railway will be able to travel from Vientiane to the Chinese border in about three hours. Passenger trains run at 160km per hour and can travel up to 200km per hour on flat terrain between Vangvieng and Vientiane. Freight trains will run at 120km per hour.
There will be 11 passenger stations: Boten and Nateuy areas of Luang Namtha province; Oudomxay’s Namor, Xay and Nga districts; Luang Prabang and Xieng-ngeun districts in Luang Prabang province; Kasy, Vangvieng and Phonhong districts in Vientiane province; and the main station will be in Vientiane.
Laos And China come to terms on loan interest rate for railway project [4 January, 2016]
Ceremony launches Laos railway construction [4 December, 2015]
Intended to form part of a trans-ASEAN spine linking China with Singapore, the railway would enter Laos at the border with China at Louang Namtha, and run south through Luang Prabang to the capital Vientiane. From there it would be extended into Thailand, using one of the planned standard gauge routes which are to be developed.
76 tunnels totalling 195 route-km would be required, plus 154 bridges accounting for a further 65 km. Five stations would be built to serve population centres along the route, along with up to 31 sidings, terminals or other access points. Although often described as a high speed line, maximum speed for passenger trains would be 160 km/h and 120 km/h for freight.
Railway development to turn landlocked Laos into a land-link [1 December, 2015]
Vientiane-Pakxe-Chongmek project (the 3D rail project) will connect Vangtao-Chongmek Lao-Thai border checkpoint in southern province of Champassak with the Savan-Lao Bao railway project and the Vientiane–Thakhek–Mugia rail project as well as the Vientiane-Boten project.
Regional road and rail projects inching forward to facilitate greater linkage [5 October, 2015]
Development plan of four rail lines:
– Laos-China rail project linking Vientiane with the Chinese border.
– Vientiane-Thakhek-Muya rail project (the A3 rail project) will link Vientiane with Vung Ang seaport in Vietnam and a Thai seaport. This will also connect with the Kunming to Singapore rail network that uses the same standard rail gauge.
– The Savan-Lao Bao rail project (the 3C rail project) will link Savannakhet to the Lao-Vietnamese Dansavanh-Lao Bao border checkpoint. This will contribute to linking the East-West Economic Corridor – rail link from Myanmar through Thailand and Laos – to end with the construction of My Thuy deepsea port at Dong Ha in Quang Tri province in Vietnam.
– The fourth project (3D) will link Thakhek in Khammuan province to Vang Tao in Champasak.
Feasibility study for a new rail linking Laos to Southern Viet Nam [23 July, 2015]
South Korea will conduct a feasibility study for a new railway connecting Vientiane and southern Vietnam. The proposed track would link Vientiane to Vung Tau, 120 km south of Ho Chi Minh City, according to the Vientiane Times newspaper. The rail link would pass through Borikhamxay and Khamouane provinces as well as Central Vietnam.
China’s 120mph railway arriving in Laos [14 January, 2014]
Laos breaks ground on railway project linking Thailand to Vietnam [3 January, 2014]
Laos has broken ground on the high-speed railway project linking Savannakhet to Lao Bao border gate with Vietnam, which also links to Danang, and is expected to take four years.
Infrastructure in Laos [19 September, 2013]
– Digging tunnels through the geologically unstable limestone mountains of northern Laos is still China’s best and only bet for a route to the Gulf of Thailand.
– The Vietnamese, who are still the biggest investors in Laos, have a project of their own to the east—a $5 billion high-speed railway, cutting through Laos’ central Savannakhet province to Thailand.
Laos Rail Links
Laos High Speed Train – Forum of Laos railways has the latest news posted there.
Malaysia and Thailand to look into KL-Bangkok high-speed rail link [10 September, 2016]
Malaysia and Thailand have agreed to study the possibility of a high-speed rail (HSR) link between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.
