The new shuttle service connecting the railway station on Monivong Boulevard to Phnom Penh’s airport came into service yesterday, offering free-of-charge service to passengers until the end of July.
The double headed train gave its inaugural ride yesterday after the last section of the rail line, whose construction began in January, was recently concluded.
The new train, which consists on one carriage, can transport 60 passengers at a time.
Operated by Royal Railway, a subsidiary of Royal Group, the new rail line can cover the distance between the city centre and the airport, about 10 kilometres, in less than 30 minutes.
The service runs every 30 minutes all day long, seven days a week.
However, the project has not reached its final stage yet. According to Sun Chanthol, the Minister of Public Works and Transportation, in June three carriages imported from Mexico and costing a total of $1 to $2 million will replace the current passenger car.
“Launching this city-airport railway service today is another achievement for Cambodia,” Mr Chanthol said during the launching ceremony held yesterday.
Once in full operation, the shuttle service will be able to move 100 passengers, although not all riders will enjoy seating and some will have to travel standing up.
The price of a ticket to ride the new service is still under consideration, with the ministry and Royal Railways now conducting talks to agree on a fare. However, Mr Chanthol said riding the new train will be cheaper than other modes of transport available in Phnom Penh like tuk tuks or taxis.
Royal Railway’s representatives refused to answer questions regarding the process under which the fare is being decided.
Sin Soeun, a Toul Tom Pong neighbour who rode the train yesterday, said she was satisfied with the new shuttle service.
“It is good that we have a railway service in Phnom Penh. It will help deal with traffic jams,” Ms Soeun said, adding, however, that based on her experience, the train was “a bit slow but acceptable”.
Airport-bound passengers will enjoy self-service check-in kiosks for their flights at the central railway station. The service is currently available for passengers using one of the following eight airlines: AirAsia, Thai AirAsia, All Nippon Airways, Emirates, Cathay Dragon, Qatar Airways, Silk Air and Thai Airlines.
Earlier this month a train service connecting Serey Sophorn and Poipet, both in Banteay Meanchey province, launched, while the much-anticipated water taxi system came online in the capital. Like the new airport train, both of these services will be free until the end of July.
Moreover, to facilitate the transport of goods between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, a 200-metre section will be added to the Southern rail line, linking it to Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone.