Train derails on PR tour to tout repairs, rail chief on board

A Bangkok-Chiang Mai express service train that derailed in Phrae province, northern Thailand on July 17.  Many such frequent derailments led the State Railway of Thailand to close the northern line for many weeks of needed repairs. Photo: AFP


Well that’s embarrassing.

Although Trains frequently derail on Thailand’s decrepit rail system, the director of the monolithic state rail agency probably didn’t expect to go off the tracks during a trip to publicize safety improvements to the northern line.

Prapas Jongsanguan, governor of the State Railway of Thailand, was seated with members of the press in the third car of the Chiang Mai-bound train which left Bangkok on Sunday as part of a PR tour to spread word of the route’s reopening after weeks of much-needed repair to solve derailment problems which have plagued the tracks this past year.

The trip came up about 20 kilometers short of Chiang Mai’s railway station, derailing 100 meters before stopping at the station in Lamphun. No injuries were reported.

Reports from witnesses at the station fault a technician for switching tracks while the train was still passing over the junction, just as Prapas’ car was passing.

Prapas, refusing to talk to reporters and appearing agitated, continued on to Chiang Mai by car,

After the incident, Mr. Prapas and other officials traveled to their destination in Chiang Mai province by cars. He refused to answer questions from reporters, and appeared to be visibly distraught by the accident, Khaosod reported.

SRT is known for its poorly maintained and out of date infrastructure and its status as the worst financial performance of any governmental agency. Despite its large budgets and extensive real estate holdings, it operates at a loss of billions of baht each year. Officials recently announced they would hand over more than 100 acres of land for 100 years to help settle an THB80 billion debt to the treasury.


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