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Despite low riders, Covid-19 train to continue

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FILE PHOTO: The Covid Express will have more journeys scheduled.

Despite a rocky start, the special train service the Transport Ministry arranged with the State Railway of Thailand to help bring Covid-19 infected patients in Bangkok to their hometowns for treatment will continue. The train, dubbed the “Covid Express”, will schedule more trips from Bangkok to the North and Northeast provinces even though the first train ended up with less than 10% of the planned ridership.

The train scheme was created as Bangkok faces severe infection numbers and shortages of hospital beds and medical staff as a way to open up some space by sending interested patients home to where their friends and family may be. While Bangkok and other dark red zones are being overwhelmed with new infections and nowhere to house them, some provinces, especially in the North and Northeast have not experienced nearly the same spike in cases, and have plenty of available hospital beds for Covid-19 patients.

The plan arranged a special train that would transport Covid-19 patients that experienced mild or moderate symptoms to their home province on a voluntary basis. The first train was originally scheduled for Monday with 1,489 passengers travelling to Nakhon Ratchasima, Buri Ram, Surin, Si Sa Ket, and Ubon Ratchathani, but it was cancelled after officials discovered that day before that many of the planned passengers had travelled home on chartered buses, ambulances, and rescue vehicles already.

Still, a first train travelled yesterday morning, train 971, the Covid Express, with 137 Covid-19 patients aboard. The SRT and Transport Ministry are working in partnership with the National Health Security Office and the National Institute of Emergency Medicine to schedule more train trips for Covid-19 patients who prefer to go to their home province for treatment.

Riders on the Covid Express train have special arrangements made for health and safety precautions including being met by officials upon arriving at their destination and being transported to hospital facilities. Plans are in the works for more Covid-19 trains to the upper Northeast, North and heading South as well, though the next journey has not been announced or scheduled yet.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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