Aug 5, 2013

Nighttrain from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
derails again - this time in tunnel

See the locations on Train derailment in Northern Thailand Google Map


Hard to believe: Six carriages of a Chiang Mai-bound express train derailed early Saturday August 3 in an over-100-year-old tunnel in Uttaradit's Muang district. Fortunately no injuries were reported. This after the same nighttrain had derailed in July with 23 people injured and bad maintenance of Thailands train network has been reported. As The Nation reports, the train left Bangkok on Friday night with 415 passengers, 90 percent of them foreign tourists. It derailed at around 3am yesterday in the 382-metre-long Khao Pleung tunnel, located between Ban Pang Ton Phueng in Uttaradit and Huai Rai Station in Den Chai, Phrae. The six carriages ended up leaning against the tunnel wall. The five leading carriages were undamaged and able to resume their journey to Den Chai. The other passengers had to change to buses. Bangkok Post notes, that old and broken sleepers are believed to be the cause of the derailment.

Auidrey Bergner (thatbackbacker.com) was in the train, that derailed, and describes, how the passengers had to wait in the tunnel for hours with minimal information about what had happened. Read My Train Derailed in the Northern Thai Jungle.


Reported on Juli 17:

See picture by Hollie Freestone on Twitter

No good news for who loves travelling by train in Thailand: 23 people were injured when the Bangkok-Chiang Mai Express - an overnight sleeper train - derailed. Almost 300 passengers were on board, when seven carriages of State Railways of Thailand fell off the tracks early on Wednesday. See video on youtoube.

The accident happened in Den Chai district in the northern province of Phrae, about 200 kilometers southeast of Chiang Mai, between kilometer markers 540 and 541, between Pak Pan and Kaeng Luang stations, at about 3.45am. Five second-class sleeping berths, one first-class sleeping carriage and one dining car toppled onto their sides.

Five of the injured passengers are Thais, the others foreigners from Australia, France, Spain, Japan, Belgium, Poland, China, United States, New Zealand and Chile. Bangkok Post has publihed the names of the injured. There were some broken arms and minor injuries.

The train service between Bangkok and Chiang Mai was supended after this accident. Passengers were transported by buses.

Who plans to travel by train to Chiang Mai, should note, what has been said after the accident: "Derailments happen quite often," said State Railway of Thailand governor Prapat Chongsanguan. "Initially we think that this time it's due to old rail track," he told Agence France Press (AFP). It was the second derailment on the route in a month. Therefore Nopparat Chaichalearmmongkol writes: "Thai railway officials have acknowledged that the country’s train network is suffering from poor maintenance after the sixth serious derailment in less than a year" and quoted Prapat Chongsanguan saying, that "the rail system has been missing out on improvement and maintenance". He added that the government has approved some 170 billion baht, or $5.5 billion, for maintenance since 2010. But only about a 10th of that has been received to date by State Railways if Thailand. Since October 2012 six similar accidents have taken place on the northern line, three each in Phrae and Lampang provinces, but this was the first that involved injuries.

Thai media reported, that the speed limit in the hilly region of Phrae is 45 kilometers per hour. The derailed train was travelling at 40 kilometers per hour.

Discussions about a new high-speed railway between Bangkok and Chiang Mai are ongoing. Thailand's cabinet in March has approved a plan to spend 68 billion US Dollars for the railway and other transportation mega projects. Under the seven-year scheme high-speed trains will drive across Thaila on four lines linking Bangkok with the north, south and east of the country. But the plans have yet to be approved by the parliament.


18.7.2013: Bangkok Post notes, that train service between Bangkok to Chiang Mai is "back to normal". But what does normal mean unter these circumstances?


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