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.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry orders all schools, public and private, to close for SEA Games

    From April 20 to May 18, all public and private educational institutions will be closed to maintain order and support Cambodia's hosting of the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games, said a directive from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Cambodia will host the

  • Almost 9K tourists see equinox sunrise at Angkor Wat

    Nearly 9,000 visitors – including 2,226 international tourists – gathered at Angkor Wat on March 21 to view the spring equinox sunrise, according to a senior official of the Siem Reap provinical tourism department. Ngov Seng Kak, director of the department, said a total of 8,726 people visited Angkor Wat to

  • Angkor Beer strengthens national pride with golden new look and fresher taste

    Angkor Beer – the "Gold of Angkor" – has a new look, one that is more stylish and carries a premium appeal, as well as a fresher taste and smoother flavour, making it the perfect choice for any gathering. Angkor Beer recently launched its new design, one

  • PM urges end to ‘baseless’ international Ream base accusations

    Prime Minister Hun Sen urges an end to “baseless” foreign accusations surrounding the development of the Kingdom’s Ream Naval Base, as the US has consistently suggested that the base is being expanded to accommodate a Chinese military presence. Hun Sen renewed his calls while

  • Khmer ballet documentary debuts April 1

    A new documentary, The Perfect Motion, or Tep Hattha in Khmer, will premiere to the public on April 1. The documentary film follows two intertwined storylines: the creation of a show called Metamorphosis by the late Princess Norodom Buppha Devi (her very last production) and the

  • Water supply authority assures public shortages over early ‘24

    The Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) asked for understanding from Phnom Penh residents in some communes where water pressure is weak. They assured residents that all supply issues will be resolved by early 2024, but have suggested that residents use water sparingly in the meantime.