KL-Singapore High-Speed Rail projected to start around 2026 [19 July, 2016]
The HSR line will run for 350km, with 335km in Malaysia and 15km in Singapore, and on two tracks going in opposite directions. It will comprise eight stops in total: Singapore, Iskandar Puteri, Batu Pahat, Muar, Ayer Keroh, Seremban, Putrajaya and KL. With the line able to reach top speeds of 300km/h, travel time between KL and Singapore is expected to drop to around 90 minutes.
Malaysia plans new East Coast Railway [16 May, 2016]
The 600km standard-gauge line will connect Kuala Lumpur with Bentong in Pahang province and run through Terengganu province to Tumpat in the north east province of Kelantan, on the border with Thailand. Trains will operate at up to 200km/h.
Penang Transport Master Plan [26 February, 2016]
An 18km LRT line would connect George Town with Butterworth. This plan is on the official Penang government website so the idea has developed past an election promise.
Rail transportation demand and impact study for Batu Pahat, Kluang and Mersing 
A study on the viability of the Johor East-West line.
Putrajaya mulls RM8b ERL extension from KLIA to Malacca [26 May, 2014]
The current express rail link (ERL) that runs from KL Sentral to Kuala Lumpur International Airport could be extended to Seremban and Malacca.
Preliminary study on proposed Ipoh-Lumut train service in progress [5 February, 2011]
A preliminary study for a train service between Ipoh and Lumut (from where you can get a ferry to Pulau Pangkor).
Study on railway line from KK to S’kan, Tawau [17 September, 2015]
A studying to extend the railway line from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan and Tawau.
Work on trans-Borneo rail line begins in November [15 April, 2000]
A 3640-kilometre railway line (The Trans-Borneo Railway) linking all major towns in Sabah, Brunei, Sarawak and Kalimantan by the year 2010, costing RM30 Billion. This obviously didn’t happen.
New Silk Route? China plans Kunming-Kolkata railway link [18 June, 2015]
A high-speed railway line between Kunming and Kolkata, via Mandalay in Myanmar and Chittagong and Dhaka in Bangladesh.
Myanmar: The Key Link between South Asia and Southeast Asia [PDF] [December, 2014]
Myanmar and India – Proposed railway line from Jiribam to Imphal and Moreh.
Myanmar and Bangladesh – Bangladesh plan to connect its rail infrastructure to Myanmar’s. This would be through a link going from Chittagong to Dohazari and Cox’s Bazaar and to the border with Myanmar.
The Delhi–Ha Noi railway is a major project promoting ASEAN–India economic integration. The project will link Imphal in India with Kalay in Myanmar. India is planning two possible routes, both of which go through Myanmar. Route I will connect to Ha Noi via Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia. In Route II, the link is diverted to Bangkok via Ye and a newly constructed portion of Ye and Dawei in Myanmar, then to Ha Noi through Thailand and Lao PDR.
Greater Mekong Subregion Railway. The 2011 GMS Railway Strategy Study assessed alternative routes for linking the unconnected railways in GMS to strengthen connectivity of India and five countries of the GMS: Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam.
Stalled $20bn Myanmar railway project a setback for Asia-Mideast trade [28 July, 2014]
A planned railway from Kunming to Kyaukphyu on the Bay of Bengal in Myanmar has been shelved.
Myanmar-Kunming Railway might be completed by the end of 2015 [20 September, 2013]
The Kyaukphyu – Kunming railway is an extension of the Kyaukphyu – Ruili Transportation Plan and will be linked to the Myanmar national railway currently under construction. When completed, it will be linked to Minbu-Magway- Mandalay- Lasho and Muse.
China outward bound through Myanmar [8 January, 2011]
A planned rail line to connect Kunming with a new deep-sea port and special industrial economic zone at Kyaukpyu.
Another rail route will connect Kunming to Yangon. This route would also link with Dawei on the country’s southern coast, with the rail line continuing to Bangkok.
A third route will run through Myanmar’s eastern Shan State connecting Kunming with the northern Thai town of Chiang Rai.
