On the 31st of January 2009 I started what was meant to be an 8 day long rail fan and photography trip around the branch lines of Southern Thailand. This trip started as planned with a 17 hour 1st class sleeper train ride from Hualamphong Station in Bangkok to Hat Yai Junction.
However this trip quickly took a turn for the worse after just 4 hours in Hat Yai. When I took a nasty fall while photographing trains and infrastructure in the rail yard at Hat Yai Junction. This fall destroyed my only camera and effectively brought the entire trip to a sudden and sad end.
However destroying my camera was not the end of the bad luck on this trip. The next morning I woke with a very nasty case of food poisoning that forced me to rush back to Bangkok to seek good medical care at a major hospital.
This hasty exit from Hat Yai required me to just turn up at the airport and buy any available ticket to Bangkok. I ended up using 1-2-Go airlines as it was the earliest departing flight. Not the best airline in the world but ok in the end.
The lesson I learnt from this disaster of a trip was that even the best advanced planning and budgeting can be destroyed by something as simple as a fall or getting sick.
Although the trip was ruined after just 4 hours I did manage to get some pictures around the rail yard at Hat Yai Junction. More on these pictures later on in this post.
A little Background on Hat Yai Junction.
Hat Yai Junction is located 928.58 km from Bangkok on the main south line. Hat Yai is the Junction for the Padang Besar and Sungai Kolok lines. These two lines connect Thailand with Malaysia. Although only the Padang Besar line actually allows direct cargo and passenger railway links into Malaysia’s KTMB railway system.
Hat Yai station has 3 platforms and a large depot and workshop to the south west of the station on the opposite side of the rail yard. The maintenance of various locomotives is undertaken at the Hat Yai Junction workshop. At the rear of the workshop is a large electric powered turntable that rarely sees any use.
The railway 1st came to the area in 1914 with the opening of the Utapao – Songkhla railway and the Utapao – Phattalung railway. In 1917 this railway was extended the few extra km south to Hat Yai Junction. In 1918 the Padang Besar line was competed allowing direct access to Malaysia. From 1920 until 1922 the Hat Yai – Sungai Kolok railway was completed in various stages..
Today the station at Utapao is closed with all services stopping only at Hat Yai Junction. In addition the Songkhla commuter railway is now abandoned with the rails still in place and is slowly being built over by locals. This line today would be a very useful commuter line for the city of Hat Yai. In the future it may reopen as some form of light metro line for the ever growing population of Hat Yai.
In terms of cargo demand the Padang Besar line is the far busiest route south of Hat Yai Junction. A joint project between KTMB (Malaysia) and SRT (Thailand) to provide a “Land Bridge” cargo train service between Malaysia and Bang Sue in Bangkok. At least 2 container trains operate daily via Hat Yai Junction under the “Land Bridge” service. The international express passenger train to Butterworth also uses this line on a daily basis.
In terms of passenger demand the Hat Yai – Sungai Kolok and the line north to Bangkok makes up the bulk of passenger numbers. This is despite the Hat Yai – Sungai Kolok line being the most dangerous railway in South East Asia. This line is often known as the “Insurgency line” and is a big problem for SRT.
The Hat Yai area has a rather poor reputation for terrorism and this does have a major effect on the railway and its passengers from time to time. All stations on the Hat Yai – Sungai Kolok line have military style armed guards to protect the trains and passengers.
Every the train on the Sungai Kolok line has armed guards. These guards also walk up and down the train waving bomb detectors over passenger’s luggage throughout the trip. As a result of the terrorism in the area train services on the Hat Yai – Sungai Kolok line are often delayed or cancelled on a regular basis.
Without any alternative transport arranged by SRT. Thus leaving passengers to find there own way to Sungai Kolok normally by using costly commuter van services. These van services appear to charge a “terrorism” surcharge on top of the normal fare thus upping the price greatly.
Now onto the photographs I actually managed to get from the short time I spent in Hat Yai.
Hualamphong Station (0.0km) at 3.10pm on Saturday 31st January 2009.
1. This is a shot of the 1st class sleeper carriage on the Special Express 37. This carriage was made by Hyundai in 1996. Taken looking north along platform 4 at Hualamphong station. In the background Ahlstrom loco number 4402 can be seen just after it had arrived at Hualamphong.
2. This is a close up shot of the diesel fuel trolleys next to the 1st class sleeper carriage. All of SRTs aircon sleeper carriages have an under floor diesel powered aircon unit. These units are refueled on the platform while the train waits to depart.
3. This is another angle on the 1st class sleeper carriage on the Special Express 37. Taken looking south east along the platform. In the foreground is a Thai Islamic lady waiting to board the train.
4. This is an inside shot of the 1st class sleeper car. Taken looking towards the cabin door. During the day the top bunk folds down to become a large couch like seat.
5. This is another inside shot of the 1st class sleeper car. Taken looking towards the window. In each cabin there is a small sink and mirror. These cabins offer the highest level of comfort for any night train in Thailand.
6. This is a shot of the 1st class sleeper cabin made up for night use. Each bunk has its own light and is reasonably comfortable. The main benefit of going 1st class is the total privacy that you cannot get in 2nd class sleeper.
7. This is a shot of the 1st class sleeper ticket for Special express 37 to Hat Yai. The 1st class sleeper is the most expensive fare type on SRT. But at over 1500 baht per person it is still 450 baht cheaper than the cheapest airfare. Thus fills up quickly before each trip.
Hat Yai Junction (928.58 km) at 8am on Sunday 1st February 2009.
8. This is a general view of the main entrance to Hat Yai station. The small trucks in the foreground these are a taxi like mass transport service for central Hat Yai. The reason for the grand looking building at Hat Yai Station is that a railway hotel used to operate above the platforms. This hotel has been closed for decades.
9. This is a general view of the Hat Yai Junction rail yard. Taken from the southern end of the platforms. A number of now disused Krupp locos can be seen parked along with other wagons.
10. This is a shot of SRT Loco 4006. Taken while it was shunting wagons in the yard at Hat Yai Junction. Loco Type older style General Electric. Taken looking west across the yard near the footbridge.
11. This is another angle on SRT Loco 4006. Taken looking north from the track level. This type of loco is the oldest still in regular use by SRT.
12. This is a shot of SRT loco 4532. Taken as it was about to reverse at the southern end of Hat Yai rail yard. Loco Type newer style General Electric. Note the SRT track repair crew milling around near the loco.
13. This is an image of the loco refueling point outside the Hat Yai workshop. The fuel oil is provided by PTT a state run oil company.
14. This is a general view looking north towards the signal box. Various SRT and KTMB cargo wagons can be seen. Also like most SRT yards there is a lot of old junk around.
15. This is a shot of SRT loco 3104. Taken looking north from within the workshop area of the Hat Yai rail yard. Loco type Krupp. This loco and many like it are no longer used by SRT and are abandoned in rail yards.
16. This is a shot of SRT loco 4417. Taken looking back towards the platforms from the rail yard. This loco was shunting carriages for passenger trains later in the day. Loco type Ahlstrom.
17. This is an image of SRT loco 4030. Taken as it was shunting a single carriage on one of the platform roads at Hat Yai station. Loco type older style General Electric.
18. This is another angle on SRT loco 4030. Taken as it was powering past the track workers just outside Hat Yai station. The carriages where destined for a back siding of the rail yard.
19. This is a shot of 2 now abandoned Krupp locos waiting there fate in the workshop siding at Hat Yai. These locos where imported from Germany. The piles of old sleepers are from recent track refurbishments around the local area.
20. This is a shot of 2 older style General Electric locos waiting on a siding at the back of Hat Yai rail yard. Earlier these locos where out shunting carriages and wagons. Taken from the track level looking north towards the signal box.
