SRT warns against embarrassing videos

SRT warns against embarrassing videos

State Railway of Thailand (SRT) staff have been warned they could face the axe for releasing video clips that damage the organisation's reputation.

A clip on YouTube that the State Railway of Thailand does not want to see again.

The order followed the posting of a video clip on YouTube on May 31, which forced SRT governor Prapas Chongsanguan to guarantee the safety of its locomotives.

The clip shows an engine driver using one hand to keep the windshield wipers functioning while driving the train though the rain.

Pluem Peththongklieng, chief of the technical division, said any staff making clips and posting them online would face punishment including possible dismissal.

The engineer who posted the clip of the driver has received a warning.

Each SRT locomotive carries a driver and an engineer. The engine in the clip was a French-manufactured Alstom locomotive that has been used to haul trains for more than 40 years.

Chedchoo Buakhao, acting chief of the locomotive maintenance department, said the wipers on engine No. 4409 did not function and the controller had to use the "backup system".

The equipment has since been repaired, he added.

The state agency has about 200 engines and about 160 are in use at any given time while the rest are undergoing routine checks. Their average age is 40 years.

The SRT has been in the red since 1987, with accumulated losses topping 70 billion baht. The losses stem from huge pension obligations as well as government mandates to keep fares low or even free. As a result, it has been unable to invest in new rolling stock, and track maintenance has also suffered.

About 64% of the SRT's 4,043 kilometres of tracks are at least 38 years old, and 31% of the sleepers are wooden. They are being replaced in stages with concrete ones.

In the first nine months of last year, the SRT averaged 11 derailments a month. The problems became so severe on the northern line that authorities had to close a 300-kilometre stretch from Uttaradit to Chiang Mai for 45 days for a complete overhaul.

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