Don't travel to Chiang Mai by train: Derailments on the Bangkok - Chiang Mai Northern line.

16:38 Amy 1 Comments

There have been eleven de-railings on the same Northern train line in nine months.

Railway authorities said the crash was caused by old track on the route from Bangkok In the past I have always recommended friends and family take the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.  It's great!  Whilst it takes around sixteen hours instead of the promised eleven, you can walk around when you want and before bedtime pull the curtain over and snuggle up with two people in one bed to watch a horror movie on your laptop.

Sleeping isn't exactly easy, but it's way better than trying to sleep sat up on a bus.  Each passenger gets their own bed, with clean sheets and blankets.  

However, in light of recent events, perhaps you should pack a crash helmet along with your Kindle if you plan to brave the train.  The latest derailment happened last Sunday (1st of September 2013).

I have told my friends to cancel all train travel to Chiang Mai.

Absolutely not a dramatic over-reaction  Eleven derailments in nine months?  I'm not even surprised when I hear about the latest one any more.  Air travel is by far the best option if you can afford it.  I am hesitant to recommend bus travel in Thailand after hearing countless stories of bus accidents caused by drivers high on yaba (meth).

What's going on, Thailand?  Why so many derailments?

It's unclear what causes the derailings.  Probably the old deteriorating tracks and trains are to blame.  Possibly the rainy season weather is shifting the earth underneath the tracks, causing damage.  Perhaps Nattaporn the Train Driver had one too many beers.  Perhaps it was sabotage.  People have even suggested that government may be behind it.

What is clear is that the trains and tracks are twice as old as my Great Aunt Mavis.  Repairs don't happen because the State Railway of Thailand has no money.  The cost of running the third class service on the Northern line is ten times more than the revenue raised from fares.  Apparently, the State Railway of Thailand lost around 10 billion baht in 2012.

This means that we probably won't be seeing a safe Northern line for some time.

I do love Thailand, but unsafe transport makes me nervous and like living here less.

Better save a few extra pennies to book those flight tickets.

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1 comment:

  1. Har - I'm not surprised either! During my two months in Thailand earlier this year, I travelled by train several times including 3 overnight 12 hour journeys. Yes it is cheap. Yes you get a bed with clean linen --- but the cons outweigh the experience! Yes you get to "rest" - no, strike that out! You get to lie down. Then you have to sprag yourself to avoid a skull fracture and several broken limbs! The trains are VERY noisy and VERY clackerty. Then suddenly the driver slams on the brakes and the carriages all smash together. This happens on arrival at a station and whenever he just stops in the middle of nowhere for no apparent reason! Do not, repeat, do not have a meal on the train, take a picnic - you have been warned! Do not want to go to the toilet - although, having said that, at least they don't smell as the window is open all the time (but expect to look out and see another train going the other way - just wave. They know you are on the toilet!) Yes, it WAS an experience but not one that I particularly want to do again - it didn't get any better and I think I gave it a good try. Then again, maybe because I am quite a bit older than Amy, I just want a few comforts to pass those 12 hours, most of which of course is in the pitch dark so no, you don't see any scenery! And now, all these derailments. I will never ever never moan about trains in the UK ever again!


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