Two additional routes connecting southwestern China with Myanmar’s rail network are planned between the Chinese town of Dali with Myitkyina and Lashio.
China and Bangladesh have discussed establishing a rail link between Kunming and a new deep sea port project under construction at Cox’s Bazaar via Myanmar’s rail network. The proposed route would pass through eastern Bangladesh to Gundum in Myanmar.
India has proposed via the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) project to link New Delhi with Hanoi by rail. India signed a pact for the project in 2000 with Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia. In order to connect the two countries by rail, Indian Railways has begun initial preparations to extend a broad gauge track from Jiribam in southwestern Manipur state to Moreh on the border with Myanmar. The line will connect with a proposed track in Myanmar from the current railhead at Segyi to the town of Tamu on the Myanmar-India border.
Shan State Railway to suppress armed ethnic groups: rights groups [17 August, 2010]
A new railway from Mong Nai to Kengtung in Shan State planned by the Burmese junta would be used to suppress ethnic armed groups, according to human rights groups.
Kengtung-Monghsat railroad linking to all states and divisions [PDF] [14 March, 2010]
The Kengtung-Monghsat railway will link up with the Mongnai-Kengtung line.
New strategic railroad project in Shan State [10 December, 2009]
According to the Asian Development Bank, rail projects being planned include Chiangrai – Kengtung – Dali, Myitkyina – Dali, Lashio – Dali. Other reported lines include Namzang – Hsipaw, Namzang – Kengtung, and Mongnai – Tachilek (on the Thailand border).
Myanmar Rail Links
Rail transport in Myanmar – Wikipedia.
Singapore experts now in Cebu for railway study [26 July, 2016]
The Cebu LRT project will traverse the cities of Talisay, Naga and Carcar and the towns of Minglanilla and San Fernando in southern Cebu and reach until the city of Danao in northern Cebu.
Sen. Pangilinan backs railway project proposal in Cagayan [8 August, 2016]
An expression of support for a railway system from Manila to Cagayan.
[Link news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/461470368548/sen-pangilinan-backs-railway-project-proposal-in-cagayan ]
Duterte eyes railway systems as his ‘first big project’ [29 May, 2016]
Railways would connect Manila-Nueva Vizcaya, Manila-Sorsogon, and Manila-Batangas.
Proposed Manila-Clark railway pushed [24 June, 2016]
Clark International Airport Corp. has made proposals calling for a railway system between Manila and Clark, as well as a line to Northern Luzon and a cargo train line to Subic.
Govt gives green light for railway to link NAIA to Clark (www.interaksyon.com/article/121705/govt-gives-green-light-for-railway-to-link-naia-to-clark) [21 December, 2015]
Railway to extend to Cagayan [26 December, 2014]
This project includes the Integrated Luzon Railway [IRL] that will run from Cagayan to Sorsogon, and the North-South Commuter Railway from Malolos to Calamba.
The north network runs from Manila to La Union as well as a branch line from Tarlac to San Jose, Nueva Ecija, and a possible extension to Cagayan while the south network goes from Manila to Legaspi City, including the branch line from Calamba to Batangas City.
San Miguel mulls bullet train project [26 March, 2010]
A commissioned study for a bullet train railway on the Laoag-Manila-Bicol route.
Construction of 2,000 km. Mindanao Railway System to start in 2017 [18 August, 2016]
The railway is expected to connect major cities such as Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Zamboanga, Butuan, Surigao, Davao, and General Santos.
Railways in Mindanao: Then and Now [May 6, 2015]
Timeline history of Mindanao railway plans, with a map of proposed lines.
Duterte proposes railway system and international ports in Negros [2 June, 2016]
A proposal to connect the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental. Very light on details so I presume it would connect Bacolod to Dumaguete.
Hope shines on Panay’s rail dream [6 August, 2016]
Duterte mulls revival of Panay railways. The railway’s original route was 117km long and connected Iloilo City to Roxas City. Read more about the Panay Railway.
