The Ministry of Public Works and Transport has announced that it will offer free train rides to passengers from September 23 to 26 to celebrate Pchum Ben Day. The rail cars are in addition to free public buses that will transport more than 10,000 people a day, according to a recent ministry announcement.
“For the upcoming festival, the ministry, in conjunction with Royal Railways, will offer four days of free train travel. Tickets will be distributed two days before departure dates – at all stations – from 7am to 5pm,” he specified.
A train line connects Phnom Penh to the provinces of Kampong Chhnang, Pursat and Battambang. The second starts from the capital and goes through Takeo, Kampot and Preah Sihanouk.
On September 12, Prime Minister Hun Sen instructed the Phnom Penh capital hall to consider the possibility of free bus transportation to avoid an increase in taxi fares and ease the travel cost burden of people during Pchum Ben festival.
Following the announcement, the administration of the capital of Phnom Penh prepared 175 buses to transport people to their hometowns free of charge for 5 days from September 23 to 27. 120 vehicles are ready to transport people from Phnom Penh to the provinces, while 55 vehicles will serve the capital.
Buses running on National Routes 1 and 2 will depart from Samdech Techo Hun Sen Blvd, opposite Mercedes-Benz Cambodia. Passengers who will be traveling on National Routes 3 and 4 can pick one up at the Sanctuary Plaza station. Passengers wishing to travel on National Highway 5 to Battambang should meet at Russey Keo Park Station and those traveling to Banteay Meanchey should wait at Chroy Changvar Roundabout. Buses going to Kampong Cham, Tbong Khmum, Kratie and Stung Treng will leave in front of the Royal Railway.
Khly Norak, chief administrative officer of state-owned Citybus, told the Post on Sept. 19 that authorities in the capital had prepared a detailed schedule and its drivers were ready to ensure a smooth Pchum Ben for the public.
“The buses are ready to roll – we are just waiting for upcoming departure dates. Please note that we will not be issuing tickets. People wishing to board the buses should go to the departure points, where our coordination teams will organize their boarding,” he said.
Norak added that the buses are capable of carrying more than 10,000 passengers a day and he hopes this generous offer will reduce the costs – and risks – associated with travel.
Executive Director of the Cambodian Affiliate Network for Social Responsibility, San Chey, supported the provision of travel services during major national festivals, saying it helps people who lack resources and cannot travel. However, he suggested that the government should have a plan prepared for transportation to the final bus destinations.
“Most of the final destinations of travelers will be villages and towns far from national roads. This might be a challenge for some travellers. It will also be interesting to see if many factory workers decide to use the buses – there are plenty,” he said.