Thailand – Malaysia shuttle train resumes service after bombings

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) resumed train services between Thailand and Malaysia with the utmost security on Sunday after suspending the service for 28 days following two consecutive bombings that killed three people last month.

The SRT is running two round trips per day between Hat Yai in Songkhla province to Padang Besar in Malaysia’s Perlis state.

On December 3, freight train 707 travelling from Hat Yai to Padang Besar derailed and overturned in the Tha Pho subdistrict in the Sadao district after a bomb detonated on the tracks. The train’s four members of staff were not hurt but the train and tracks were heavily damaged.

Three days later, on December 6, three maintenance workers were killed and four were injured by another bomb blast while they were repairing the tracks from the first bombing.

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After repairing the tracks, the SRT resumed the shuttle service on New Year’s Day and deployed soldiers, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) officers, and police along the railway to watch out for any suspicious activity.

Being the only passenger route connecting Thailand to Malaysia and costing just 50 baht, the service is usually packed with both Thai and Malaysian tourists. However, all four services on Sunday were quiet, reports ThaiRath.

Security on the railway will be heightened for the next three months. Security will be provided by officials from the Anothai Infantry Regiment Task Force, Than Mook Border Patrol Camp, Songkhla Police Special Operation Centre, 5th Infantry Regiment task force, and by police officers from Klong Ngae, Sadao and Padang Besar police stations.

Two trains will run from Hat Yai Junction to Padang Besar at 7.30am (train 947) and 3.40pm (train 949).

From Malaysia to Thailand, two services will run at 8.55am (train 948) and 3.40pm (train 950).

The service resumed in July after being suspended in March 2020 as a Covid-19 prevention measure.

Taking just one hour and costing only 50 baht, or 7 Malaysian ringgits, the shuttle train is a convenient and cheap way to travel between Thailand and Malaysia. The route is regularly used by tourists in Thailand going on ‘visa runs.’

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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