Thailand, China agree on S$7 billion cost for rail project’s first phase [21 September, 2016]
The 873km rail line will link Thailand’s border with Laos to the ports and industrial zones in Thailand’s east. The first phase will focus on a 250km track from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima, starting in December.
Govt pushes B2tr capital plan [16 September, 2016]
Funding proposed for the first section of the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima Thai-Chinese rail link, feasibility studies for the high-speed Bangkok-Padang Besar rail project and the Mae Sot-Mukdahan rail project, and the Bangkok-Rayong high-speed rail.
PM chairs meeting of Joint Government-Private Sector Committee for Andaman Southern province cluster [16 September, 2016]
Proposed feasibility study on construction of rail route from Chumphon to Ranong.
Cabinet backs Sino-Thai high-speed railway deal [23 August, 2016]
The Thai and Chinese governments to develop high-speed railways from Map Ta Phut to Nong Khai and Bangkok to Kaeng Khoi.
Thailand plumps for Japanese bullet train model [7 August, 2016]
Japan has agreed to use the Shinkansen bullet train as the model for a high-speed rail network that will link Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
New airport rail link to include Don Mueang and U Tapao [25 January, 2016]
Planned rail system linking Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang & U-Tapao airports on one line.
Thailand plans new train lines where ‘Death Railway’ stood [21 January, 2016]
A plan to connect Thailand and Myanmar in the same corridor of the ‘Death Railway’. There is also a proposal for a west-to-east railroad linking Myanmar’s deep-sea port project at Dawei on the Indian Ocean, across Thailand and Cambodia to Da Nang, on Vietnam’s Vietnam’s Pacific coast. If such a train service were to be developed it could be called “The Indian Pacific”, like the Australian train that connects the two oceans.
Japan rail projects: Somkid off to Japan to speed up work [3 November, 2015]
– Japan intends to build The 715km Bangkok-Chiang Mai high-speed train similar to the Shinkansen.
– 718km upper east-west corridor linking Mae Sot (opposite Myanmar), Phitsanulok and Mukdahan (opposite Laos).
– 574km lower east-west corridor route from Ban Phu Nam Ron at the border in Kanchanaburi to Chachoengsao and Aranyaprathet district of Sa Kaeo. The railway will link Dawei in Myanmar to Bangkok, Laem Chabang sea port in Chon Buri and the Thai-Cambodia border in Aranyaprathet.
Rail link for Phuket, Trang, Satun aired [14 September, 2015]
Transport planners are looking into a new rail route linking Trang with Satun and Phuket provinces.
Phuket light rail modifications announced [10 September, 2015]
A light rail route from Phuket International Airport to Phuket Town.
Japan to develop Thai high-speed rail links [13 May, 2015]
Japan has signalled its intention to help develop three multibillion-dollar high-speed railway routes in Thailand: Bangkok-to-Chiang Mai, Kanchanaburi-Bangkok-Laem Chabang and Bangkok-to-Sa Kaew rail lines.
Kunming-Singapore railway to be substantially complete by 2022 [16 March, 2015]
Plans announced to build two high-speed rail lines. The Nong Khai to Map Ta Phut line (737km) would run from the Laotian border near Vientiane to the Gulf of Thailand. The Chiang Khong to Ban Phachi line (655km) would run from Chiang Rai near the northern tip of Thailand to Ayutthaya just north of Bangkok. The two lines would allow trains to travel at a top speed of 160 km/h.
Thailand mulls over Songkhla 2-Pak Bara link [10 March, 2015]
A plan to connect Pak Bara in Satun on the Andaman Sea with Songkhla 2 seaport on the Gulf of Thailand.
Thai-Japan railway to link Burma & Cambodia [28 January, 2015]
Japan will build an 874-kilometre railway linking Cambodia and Myanmar through Kanchanaburi, a cross-Southeast Asia line.
Chumphon – Ranong Railway – links and resources.
Narathiwat in the deep south to be developed as a Special Economic Zone [31 October, 2014]
The project includes the development of a railway line from Narathiwat to Pasir Mas in Malaysia.