21. This is a shot of 2 Ahlstrom locos in the platform roads at Hat Yai station. One loco is on its way for more fuel and the other is shunting yet more carriages.
22. This is another angle of the two Ahlstrom locos. Taken as they pulled along side each other to allow the drivers to exchange a document. Note the amount of other SRT staff walking around the locos and the track workers have a good rest on a rail of the main line.
23. This is a shot of SRT loco 4139. Taken as it was running past the southern end of the rail yard on its way to the workshops for more fuel. Loco type Ahlstrom.
24. This is another shot of SRT loco 4417. This time with a large number of passenger carriages. Taken as it powered past the southern end of the Hat Yai rail yard. Loco type Ahlstrom.
25. This is a shot of a disused Krupp loco sitting in the workshop sidings at Hat Yai. Taken looking north towards the signal box.
26. This is another angle of the two older style General Electric locos parked near the footbridge in the rail yard. Taken from the track looking back towards the signal box.
27. This is an image of the inside of the railway workshop south west of the platforms at Hat Yai. An Ahlstrom loco is resting in one of the inspection roads. Compared to other SRT railway workshops this one is in good order with minimal junk.
28. This is an image of a group of happy SRT workers having a smokers break just outside the workshop entrance. It is really nice to be welcome at a railway location like this rather than chased off as is common in western countries.
29. This is a shot of a group of old now unused Krupp locos. Some of the ones at the rear are in very bad shape looks like they have been in an accident or cut up for parts. These locos where once very common on SRT’s southern lines.
30. This is an inside shot of a shed containing a rail wheel grinder. It appears a loco drives onto this device and the machine regrinds its wheels so they are smooth and correctly round. It is regularly used as wagons full of metal filings are parked near by.
31. This is an image of the electric powered turntable at the back of the workshop at Hat Yai. It appears useable but is very rarely used today. Taken looking west from in the yard.
32. This is another angle on the electric powered turntable at Hat Yai Junction. The turntable is controlled from the small control box on the right side of the turntable bridge.
33. This is an image of the wheel grinder shed behind the workshop at Hat Yai. Note the amount of metal filings left to rust in old wagons near to this shed. Taken from the southern side of the workshop looking north.
34. This is a general view of the southern side of the rail workshop at Hat Yai Junction. Taken from the tracks looking north. Yet another abandoned Krupp loco can be seen to the right.
35. This is a shot of a rail crane used for major track work and accident recovery. Taken looking north east from the workshop yard. The rail crane is made by Hitachi of Japan. Note the amount of oil on the ground in this area.
36. This is another inside shot of the workshop shed at Hat Yai. Taken looking north from just inside the southern rail entrance. An Ahlstrom loco can be seen resting in the shed.
37. This is a shot of a workshop staff member having a smoke while working in the tool shop inside the workshop. Note the amount of junk inside this room.
38. This is a shot of SRT loco 4139. Taken as it was parked outside the northern entrance of the workshop shed at Hat Yai. Loco type Ahlstrom.
39. This is an image of SRT loco 4523 with a load of heavy steel bound for Malaysia. Taken from within the yard looking north east towards Hat Yai station. Loco type newer style General Electric.
40. This is a shot of a row of old covered cargo vans and passenger carriages at the very back road of Hat Yai rail yard. These cargo vans date back to when SRT was known as RSR in the 1950s. Note the amount of spare rails kept here.
As a result of all the bad luck and misfortune surrounding this trip to southern Thailand over 95% of the trip was not completed but was mostly pre booked from Bangkok.
The original plan of this Southern Thailand rail fan trip is outlined below:
Saturday 31st January 2009.
Depart Bangkok at 15.10 on Special Express 37 to Hat Yai. Distance 928.58 km.
Sunday 1st February 2009.
Arrive Hat Yai at 07.13 on Special Express 37.
Monday 2nd February 2009.
Depart Hat Yai at 06.30 Arrive Yala at 08.04 (Rapid 175) Distance 110.20 km.
