Rail Services Suspended in Southern Thailand

Violence in the three provinces in Thailand deep South continues unabated. Over the week-end, a bomb exploded on a train linking Bangkok to Sungai Kolok via Hat Yai and Pattani. The blast occurred near Ban Nikhom Khok Pho railway station in Pattani’s Khok Pho district on Saturday night.

The bomb killed a railway worker and wounded three other people including the rail station manager. Following the accident, the State Railway of Thailand has decided to suspend all services to the three southernmost provinces. It will force many Muslim living in the south to look for alternative means of transportation just ahead of the Eid holiday.

Talking to Thai reporters, State Railway of Thailand governor Wutthichart Kalayanamitr said he expected the repairs to take about 10 days. Then, it would be possible again to let trains linking the Deep South from Bangkok. However, media rumours mention about an indefinite suspension of the service as long as security has not been thoroughly assessed by SRT, military and security officers. Rail tracks in the south are regularly bombed  by insurgents.

From now, all the trains bound to Southern Thailand will end up in Hat Yai, the main commercial city in the south and a major connecting point for the South. Hat Yai is also a major tourist destination for Malaysian travellers.

The blast is the second attack on a train this year. The first bombing in July happened just a few days before the celebration of Eid-al-Fitr and similar concerns about passengers’ safety have now emerged due to the coming religious celebration. Private bus and van operators are already increasing the number of departures following the cancellation of train services. Alternatively, travellers can directly fly to the South with regular daily flights of Thai AirAsia and Nok Air to Narathiwat from Bangkok Don Mueang.