Category Archives: transport

Travelling by train back to Thailand

JungleTrain2Malaysian Locomotive

From Malaysia, travelling by train is more comfortable than express buses.  I used to travel by train back to Thailand few times. It took almost 13-14 hours depending on how long the train stops at each station. Normally, the Malaysian train (KTMB) operating from the main hub in Kuala Lumpur Sentral until their last station on the Malaysian side of Padang Besar. For travellers who travel to Hatyai, they might need to wait for the Thai locomotive to bring the coaches and continue until Hatyai. From Hatyai, travellers will need to change train if they continue their journey to Bangkok.

Image00003IMAGE024_2KTMB Coaches

IMG_1938Lower Sleeping Booth

Ticket can be purchased at the Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station. To Hatyai, it costs around 570++Baht for lower sleeping booth which has more space and is more comfortable. The price for the upper booth is just 50 or 60Baht cheaper. The sitting coach ticket is cheaper.

DSCN3240Padang Besar Station(including Malaysian Immigration and Thai Immigration as well)

At the Padang Besar Station, all passengers need to get down with their luggages as KTMB will only let the Thai locomotive which is operate by (SRT) to bring 1 sitting coach and 1 sleeping coach. Malaysian border police will get on the train to make sure that all passengers get down. For those who will continue their journey to Hatyai, they need to go through the Malaysian Immigration checkpoint and then walk to the other side for the Thai Immigration Checkpoint. Both located in the same building. The border towns too share the same name. Padang Besar.

DSC02278Hatyai Junction

While waiting for the train to come back, I normally go to the toilet to brush my teeth and wash my face. After about 30 minutes, all passengers are allow to get back on the train. This time, Thai railway police will be joining from Padang Besar to Hatyai. There are some touts who will go along and ask travellers with backpack if they need a taxi or van to Krabi or Phuket. Each time I travel by train, I will come across the same Muslim lady which I assume to be a Thai who works for KTMB as a cleaner on the train. She has a side job which is an illegal money changer. She gives better rate than license money changer.

959484-tuk-tuk-0Tuk Tuk in Hatyai

Once the train reaches Hatyai Junction, there are more touts coming over and ask if you need a tuk tuk truck. They are cheap and just bargain with them if they offer you more than 100Baht to your destination as the price should not be more than that. The train station is in the city itself and just few blocks away from Lee Garden which is the city center. I sometimes walk there. I only take the tuk tuk truck if I am going to the bus terminal as it is quite far by foot.

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Train workers threatens to close Bangkok train station

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Train labour union workers who continued their strikes for the fourth day Monday threatened to close Hua Lumpong station if the train authority’s executives don’t negotiate now.

Transport Minister Sophon Saram Monday morning said that the ministry will ‘try’ to end the rail services suspension “within one to two days.”

The Nation

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Suspended train services

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Passengers left stranded in Chumphon yesterday following an abrupt suspension of train services threatened to sue the State Railway of Thailand for compensation.

Three of them filed complaints at Lae Mae Police Station after more than 2,000 of them, travelling on Train 167, were left at Lae Mae train station from 3am until 9am, before chartered buses took them further to their destination.

But during the six-hour wait they had no assistance or service from local railway workers.

The three said they needed police reports to pursue claims for damages from SRT for the delay. The union of the local SRT operation in Chumphon said later that the suspension of service was needed because a safety system called Vigilance installed on many locomotives did not work.

Union leader Issara Kerdsodsri accused the SRT management of not caring about passengers, and not heeding requests made two years ago by local railway workers for the Vigilance system and additional equipment.

At the Hat Yai railway junction in Songkhla, where the “work suspension” began, many passengers on Train 171 from Bangkok to Narathiwat had to carry their heavy luggage for a long distance to catch another train to continue their journey to the deep South. There was no porter service available to help them because support staff had also “suspended” their service.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the internal conflicts of the SRT should not be allowed to inconvenience commuters and interrupt railway service.

