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State Railway Set to Overhaul the Northern Rail Services



Passengers walk away from a derailed Bangkok-Chiang Mai overnight express train in Phrae’s Den Chai district on July 17.


CHIANG MAI – In light of a series of derailments on the northern line, SRT governor Prapat Jongsa-Nguan said that the Railway board has resolved to carry out major repair works near the end of the year with plans to seal off rail lines from Tak and Chiang Mai.

The SRT will provide buses to take passengers from Sila-art station in Uttaradit to destinations in Chiang Mai.

Mr Prapat explained that parts of the tracks were damaged by heavy rains and landslides last year and repair works have not been undertaken at a number of rail lines. A total of nearly 900 accidents have occurred on the rail network nationwide in the past six years, with 297 deaths.

Rescue workers and the injured at the site of a Bangkok-Chiang Mai express service train derailment in Phrae

The latest derailment occurred on Thursday night, when a train bound for Bangkok jumped off the tracks at around 11pm in Long district of Phrae province. There were more than 200 Thai and foreign passengers on the train which left Chiang Mai on 5pm Thursday, but no one was injured. The SRT repaired the track and reopened services from 9am Friday.

Mr Prapat said the SRT had already negotiated with contractors and expected the total cost would be 2.8 billion baht. The budget would come from 70 billion baht already approved by the government for railway maintenance nationwide.

“The suspension of service will help speed up the maintenance, which earlier was scheduled to finish in August 2014 as workers could work on the track only four hours a day,” he added.

Currently, the SRT provides 10 services in both directions on the section, six of them express trains. The train serves approximately 2,000 passengers per day so the SRT is working with The Transport Company to provide the bus services from Sila-art station to Chiang Mai without additional cost. The road distance between the two destinations is around 260km.

The full distance between Bangkok and Chiang Mai is 751 kilometres. The train journey takes 15 hours on a normal train and 12 hours for express service.

Wuttichart Kalayanamitr, president of The Transport Co, said it had coordinated with intra-provincial bus operators to prepare up to 50 buses a day to serve passengers during the rail maintenance period.

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