Depart Yala at 09.59 Arrive Sungai Kolok at 12.08 (Ordinary 463) Distance 104 km.
Depart Sungai Kolok at 14.55 Arrive Hat Yai at 18.00 (Rapid 176).
Here is a shot of the actual booked ticket for the return from Sungai Kolok to Hat Yai. Note: this train is 3rd class only. Distance 214.41 km.
Tuesday 3rd February 2009.
Depart Hat Yai at 14.18 Arrive Thung Song Junction at 17.40 (Rapid 170).
Here is a shot of the actual booked ticket for the trip from Hat Yai to Thung Song Junction. The seating was 2nd class non aircon. Distance 171.50 km.
Wednesday 4th February 2009.
Depart Thung Song Junction at 08.41 Arrive Kantang at 11.05 (Rapid 167).
Depart Kantang at 12.40 Arrive Thung Song Junction at 15.00 (Rapid 168).
Here is a shot of the actual booked tickets for the trip from Thung Song Junction to Kantang. The seating was 2nd class non aircon. Distance 93 km.
Here is a shot of the actual booked tickets for the trip from Kantang to Thung Song Junction. The seating was 2nd class non aircon. Distance 93 km.
Friday 6th February 2009.
Depart Thung Song Junction at 08.16 Arrive Nakhon Si Thammarat at 09.35 (Rapid 173).
Depart Nakhon Si Thammarat at 15.00 Arrive Thung Song Junction at 16.08 (Express 86).
Depart Thung Song Junction at 21.32 on Special Express 38 in 2nd class aircon sleeper.
Here is a shot of the actual booked ticket for the trip from Thung Song Junction to Nakhon Si Thammarat. The seating was 2nd class non aircon. Distance 58.94 km.
Here is a shot of the actual booked ticket for the trip from Nakhon Si Thammarat to Thung Song Junction. The seating was 2nd class non aircon. Distance 58.94 km.
Here is a shot of the actual booked ticket for the trip from Thung Song Junction to Bangkok. The sleeper was 2nd class aircon. This is corridor style. I.e. no private cabins. Distance 757.08 km.
Saturday 7th February 2009.
Arrive Bangkok at 10.30 on Special Express 38. This was meant to be when the trip would have ended if everything had gone to plan.
At some point in the future I will travel back to Thung Song Junction and complete at least that part of the trip. But until I can get access to another camera this will be the last post for a while unfortunately after a year of interesting and enjoyable rail fan trips.
I will still regularly check the website and forum for comments regarding earlier topics. Also anyone can email me with information or questions about the content on this site via the link in my blogger profile at the top of every page.
Hopefully it will not be too long before I can get another digital camera to replace the one that was destroyed on this trip.
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- After living and working in Thailand for over 5 years in October 2010 I relocated from Mahachai Thailand to Melbourne Australia. I have a wide interest in railways, ferries, metros, trams, buses and mass transit system planning throughout Thailand and the Asian region.
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Saturday, February 07, 2009
Thai Mass Transport Topics List
- Welcome to the Thai Mass Transport Systems Blog
- The Buses of Rama 2 road
- The Buses of Wong Wian Yai
- SRT Mahachai Train runs with the doors wide open.
- A Trip from Wong Wian Yai to Bang Bon on the SRT Mahachai line.
- A Ride on Route 147 (Kanchana Phisek rd)
- A Ride on Route 146 (Kanchana Phisek rd)
- The New Southern Bus Terminal + Intercity buses.
- The Mass Transport Vehicles of Mahachai City.
- SRT: The Maeklong line and Maeklong railway market
- The Maeklong Bus Terminal
- The Modern Rail Based Mass Transit of Thailand
- The Modern Bus Based Mass Transport of Bangkok.