On his weekly morning television address, Abhisit said he wondered why railway workers were permitted to take administrative leave at the same time.

“The public is calling for reform of the SRT even under normal circumstances. So don’t do anything that will be even more detrimental to your organisation. The government is looking into an overall plan regarding the SRT. A revised report will be submitted to the Cabinet in a few weeks. There is a need for a drastic overhaul [of the SRT],” he said.

The SRT labour unions’ call for a replacement for SRT governor Yutthana Tabjaroen needed to be taken into consideration, and if there was cause, other measures should be adopted instead of such strikes, he said.

Quoting Transport Minister Sophon Saram, Abhisit said the SRT would now address the delays and disruptions of freight trains, while passenger trains were top priority to minimise the effects of the labour action.

Sawit Kaewwan, head of the confederation of SRT labour unions, called on the ministry and the SRT to jointly solve problems regarding the safety systems of locomotives.

Up to 90 per cent of all 196 locomotives were unfit for use due to inadequate maintenance and lack of spare parts and equipment, he said.

“In some locomotives, whose windshield wipers are not in use, engineers have to improvise by making makeshift wipers operated by hand,” he added.

In Trang, two trains were suspended for the first time. Chartered buses were provided for passengers wishing to transfer. Those who bought tickets for trains that have been suspended could get full refunds.

For more information, contact SRT’s hotline at 1690 round the clock.

The SRT in the afternoon announced an indefinite suspension of seven southbound passenger trains because of the ongoing absenteeism of staff.

The suspended services were: Bangkok-Sungai Kolok rapid train No 171; Bangkok-Butterworth express train No 35; Bangkok-Sungai Kolok express train No 37; Bangkok-Yala rapid train No 169; Bangkok-Nakhon Si Thammarat rapid train No 173; Bangkok-Kantang rapid train No 167; and Bangkok-Yala express train No 41.

Remaining in service were Bangkok-Trang express train No 83 leaving at 5.05pm; Bangkok-Nakhon Si Thammarat express train No 85 departing at 7.30pm; and Bangkok-Surat Thani express train No 39 leaving at 10.50pm.

The SRT did not say when train services would be restored.

The Nation

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Hat Yai officials go on leave to mount pressure

Eighteen out of 59 officials at Songkhla’s Hat Yai rail station submitted leave letters yesterday, even as the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) management and labour leaders were continuing talks aimed at resuming southern services.

The Hat Yai-Sungai Kolok train was the only local train in service yesterday, as the railway union workers refused to provide services for others, saying all 16 locomotives were in the process of maintenance and repairs.

The SRT labour union’s Hat Yai branch president, Wirun Sakaekum, said the suspension of the service was one of the measures against the SRT executives after they failed to respond to workers’ calls for repairs to at least seven engines.

They were also protesting against two workers being “unfairly” transferred to Bangkok. The transfer of the two workers had affected the morale of the remaining SRT personnel in Hat Yai, he said.

The labour union’s Hat Yai branch committee member, Saroj Rakjan, said the union was also unhappy with SRT’s hasty order to resume services with locomotives that were undergoing repairs, and the agency’s neglect of safety.

Earlier, SRT governor Yutthana Thapcharoen sent SRT deputy head engineer Narongrit Siwasaroj to Hat Yai to inspect repair of the locomotives and speed up work.

While Narongrit was in a meeting with train mechanics, the railway unionists gathered outside the office and continued to call on SRT executives to take responsibility for their failures. They also insisted that the locomotives would be used only if they were deemed in good condition.

Yutthana was also quoted as saying that the SRT management would appoint an investigative committee to probe whether the workers’ work stoppage was a result of malfunction of the locomotives. If not, those who had given the false reports would be punished.

Meanwhile, PM Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday said he had instructed Transport Minister Sophon Saram to follow the issue closely and work towards resuming the southern train services, as there was no reason for halting them.

