SRT declares war on budget airlines
Electric trains to 'win back passengers'
The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) wants to win back customers from low-cost airlines with electric, air-conditioned trains, the state enterprise said on Wednesday.
With the public becoming increasingly attracted to budget airlines which offer low-price tickets and shorter travel times, the SRT is going on the offensive with a proposal to revamp train services to compete better, acting SRT governor Worawut Mala said.
A new fleet of modern-looking air-conditioned trains with more comfortable seats will replace ageing diesel-powered trains in taking take passengers to popular tourist provinces.
"Those old trains will be re-deployed on long-haul routes instead," Mr Worawut said.
The SRT will develop an electric system to support the new trains within a 300km-radius of Bangkok.
The first three routes are from the capital to Nakhon Sawan (northern line), Nakhon Ratchasima (northeastern line) and Prachuap Khiri Khan's Hua Hin district (southern line).
These three provinces are "strategic destinations" in the SRT's development plan and will be the driving force behind the SRT's competing with budget airlines in terms of the superior travel services the new trains will offer, Mr Worawut said.
There will be a second phase project which will extend the electric train services beyond the 300-km radius destinations, Mr Worawut said.
They include three rail sections -- Nakhon Sawan-Phitsanulok, Nakhon Ratchasima-Khon Kaen and Hua Hin-Surat Thani. The acting SRT governor did not say when the new services would be introduced.
However, he said the Red Line electric train currently under construction will link Bang Sue with Thammasat University's Rangsit campus which passengers could use to catch the new trains to the provinces.
Inter-provincial trains are also planned to run westward from Bang Sue station to Salaya and Nakhon Pathom. Towards the South, they will go to Hua Lamphong and Mahachai in Samut Sakhon.
Meanwhile, Pattaya will spend more than 70 million baht hiring experts to design a tram system.
The aim is for it to serve as a light railway linking the resort city to the high-speed railway project connecting Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airports, deputy Pattaya major Ronnakit Ekkasing says.
The line will have nine stations, including Pattaya, but a feeder is needed for people travelling to downtown areas.