I came across a clever entrepreneurial innovation in Cambodia. A 300-kilometer rail line connects Phnom Penh to Battambang, but state-run passenger trains operate only four times a month. Derailments and breakdowns cut the average speed between Cambodia’s two largest cities to just 20 km/hour (12 mph).
Hundreds of local entrepreneurs operate lightweight “norries” — effectively bamboo go-karts on rails, also known as “flying carpets” — to transport people and goods on the same tracks, with convenient schedules and speeds up to 50 km/hour. Check out the 2006 video (you’ll need to click to view on YouTube):
That’s a great way to meet an unmet need! Sure, everyone’s technically trespassing — and there’s no safety equipment beyond the wooden footbrakes — but it’s definitely a creative business solution.
According to Deutsche Welle, “flying carpets” will soon disappear, because a German rail operator is rebuilding the railroad. Better take your 50-cent norry ride while you still can!
Would you ride on one of the norries in Cambodia?