RAIL travel for commuters in Bangkok’s southern suburbs entered a more luxurious and safer phase yesterday with the roll-out of the first new carriages in 20 years by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT).
The Chinese-built carriages will operate on the Bangkok to Nakhon Pathom route and will provide customers with more comfort and safety, the SRT says.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha presided over the inauguration ceremony for the new trains yesterday.
“I’m glad to see the development of Thai railways,” he said. “The new model of trains will be considered as the railway of the future.”
Prayut said the government tried to develop double-tracking on rail lines to make better connections for commuting and shipping cargo domestically and internationally.
However, this work would be done gradually so as not to hit the national budget too much.
The prime minister said he would like to see rail lines connected to other transport modes. A concession for taxi boats, for example, was open for interested investors.
He also suggested using old train cars as taxi boats instead of bases for coral reefs.
To be used on Chiang Mai line in Oct
The new train has a maximum of speed of 120 kilometres per hour.
It has a carriage to supply power to other air-conditioned carriages, nine economy carriages for general passengers, one economy carriage for wheelchair passengers, one first-class carriage, and a food supply carriage.
In these cars, there is a CCTV system and Wi-Fi, LED screens and buttons to call staff. The toilets have also been improved in terms of sewage storage.
SRT governor Wuthichat Kalyanamitr said the authority would later introduce the new trains on four express routes – Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Ubon Ratchathani, Nong Khai, and Hat Yai.
“Each route will run two trains a day, serving 900,000 passengers a year.
“This will give the SRT more average income – Bt781 million annually over a 25-year term,” he said.
The new train is part of SRT’s plan to procure 115 new carriages in line with an investment plan in infrastructure projects worth Bt176.8 million, following Cabinet approval of a Bt4.98 billion budget in April 2010.
On July 14, SRT took delivery of 39 carriages as the first batch from China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation and Changchun Railway Vehicles Co Ltd.
After a month of test runs, the Chiang Mai route is scheduled to become the first express line to have the new carriages – in October.