Thai Railway News
1. Fare Changes
2. New Services Offered
--a. New Train Lines Opened
----Suvaarnbhumi Internatinal Airport Rail Link
Thai Railways (SRT) is building a new 'high-speed' elevated railroad called the 'Suvarnabhumi Express'. The 'Suvarnabhumi Express' will link Bangkok with the new Suvarnabhumi Airport.The scheduled opening date has been delayed until 2009 (originally 2008). The 'Suvarnabhumi Express' will provide a 28.5 km link between Suvaarnbhumi Internatinal Airport (the 'New' Airport)and the Bangkok City Air Terminal (CAT) at Makkasan. 'Suvarnabhumi Express' will provide Bangkok (Metro) Subway (MRT) / (BTS) Bangkok Skytrain links at Petchaburi (MRT)/ Phaya Thai (BTS) Stations (Service every 15 minutes). 'Suvarnabhumi Express' will also offer Thai Railway Commuter Rail Services (every 30 minutes). Commuter Lines will stop at 8 Stations between Phayathai Station and Suvaarnbhumi Internatinal Airport. There are plans to eventually extend this line to Don Muang and Rangsit.
--b. New Facilities
----A 'New' Long-Distance Train Terminal
To ease congestion at Hualamphong Station, State Railways of Thailand (SRT) plans to move Long-Distance Train Services out to a new terminal at Bang Sue Junction / Station (7 km North of Hualamphong Station). All long-distance trains will start from Bang Sue Station instead of Hualamphong Station. Suburban and 'Short-Distance' Commuter Trains will continue to leave from Hualamphong Statin. The 'Short-Distance' Trains and the new Bangkok (Metro) Subway will link Hualamphong to Bang Sue Station.
---- A new Bangkok City Transit Center
A new Transit Center for rail and 'other' types of Bangkok City Public Transport is planned for Makkasan Station. Transit serivces there will include Bangkok (Metro) Subway and City Busses.
b. Mechanical Improvements
3. Rail Travel Advisories -
--a. Southern Thailand's 'Separatist Movement' - Until 2004 the Southern Thai/Malay Border-Area was a pleasant and safe area for travelers. Sadly this is no longer the case since the far Southern Provinces of Yala, Pattani, Songkhla, and Narathiwat have suffered from recent separatist violence. The 'Separatist Movement' in those four Southernmost provinces of Thailand erupted in 2004, after being dormant for many years, and there have been regular terrorist incidents in this area ever since. Though many residents consider themselves to be Thais, these provinces are largely Malay Muslim (88%), and the 'separatists' would like independence from Thailand. Grievances include discrimination against Pattani Muslims by Thai Buddhists. This includes forcible repression of local language, writing, and religious practices. The 'Southern Insurgency', as it is called, is 'Local', and isn't really connected with general 'Global Islamic Militancy'. From January 2004 to October 2006, 1,815 people were killed and 2,729 were wounded in the insurgency. Most victims have been innocent bystanders, both Buddhists and Muslims. This violence has forced all schools (over 1,000) in Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat Provinces to be shut down indefinitely since 27 November 2006. The violence has continued into 2007. On February 18, a series of bombings and arsons began in Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani, and Songkhla Provinces. From January 2004 to 21 June 2007, there were 6,850 insurgency-related violent incidents in those Southernmost Provinces.
'Separatist Violence' Effect on Rail Travel -
Until March 27, 2005, Train Services between Hat Yai and Sungai Kolok Rail Stations were running as normal. In April 2004, bombs had exploded at the Hat Yai Railway Station and a hotel, derailing a train, killing 4 people and wounding at least 40 other people. The bomb had been planted near a gas storage tank next to the railway line, so four train carriages were derailed. Several bombs have also exploded in Sungai Kolok, the city of the last Station on Thai Railways Southern Line - Southeast Branch. Since the Bombing at Sugei Padi Rail Station on March 27, 2005, and the murder of Railway officers at Tanyong Mas Rail Station, SRT requested Army Protection aboard its trains. Train services from Hat Yai to Sugei Kolok require at least six 'fully-armed' Army Officers guarding each passenger carriage. In addition, the SRT discontinued services after Tanyong Mas Rail Station. Thai Railways began running a 'shuttle bus' service between Tanyong Mas Rail Station and Sungai Kolok Rail Station. SRT maintenance workers repairing the rails destroyed by the bombs also required 24-hour protection. It's unknown if these security measures are still in effect as of 2007.