The Transportation Ministry is launching two transportation services this week in order to accommodate those traveling ahead of Khmer New Year.
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The western railway service in Banteay Meancheay province, stretching about 48km beween Poipet and Serey Sophorn, will become operational as of today while the water taxis from Preak Pnov in northern Phnom Penh to Takmao city in Kandal province will start on Friday.
Ministry spokesman Va Simsorya said the services were Khmer New Year gifts for the Cambodian people.
The rail service, run by Royal Railways, will be free until the end of July, while the ministry-controlled water taxi service will be the same.
There are five stations along the 25km waterway from Preak Pnov to Takmao and the service will take an average 35 minutes, Mr Simsorya said.
“We set the deadline for launching the water taxi service, so we have a race against time to finish construction and launch the service on April 6,” Mr Simsorya said.
Once operational, three boats will be used at a time out six boats. Each can carry 60 passengers.
“We have not decided the boat fares yet,” Mr Simsorya said.
Minister Sun Chanthol said last month that discussion of water taxi fares would be continuing. “For sure, the water taxi fares will be affordable as are city bus fares,” he said.
In the first stage, the water taxi service would be under the management of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.
But Mr Chanthol said that after a while, management would be handed over to Phnom Penh Municipal authorities.
“Waterway transport will vitally contribute to dealing with mainland traffic congestion and traffic accidents, and particularly will save time,” he said.
Mr Chanthol is due to preside over the launch of the Poipet-Serey Sophorn railway service.
Chan Kimleng, director of the ministry’s railway department, said the service was for both national and foreign passengers.
Passengers need to claim their free tickets at stations, he said, adding that there would be three services per day.
The ministry and Royal Railways are also racing to get the Phnom Penh International Airport rail link into service before Khmer New Year in the middle of this month. The service will also be free for the first three months.