BANGKOK – Love Thailand Party leader Chuwit Kamolvisit claimed on on Thursday that the use of low-quality structural steel and track ballast by railway contractors is behind the derailments that have plagued the SRT in 2013.
For example, BS 100a rail steel was ordered from a small steel plant in China’s Liao Ning Province at 20,000 baht a tonne, 25,000 baht lower than the set price, he said.
The factory normally produces sheet pile steel and had no record of exporting steel for use in the construction of a train track to any other country.
Mr Chuwit said some contractors also recycle stone from old railway ballast for use in the maintenance of the northern railway track, which is now undergoing major repair and is closed until the end of October.
He claimed a contractor rebuilding a section of track at kilometre 249 between Lam Narai and Bua Yai in Lop Buri province had dug up stone near the track and sold it to the SRT for use in track maintenance.
He had sold what already belongs to the State Railway of Thailand back to the SRT, he said.
Transport Minister Chatchart Sitthiphan and SRT governor Prapat Jongsanguan acknowledged Mr Chuwit’s allegations.
Mr Chatchart said Mr Prapat would be in charge of investigating the accusations made by the Love Thailand Party leader.
Between Jan 1 and Sept 13, 114 trains went off the tracks in the SRT system, or 11 every month on average, compared with 89 derailments in the whole of 2012. Thirteen of the derailments occurred on the northern line between Uttaradit and Chiang Mai, a major tourist route, which is now closed for repairs.
The State Railway of Thailand insists the maintenance of the northern railway line from Uttaradit to Chiang Mai will be completed in 45 days as planned.
SRT governor Prapat Chongsanguan also said he was confident the number of train passengers between Bangkok and Chiang Mai _ about 2,000 per day _ would not decrease during the repair work, despite the fact they have to switch to a bus when they reach Uttaradit.
The SRT plans to suspend services along a 300km stretch from Sila-art station in Uttaradit to Chiang Mai from Monday until Oct 31.