Railway plan proposed for deep sea port in Songkhla [13 October, 2014]
The State Railway of Thailand has proposed a route between Songkhla province and Malaysia. The route will connect 3 major destinations including Malaysia, Hat Yai, and Songkhla’s Deep Sea Port.
Critics fall silent on Thai junta’s high-speed rail plans [12 August, 2014]
This article is a compilation of various news reports of different train lines that have been proposed, and each report conflicts with the other. Some of the news articles are archived so I refer to this article for the details:
– four high-speed train lines will run from Bangkok to Pattaya, Phitsanulok, Nakhon Ratchasima and Hua Hin. Pattaya will then be extended to Rayong and probably Chanthaburi and Trat. Other extensions include Phitsanulok to Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai, Hua Hin to Padang Besar, at the Malaysian border.
– Preference for connection from BKK Airport to Rayong, passing through Chachoengsao, Chonburi, and Pattaya. The 220KM journey would take around 75 minutes.
– Approval for two high-speed rail routes connecting Map Ta Phut on Thailand’s eastern seaboard to Chiang Khong in the north, and Map Ta Phut to Nong Khai in the northeast. The trains will travel at 160KM per hour, and both of these lines bypass Bangkok.
Cabinet to consider Thailand Tourism proposal for Andaman rail route [November, 2013]
A proposal by the Tourism Council of Thailand for a rail route along the Andaman coast, linking Surat Thani, Phang Nga, and Phuket and other provinces including Krabi.
Plans underway for mass transit and Phuket-Surat Thani rail link to connect Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman Sea [21 October, 2013]
A proposal to connect Don Sak in Surat Thani, to Tha-Noon, in Phang Nga just over Sarasin Bridge. The second part of the plan will connect Tha-Noon to Phuket International Airport, and then to Chalong Circle.
Northeastern link proposed [21 February, 2012]
Proposals for a railway from Ban Phai to Nakhon Phanom, via Mueang Roi Et to the border with Laos, where it could be extended eastwards to the Vietnamese railhead at Mu Gia.
Fly-Rail link to ‘Save Phuket Tourism’ [20 February, 2012]
A proposal to link Krabi airport and Phuket airport with a fast train. The line could then be extended up the coast through Phang Nga to Ranong.
A Thai hub for China [28 July, 2011]
China’s three rail lines from Kunming through south-east Asia will converge on Bangkok. The western section includes a plan for a high-speed line from Kunming to Yangon, with a connection to Myanmar’s deep-sea port of Kyaukphyu on the Bay of Bengal.
Bangkok – HCM link proposed [11 July, 2011]
Major parties all support plans for rail link from Denchai to Chiang Rai [29 May, 2011]
Major political parties have promised to build the Denchai-Chiang Rai railroad. The planned route, from Denchai in Lamphun province, would be further connected with southern China, Burma and Laos in later stages. Chiang Rai would be the centre of a four-country cross-border economic development area involving Thailand, China, Burma, and Laos.
Den Chai to Chiang Rai railway line 
Gall Zeidler Consultants infrastructure report (gzconsultants.com).
Feasibility study of the Rayong – Chanthaburi – Trat Railway 
Feasibility study of a railway connecting Rayong, Chanthaburi, and Trat. The line could also form part of a future connection to Cambodia, either via Trat or Chanthaburi.
www.aec-th.com Feasibility study update of a railway link from Danchai to Chiang Rai and feasibility study of an extension from Chiang Rai to Southern China 
A report by Asian Engineering Consultants on behalf of State Railway of Thailand (SRT) on the feasibility Denchai-Chiang Rai railway and an extension from Chiang Rai to the Southern China Railway in Yunnan.
Thailand Rail Links
State Railway of Thailand
Rail transport in Thailand – Wikipedia.
Thailand Railways and High Speed Rail – skyscrapercity.com forum discussion.
Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam rehashes plan for ambitious high-speed railway [13 September, 2016]
The transport ministry plans to submit a pre-feasibility study report on the project to the government in 2018 and expects legislators to give their approval by 2020. The routes would be built in sections, with the whole project complete by 2050.
Vietnam to get high speed trains that can reach 350kph [10 March 2015]
Japanese support for airport – Hoi An monorail [15 September, 2016]
Vietnamese Ministry of Transport to consider the construction of a monorail connecting Da Nang International Airport with Hoi An.
Trans-Asian railway project needs over 3 bln USD for two sections [18 September, 2015]
The construction of two sections of the trans-Asian railway, Sai Gon-Loc Ninh and Bien Hoa-Vung Tau, is estimated to cost 77.8 trillion VND (3.46 billion USD), reported the Nhan Dan newspaper.
China firm wants to build railway in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta hub [14 March, 2015]
A railway connecting Can Tho with Ho Chi Minh City and the Cambodian cities of Phnom Penh or Siem Reap.
Vietnam’s new railway to link Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho City [13 November, 2013]
The train would depart from Tan Kien station in HCMC’s Binh Chanh District and go through three provinces including Long An, Tien Giang and Vinh Long before reaching Cai Rang station in Can Tho City.
Railway project mulled to link up HCMC and Can Tho [10 August, 2009]
A high-speed train with speed of up to 300-350KM per hour would travel the 170KM distance in 30-40 minutes.
Hanoi – Noi Bai airport railway may be built with BOT fund [28 April, 2018]
A proposed line from Hanoi station to Noi Bai International Airport.
Sai Gon-My Tho railway restoration draws public concerns (www.saigon-gpdaily.com.vn/Travel/2006/7/49939/) [17 July, 2006]
The proposed Sai Gon – My Tho railway would link with Can Tho and in the future extended to Ca Mau.
Southeast Asia / South Asia
Connecting South Asia to Southeast Asia: Cross-Border Infrastructure Investments [PDF] [May 2014]
Asian Development Bank Institute presentation includes possibles routes for India to Vietnam line.
Trans-Asian Railway Route Requirements: Development of the Trans-Asian Railway in the Indo-China and ASEAN Subregion (Volume I) [1 January, 1996]
Useful links and resources
Future Southeast Asia Railways
Related images I’ve collected to this Pinterest board.
United Nations ESCAP (Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific).
The Railway Atlas of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia
A comprehensive book on the history of railways in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.
SOUTH EAST ASIA | High Speed Rail and Pan Asian Railway
General forum discussion.
Read more train travel stories.
Wow I’m gonna vote this as the best 100x post I ever seen forget 10x
This would be so cool if it all comes together unfortunately I will probably be to old to enjoy it
James Clark says
Thanks Neale! Yes I would be happy even if only a few were realised in my lifetime.
Epic Post! Thanks for your incredible work on that interessting topic.
If even a quarter of these lines get built, SE Asia will be so easy to get around. As an infrastructure geek, I loved this post … thanks for working so hard on it!
James Clark says
Thanks, glad you appreciated it!
Holy smokes, I’m exhausted after reading this post! You deserve a nice long nap James. I’ve traveled by rail in Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and even the Bamboo railway in Cambodia and I love train travel. I would be thrilled if even half of these proposed rail lines get built before I’m too old to travel. Well done sir!
James Clark says
Thanks Don! Yes I am wondering as well how many will be built in time for me to enjoy 🙂
Dan Andrews says
Loved it thanks for putting out the ideas James!
James Clark says
I’ll give you an A for effort but a lot of these ideas are wishful thinking. Many routes go through jungles and will be difficult to built. Also, these countries won’t have the budget to do so. There are many other issues that these countries have to sort out before they would even consider doing this project.
Dude, this is a great and complex idea, but if it works it will be awesome!
Whoa! Much respect! I am a student from Medan, Indonesia, who also had in mind to create future railway map. This really blows my mind. I think I will soon start my version of future railway map, but I gotta learn a lot from this, thank you!
