“Sawadee Special” train from KL to Hat Yai for Malaysia Day

PHOTO: Riders on the Sawadee Special enjoy direct service from Kuala Lumpur to Hat Yai. (via KTM Berhad Facebook)

A new bridge and several new train routes have been scheduled to accommodate Malaysian tourists entering Thailand. In July, travellers from Malaysia trumped India to become the kingdom’s No.1 visitors according to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. The new routes and bridge will make travel much easier for Malaysians, and now the “Sawadee Special” train directly from Kuala Lumpur to the southern Thai hub of Hat Yai, is bringing the hospitality industry hope for more direct rail service.

The unique route was operated by KTM Bhd, the train operator of Malaysia, and was run as a special promotion to commemorate Malaysia Day, a public holiday in the country celebrated on September 16. The “Sawadee Special” ran a train of 12 cars on the 440-kilometre trek between Kuala Lumpur and Hat Yai, departing the Malaysian capital’s main train station, KL Sentral, at 10.10pm on Thursday, and arriving in the Songkhla city at 8.30am.

An official count varied, with the “Sawadee Special” train operator placing the number of passengers at 386 but Thai officials recording 402 arrivals in Hat Yai. Regardless, the vast majority of riders were tourists taking advantage of the long holiday weekend. Short trips into Thailand are popular amongst Malaysians, who can hop across the border to explore Hat Yai, Songkhla, and the surrounding southern provinces.

The custom schedule of the “Sawadee Special” brought people to Thailand on Thursday night and will return in time for work Monday, departing Hat Yai at 11.30am and arriving back in Kuala Lumpur just after midnight.

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The full train cars gave a welcome boost to local hotels, with the chairman of the Hat Yai Songkhla Hotels Association stating that hotels in the area have been fully booked through Sunday for the Malaysian three-day weekend, as well as a meeting of officials from the Ministry of Public Health that coincided with the holiday.

The chairman lauded the direct service without the inconvenience of hopping off a Malaysian train, crossing by foot at the Padang Besar border, and hopping on a Thai train the short distance to Hat Yai. He believes if the “Sawadee Special” became a regular service train, it would boost the local economy.

“This is a special train. If possible, we would like to see regular service. That would be good as it would give train passengers a convenient way to travel to Hat Yai.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Neill Fronde

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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