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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - End of the line for passenger train service to Sihanoukville

End of the line for passenger train service to Sihanoukville

End of the line for passenger train service to Sihanoukville

Royal Railways of Cambodia has no plans to re-instate passenger train service to

Sihanoukville, although the line is still used for cargo.

Sokhom

Pheakavanmony, president of Royal Railways, said the company is not considering

restarting passenger travel along the once-popular, scenic

route.

Authorities stopped running passenger cars on the Sihanoukville

line in 2002, when the department was forced to become a state public enterprise

and thus operate more like a private business, Pheakavanmony said.

"Because the rail condition is not good and the government repaired

[National Road 4], people thought it wasn't so fast to go by train," he said.

"Every month we were losing money from loss of passengers."

Cambodian

operators of National Road 4, the AZ company, have recently hiked tolls on the

American-built road.

Pheakavanmony pointed out that the rail operator's

only other line - Phnom Penh to Battambang - has managed to retain its passenger

service because many rural travelers have no better option.

"It's cheap

for the poor people, and the roads [to Battambang] aren't as good,"

Pheakavanmony said.

Despite the halting of passenger railway service to

the popular tourist destination, some travelers still find their way to the

beach by rail. Ticket-vendors intermittently sell spots on the cargo trains,

charging 60 riel per km for foreigners and 23 riel per km for locals, said Reth

Boeun, director of the Exportation Department, part of the Royal

Railways.

Trains generally take around five Cambodian passengers, with

the occasional foreigner.

"But we don't like to sell tickets to

foreigners," Boeun said. "The times aren't fixed so they might arrive late at

night when it's dangerous."

The Sihanoukville line gained international

notoriety in 1994, when Khmer Rouge soldiers ambushed the train, killing 13

Cambodians as well as kidnapping and eventually murdering three western

backpackers.

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