James Clark says
Hi Samuel, thanks for that! Let me know when you have made yours, I would love to see it 🙂
Thank you for sharing superb informations. Your site is so cool.
Thank you James , great sharing
I was excited to discover this web site. I want to to thank you for your time due to this fantastic map!!
Pete Lundgren says
This map is a master piece! Glad I found this on google.
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I was suggested this blog by my cousin. I am now not positive whether
this put up is written by means of him as nobody else recognise such detailed about my trouble.
You are amazing! Thank you!
Southeast Asia could look quite different in the future, if proposals for new railways become reality.
Matt S says
This is a work of awesome research and organization James. I can tell that you’ve been quite fascinated with it. Anyway, I guess Bangkok (Thailand) is really lucky for being the center of such an interesting network.
James Clark says
Thanks Matt! Yes, I hope Bangkok can make the most of their geographical gift.
Hi James, I found your article was a treasure to me. I currently working for a railway company and doing the research about the complexity of Southeast Asia railway system. Your article helps me so so much. Thank you and wish you and your family for the best of luck.
James Clark says
It is very complex, so good luck!
Brit on the Move says
Wow James – holly mapping! So, Delhi to Hanoi sounds great to me with one caveat what type of train? I am going to guess that you have taken trains in India – me too:) I used to travel from Chennai to Bangalore a lot for weekends way and the train, well it’s an experience. From getting the ticket, getting boarded etc. It’s been a few years for me but it would have to be some train for me to consider it lol….. Great research and I’m bookmarking this:) Nikki
James Clark says
Yes what type of train would be the big question, along with what gauge of railway is used. Indian rail is wider than standard gauge so that is already a problem. Glad you enjoyed it!
Hi James, I founnd the attched map by accident which is really incredible. And I have a question, does this astonishing reasearch keep updated by you all the time? Thanks!
James Clark says
Thanks Sophia! I haven’t updated the map but I am keeping a regular watch on news in the region. The biggest project is the railway that is going through Laos, which is expected to be completed at the end of 2021. after that I may update the map. For now I post news in the Southeast Asia Railways Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1700545326676832/
Syed Putra says
Hey James! We have just concluded our train adventure which takes us to 5 different countries (Malaysia, Thailand, Laos-Vietnam by bus, and into China). We relied heavily on your website and I must say that your SEA map was so helpful. I have nothing but gratitude of what you are doing by helping travellers move about by rail. It was great, starting off from KL to Padang Besar and to Haadyai. Then we went to Bangkok and to Nong Kai at the Lao border, took the short ride into Vientiane. As mentioned, there are no rail networks in Laos, so we ended up taking the sleeper bus to Vinh, where we continued our journey to Hanoi. After 4 nights on the train, we decided to take time off and go to Lao Cai and drive up to Sapa for a night of R&R. We continued our journey to Hekao and went to Kunming where we spent another 5 nights there. It was worth it and I truly appreciate your in depth research. Thank you!
Syed Putra says
Hey James! We have just concluded our train adventure which takes us to 5 different countries (Malaysia, Thailand, Laos-Vietnam by bus, and into China). We relied heavily on your website and I must say that your SEA map was so helpful. I have nothing but gratitude to what you are doing by helping travellers move about by rail. It was great, starting off from KL to Padang Besar and to Haadyai. Then we went to Bangkok and to Nong Kai at the Lao border, took the short ride into Vientiane. As mentioned, there are no rail networks in Laos, so we ended up taking the sleeper bus to Vinh, where we continued our journey to Hanoi. After 4 nights overland, we decided to take time off and go to Lao Cai and drive up to Sapa for a night of R&R. We continued our journey to Hekao and went to Kunming where we spent another 5 nights there. It was worth it and I truly appreciate your in depth research and inputs. Thank you, James!
James Clark says
Thanks Syed! Sounds like an epic trip, and I have yet to do the Lao Cai to Kunming trip – soon I hope!
Great blog, but not sure if this idea will ever happen.