Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Passenger train services to resume

Passenger train services to resume

Workers check the train tracks during an inspection at Phnom Penh railway station in 2012.
Workers check the train tracks during an inspection at Phnom Penh railway station in 2012. Hong Menea

Passenger train services to resume

Passenger trains are set to roll between the capital and the coast next month for the first time in 14 years, a railway official said yesterday.

Sam Oeun Tith, commercial manager of Royal Railway, which holds a 30-year concession to operate the country’s railways, said the company plans to run passenger trains along the 266-kilometer “Southern Line” from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville starting in April.

“We hope it will be the start of a new history after not having passenger trains for many years,” he said. “We plan to run a passenger-only train before Khmer New Year [April 13-16]. The [timing] was selected to reduce road traffic during the holiday and reduce traffic accidents.”

Oeun Tith said passenger trains operating on this route would carry about 400 people in five carriages divided by class, with regular carriages cooled by fans and plush VIP carriages offering air-conditioning.

The journey will take around eight hours averaging 33 km/h, with ticket prices yet to be determined – though he insists the company is aiming to make it “cheaper than the bus service.”

Passenger train service between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville was suspended in 2002 after years of operating losses that saw both the rail line and its equipment fall into disrepair.

Freight traffic on the line ceased shortly after.

The Southern Line reopened to commercial traffic in 2013 after extensive rehabilitation. It is currently used to transport fuel, coal, cement and container shipments, according to Royal Railway.

Oeun Tith said in addition to launching regular passenger trains in April, the company also intends to offer a private charter service.

“The company has plans to provide a service for clients to rent the train for private tours to enjoy the scenery along the way to Sihanoukville,” he said, adding that pricing would be disclosed soon.

Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said the resumption of passenger rail service would give domestic and foreign travellers an alternative to the 3-4 hour road trip on National Road 4.

“The road to Sihanoukville is busy and damaged,” he said. “If we have passenger train service, it will be a good option. We are ready to promote it and sell tour packages.”

While Kim Eang said eight hours was a long trip, he was confident travellers seeking a new experience would use the rail service.

“We’ve waited a very long time to provide more transport options for travellers,” he said. “In Europe and China, trains attract a lot of attention from tourists. Even if ours is slower [than buses,] it will attract people.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all