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Free rides on the western rail line and water taxi system to end soon

Chea Vannak / Khmer Times Share:
A man takes a selfie in front of one of Phnom Penh’s water taxis. KT

The western rail line and Phnom Penh’s new water taxi service will start charging for their services as of next week, bringing an end to the free rides passengers were enjoying.

The waterway taxis operate between Kandal province’s Takhmao city, and Preak Pnov area, the northern part of Phnom Penh.

The Western Railway, meanwhile, stretches for nearly 386 kilometres, connecting the capital to Poipet city, in Banteay Meanchey province. Restoration of the railway, which was destroyed during the civil war, concluded this month.

Fares for boat taxis will vary depending on the distance, with the cheapest ticket being 1,000 riel ($0.25) and the most expensive 8,000 riel ($2), according to Va Simsorya, spokesman at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, who said passengers will have to start purchasing tickets August 1.

According to figures from the ministry, over 30,000 passengers used the waterway taxi services since its launch in April. There are three boats in operation from 6am to 6pm, stopping at six stations along the waterway. The boats can carry a maximum of 60 passengers at a time.

When asked whether there will be a drop in passengers after the end of the free services, Mr Simsorya said it was possible that people will start choosing other transportation modes instead.

“Sometimes, city buses are more convenient, but the boat taxis will remain a strong competitor.”

As for the western rail line, Ly Borin, under-secretary of state at the ministry, said passengers will have to pay for their tickets starting August 2, but added that the fares have not been announced yet.

“Although the fares have not been unveiled, I am sure they will be lower than other transport channels,” Mr Borin said.

The rail line has just one carriage in service at the moment, but the operator plans to replace it in the near future with passenger cars imported from Mexico.

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