Norry

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For other uses, see Norry (disambiguation).
A norry being disassembled

A norry or nori (Khmer: ណូរី, from the French word for lorry) is an improvised rail vehicle from Cambodia. Lonely Planet describes it as "Cambodia's bamboo train". [1] The trains run at speeds of up to 50 km/h (31 mph) on the 1 m gauge tracks around Battambang and Poipet. A scheduled service run by the Government also operates but is slower and less reliable due to frequent derailments and breakdowns. The rest of the network, originally built by French colonial settlers, is largely abandoned since the Khmer Rouge regime effectively shut it down. In 2006 the BBC reported that there was only one scheduled service a week and it ran at not much more than walking pace.[2]

Overview[edit]

The bamboo train is a popular tourist attraction in Battambang
Bamboo train (Norry) station near Battambang
Video clip of norry in operation.

Norries have low fares, are frequent and relatively fast, so are popular despite their rudimentary design, lack of brakes, the state of the rails (often broken or warped) and lack of any formal operating regime.[2] Simple construction and light weight mean that the norry may be simply removed from the track – if two meet on the line, the one with the lighter load is unloaded, lifted and carried round the other, and at the end of the line the vehicle is lifted and turned.[3]

There is some precedent for the Norry's popularity. In the 1980s and 1990s due to the civil war in Cambodia trains were led by an armed and armoured carriage; the first carriages of the train were flatbeds used as mine sweepers and travel on these was free for the first carriage and half-price for the second. These options were popular despite the obvious risks.[1]

Norry construction is a cottage industry conducted in trackside villages. It takes around four days to construct one of the vehicles, which have a steel frame overlaid with bamboo slats resting on wheels taken from abandoned tanks.[3]

Originally propelled by hand using punt poles, power is now provided by small motorcycle or tractor engines with belt drive direct to the rear axle, delivering top speeds of 40 km/h or more. Fuel is bought from villages along the route, supplied in glass jars and the flat-bedded vehicles will carry any load that will fit, including people, livestock, motorcycles and rice.[4]

In February 2008 a project was announced to rebuild the railway lines from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh to Poipet and on to Sisophon and the Thai border (a stretch completely destroyed by the Khmer Rouge regime). This was due to be completed at the end of 2009.[5] As of May 2011 this project has only completed from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville.[6]

As of May 2011 the bamboo train appears to be the only train operating around the Battambang area, which can be observed by the completely overgrown tracks passing though the city. On the outskirts a tourist service operates for $5 per person to a village that has a brick factory. This is overseen by the local Tourist Police.

As of January 2014 there is still a bamboo train ride in Pursat, which goes southeast out of the city for about an hour for a fare of $5 per person. Map of location of Norry Train Station (OpenStreetMap.org) [7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Cambodia: Getting there & around". Lonely Planet Publications. Retrieved 15 December 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Cambodians ride the bamboo railway, BBC News, 4 July 2006
  3. ^ a b Cambodia – Bamboo Railway, Journeyman Pictures for Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 27 November 2006
  4. ^ Liz Price, Brunei Times, 29 July 2007
  5. ^ Kay Kimsong, Cambodian Daily
  6. ^ Cambodia's railway system is set to join the modern era, BBC News, 4 October 2010
  7. ^ [1], Map of location of Norry Train Station in Pursat (OpenStreetMap.org)

External links[edit]

Media related to Draisines of Cambodia at Wikimedia Commons