Several empty wagons of a cargo train came off the rails on Tuesday morning as they passed through Kandal province on the way from Sihanoukville to the Phnom Penh dry port, according to local authorities and Royal Railways, the service operator.
The accident, which occurred 50 meters from Ang Klor village at about 4:30 a.m., injured no one but alarmed residents, who have long been concerned for their animals and their own lives, said village chief Um Sophea.
Photos of the scene published by local news show wagons strewn over the tracks and tossed into nearby rice paddy.
“They are worried about the crossing because there is no one guarding there,” said Mr. Sophea, who put the number of derailed wagons at eight.
He said the community had witnessed several train accidents already, and mentioned one in April in the same district, Kandal Stung, in which a train crashed into a Lexus, injuring two people.
In that case, a train plowed into a man driving his wife and four children to a pagoda. The district police chief blamed the driver of the Lexus, adding that the train always blew its horn before reaching a settlement.
In the aftermath of Tuesday’s derailment, Mr. Sophea said, villagers discovered that a meter of the rail was missing. He speculated that the gap had probably caused the accident.
It was the first time a train has come off the rails since a commercial passenger train service was re-launched between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville earlier this year.
Royal Railways CEO John Guiry, who said only seven wagons had fallen off, described the derailment as a “very small incident,” adding that the company had daily inspections of the tracks by skilled employees with “international training and experience.”
Royal Railways is in the middle of operations to increase track safety, he said in an email.
Mr. Guiry emphasized that the company was not concerned for the safety of Royal Railway’s passengers, saying that it would cease operating trains if it was.
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