- The Mass Transport Boats of Bangkok (Chao Phraya Express)
- The Mass Transport Boats of Bangkok (Dao Khanong Klong Boat)
- The Mass Transport Boats of Bangkok (Klong Saen Saep Boat service)
- The Mass Transport Boats of Bangkok (Phra Khanong Klong Boat Service)
- SRT: The Mahachai line a trip from Bang Bon to Mahachai.
- SRT: The Mahachai Rail Yard.
- SRT: The Eastern Line and the construction of the Airport Rail Link.
- SRT: The Main System (Hualamphong Station and rail yard).
- SRT: A trip on the Ayutthaya Commuter Line (Main North line).
- The Buses of Suvarnabhumi Airport and Suvarnabhumi Bus Terminal.
- SRT: Prachuap Khiri Khan railway station and night shots.
- The Mass Transport of Prachuap Khiri Khan.
- A Summary Bus Guide to Bangkok’s Mass transport bus system.
- SRT: Thonburi Rail Yard + Thai Steam Engine Fleet.
- The Buses of Nakhon Pathom and Bus Route 402.
- SRT: The Thonburi to Nakhon Pathom Commuter Line.
- The Mega Mochit 2 Bus Terminal.
- Mochit 2: The Metro Bus Terminal.
- SRT: Bang Sue Junction and Station.
- The Main South line: Bang Sue to Taling Chan link.
- The Mass Transport of Samut Chedi and The Temple in the Sea.
- The Mass Transport of Kheha Thonburi + Vans of Rama 2.
- The Buses and Trucks of Paknam City
- The Mass Transport of Phra Pradaeng.
- Free BMTA Bus and SRT rail travel.
- SRT: The Queensland railways SX commuter carriages.
- A little extra BTS and SRT.
- The Bangkok BRT (Bus Rapid Transit System) and Buses of Thaphra.
- SRT Cargo Trains and Chachoengsao Junction (Eastern Line).
- SRT: Kaeng Khoi Junction night shots and movies.
- SRT: Hin Lap Station and Curve + Dong Phraya Yen Pass.
- Alternative Travel arrangements for Bangkok Airport Passengers.
- The Mega Victory Monument Metro Bus Terminal.
- The Eastern Bus Terminal.
- SRT: Cab Ride Mahachai Line: Bang Bon – Wong Wian Yai.
- The Buses of Rangsit.
- The Rangsit Metro Bus Terminal and Bus Depot.
- The Buses of Pathum Thani.
- SRT Northern Line: Paknam Pho Station and Yard.
- SRT: Kaeng Khoi Junction in the Daylight.
- SRT: Bua Yai Line and Chong Samran.
- The Buses of Saphan Taksin.
- The Buses of Sanam Luang and Tha Chang.
- The Buses of Nonthaburi.
- Chao Phraya Express Boats – The New Pak Kret Service.
- The Southern Line: Hat Yai Junction Station and Yard.
- The new BTS Extension to Wong Wian Yai.
- The Tha Din Daeng cross river ferry + Route 20 terminus.
- The Buses of Chinatown.
- The Eastern Line: Kabinburi and Prachantakam.
- SRT: Khok Salung and Pasak Chonlasit Dam.
- SRT: Southern line the second attempt.
- The state of the Mahachai Line and Bang Bon "Track Lake".
- The Mass Transit of Vientiane Laos.
- Udon Thani's Mass Transit System.
- Thai VIP Intercity Buses + Thai - Lao International Buses.
- The Mass Transit of Mukdahan.
- SRT: Hualamphong Station by Night + Overnight Trains.
- SRT Northern Line: Thailand's Highest and Longest – Khun Tan.
- The Bangkok Airport Rail Link: The fastest train in Thailand.
- SRT: Maeklong Line – Ban Bo Station.
- Bangkok BRT System: Chong Nonsi BTS (Sathorn) to Ratchapruek.
- SRT: Mahachai Line + Buses of Wong Wian Yai during morning peak.
- The new BTS extension from On Nut to Bearing.
- SRT Northern line: Steam Locomotives at Bang Pa In.