Extra train services will be scheduled to allow about 120,000 people per day to travel from Bangkok to their home provinces and back during the New Year holiday, State Railway of Thailand (SRT) deputy governor Tanongsak Pongprasert said on Tuesday.
Mr Tanongsak said there are currently 164 trains with third-class carriages providing free rides each day. During Dec 30-31 and Jan 2-4, 10 more trains will be put in service providing free travel on the Bangkok – Ubon Ratchathani, Bangkok – Udon Thani, and Bangkok – Sila-at lines.
In addition, 120 more carriages will be added to the 234 express and rapid trains currently in service, especially on the Bangkok – Chiang Mai route to the North, Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani in the Northeast, and Bangkok-Trang, Bangkok – Nakhon Si Thammarat and Bangkok – Hat Yai lines in the South.
The additional free-travel trains and extra carriages would enable the SRT to take about 120,000 passengers a day to their home provinces and back to Bangkok during the New Year period, said Mr Tanongsak.
More trains would be put into service if demand is higher than anticipated.
Mr Tanongsak said the SRT would also fix up the 3rd class trains providing free rides from next year, in response to complaints. Improvements would be made to toilets, seats and floors.
The SRT would ask Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to take a trial ride on an improved free train from Hua Lampong on Dec 21.
He said 24 used trains would be handed over to the SRT by Japan in March. The SRT would use some of them as tour coaches, taking tourists to popular destinations, and others as urban trains on commuter services between Bangkok and nearby provinces.
Mr Tanongsak said the SRT had generated revenue of 3.6 billion baht this year, a 16% increase from last year’s 3.1 billion baht. Next year’s target was to increase revenue by 8.5% to 3.9 billion baht.
Even so, the SRT’s overall annual loss would continue to be around 10 billion baht, he said.