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PM to negotiate deal for free train rides to the coast

May Kunmakara / Khmer Times Share:
Passengers in a train travelling from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday said he will negotiate with Royal Railways, the company in charge of the local railroad network, to suspend fare charges on the line connecting Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville during the upcoming Pchum Ben holiday.

Mr Hun Sen made a similar announcement on Wednesday, when he extended the fare-free period in the capital’s waterway taxi system until the end of the year.

That announcement was followed by a similar statement by Royal Railways later on Wednesday, in which it said free rides on the western rail line, which links Phnom Penh to Poipet city, will continue until January 2019.

Talking to workers in Po Senchey district, the prime minister said he will start negotiations with Oknha Kith Meng, owner of Royal Railways, to secure free rides for Cambodians on the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville rail line during this year’s Pchum Ben holidays.

“I will ask that he doesn’t charge fares for Cambodians during Pchum Ben Day. This will cut down expenses for the people and will reduce accidents, as less people will be driving cars,” he said.

“From now on, we will try to have free-of-charge service on Khmer New Year and Pchum Ben Day for people travelling by train and bus,” he added.

Train service between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville resumed in April 2016, after it was suspended in 2002 due to a lack of demand and following complaints that the trains was outdated.

Trains in the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville line run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. According to a railway employee contacted yesterday by Khmer Times, on average 100 people ride the line every day. There are twice as many passengers during public holidays, she added.

“Passengers, both local and foreign, are very happy with our service now because we have improved a lot and have upgraded our carriages,” she said.

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