Later yesterday, it was reported that Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Thung Song train service had resumed as usual, despite some delays.

The SRT labour union’s Hat Yai branch president, Pattana Saiyawong, said the delays were due to the lack of spare parts, and manpower due to the downsizing of the workforce in 1998. He said SRT had 12,000 officials, when it needed 18,000.

The work stoppage took place only a week after the derailment of a crowded Route 84 Trang-Bangkok train in Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Hua Hin district, which killed seven passengers and wounded nearly 90 others.

The Nation

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Nearly all local train services from Hat Yai suspended

The Hat Yai-Sungai Kolok train was the only local train that was in service Saturday as railway unionists still refused to provide services from other local trains.

The unionists commanded locomotives of other trains to Hat Yai depot for safety checks.

As a result, the services for other local routes, such as Pattani-Yala, Narathiwat-Patthalung, and Nakhon Si Thammarat-Chumporn were cancelled.

The Nation

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Work stoppages hit trains from Hat Yai to north, northeast

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Seven fuel trains travelling from Nakhon Sawan province also suspended service, as did another three free shortrange commuter trains travelling from Nakhon Ratchasima to other northeastern provinces.

The labour union of the local operation in Hat Yai district, which announced the suspension, said all trains travelling to Hat Yai station would be inspected, and then be “stopped” from continuing their runs if they failed to pass standard maintenance checks.

Fourteen trains travelling to and from Hat Yai district in Songkhla province suspended service yesterday, with malfunctions of a safety system and poor conditions of a number of locomotives cited as the reasons.

Union leader Wirun Sakaekhum said his union’s act was not a strike, but merely a temporary suspension of service. “We are following a fresh regulation of the State Railways of Thailand, which was issued in the wake of a derailment on October 5. No locomotives in fully operational readiness are allowed to be used,” he said.

Wirun said out of 11 locomotives operated by the Hat Yai station, four were in “incomplete condition” while a safety system attached to the seven others needed repairs. The Vigilance system is a warning device that sends alerts to drivers who might be sleeping on the job, he explained.

“The Hat Yai labour union cannot tell now how much repair work will take place, and cannot say how long the suspension of service will continue, but all the work will be completed as soon as possible,” he added.

He said the Hat Yai union was pledged new equipment and budget for new locomotives and various repair work in an agreement in December 2002, but was never given anything. Members of the union and rail workers later gathered at the Hat Yai station in the afternoon and burned an effigy of SRT governor Yutthana Thabjaroen.

In Nakhon Ratchasima, train 419, which gives free rides following government policy, stopped service, forcing passengers to travel by buses or to wait for hours for the next train after they found out that the other two free trains were also delayed. Their suspension from service was then announced. Station manager Somsak Tianpholkrang said the local train union told him that the locomotives for the free trains were not “fully ready” for use.

A source with the Transport Ministry, which supervises SRT, said the suspension of train services was aimed at unseating SRT governor Yutthana. Yesterday’s work stoppage was the third strike in the past two years.

The Nation

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Trains from Hat Yai suspended

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Train labour union on Friday morning suspend ten short-route trains from Hat Yai station, claiming the trains’ locomotives were in urgent of maintenance.

Transportation Minister Sophon Sarum meanwhile threatened that those who were responsible for the move would be punished if the real reasons behind the suspension were not the maintenance.

“I will set up a team to look into the real reason of the move. If it found that the cited reasons were not true, those who are behind the move would be punished,” Sophon said.

In a separate interview, Railway labour union leader Sawit Kaewwan claimed that the suspension was not because they wanted to put pressure on State Railway of Thailand’s governor Yutthana Thapcharoen to resign.

Sawit said the decision came right after a train derailed near Khao Tao station in Hua Hin district last week. Seven people were killed and many others injured.

He claimed that most of the existing trains’ locomotives needed urgent maintenance to save the lives of passengers.

The Nation

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