Express 949: Hat Yai Junction to Padang Besar by Shuttle Train

The Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train is a twice-daily return service running between Hat Yai, the largest town in the Songkhla Province of Southern Thailand and Padang Besar, the eastern Malaysia-Thailand border town. The Express 949 operates on a time-effective afternoon schedule departing Hat Yai at 1.05pm Thai Time (GMT+7), just after checking-out of your hotel and allowing a last Thai lunch before heading back to Malaysia.


This post is about the travel experience onboard the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train.

This is NOT the actual information page you are looking for.

Click here to visit the dedicated Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train information page.



Tickets for the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train are only sold on the day of departure. Get your tickets at the counters for immediate travel.



The dedicated 4-car BREL Class 158/T Sprinter DMU, ready for an on-time departure from Hat Yai Junction to Padang Besar.

As this journey was significantly more crowded than the Express 947 in the morning, there wasn’t any available seats left in the entire train.

Hence, even though I had to stand for the journey, I decided to stand where I would have gotten the best view of the journey.

As the Sprinter has a connecting door at the ends of the train should the need arise to add more cars to the train, that was where I stood for the journey with the best view* possible.

*Of course the best view at the front of the train, but that wouldn’t be possible with the driver driving it.

The Special Express DRC 41 bound for Yala.


Exiting Hat Yai Junction Railway Station with the view of disused Krupp locomotives in a siding.


Heading off towards Khlong Ngae.


Making a short stop at Khlong Ngae.



Departing Khlong Ngae, on the way to Padang Besar (Thai).



Making a short stop at Padang Besar (Thai).



Entering the electrified sector of Thailand.

Wait, what?

A short section of approximately 280 meters just after the Malaysia-Thailand border of Padang Besar lies the State Railway of Thailand’s only electrified sector in the whole of Thailand.

This line is part of the Ipoh – Padang Besar Electrified Double Track Project undertaken in Malaysia. Even before this project came about, as the last northern point of Padang Besar station is just at the national border itself, locomotives running around will have to enter this main line “headshunt” in Thailand and take another track in Malaysia to to loop back to the other end of the train. This “overrun” into Thailand is possibly planned to allow electric trains to enter this short section of track to change lines at Padang Besar station, just as the locomotives have done. This also allows the overhead lines to taper into a single file before ending the line.

However, as the ETS or Komuter trains have driving cabs on each end, they have never entered Thailand before. While I’m not sure about the EL Class locomotives, if an electric train ever uses this section of track, it can technically be said that there are electrified trains running on the meter-gauge State Railway of Thailand tracks.


Passing by the old Padang Besar (Thailand) platforms, which was never on train schedules till the Padang Besar (Thai) Railway Station was completed.

Passing through the border of Thailand and Malaysia.


Entering Platform 2 of Padang Besar Railway Station.


Arrived at Padang Besar Railway Station.

Padang Besar Railway Station’s platforms are all at train level (ie. high platforms). If you are disembarking from the front-most or rear-most doors, you can hop over to the platform easily with a platform gap of just about 30cm.


Disembark easily from the Sprinter at Padang Besar.

If you are disembarking from all other doors, there is a big platform gap of about 75cm.

If you aren’t confident to hop over the 75cm-wide platform gap, take one step down first and then take another step up the platform.


Still disembarking somewhat easily from the Sprinter at Padang Besar.

Most importantly, keep in mind the ever-popular British announcement when you are on board the Sprinter.

“Mind the gap.”

Once off the train, queue up to clear Thailand and Malaysia immigration and customs.



If you are at the end of the line, expect to queue for an hour when on a fully-loaded train. Once done, you can head upstairs to get tickets for ETS and Komuter trains for your onward journey within Malaysia.


This post is about the travel experience onboard the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train.

This is NOT the actual information page you are looking for.

Click here to visit the dedicated Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train information page.

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Express 948: Padang Besar to Hat Yai Junction by Shuttle Train

The Express 948 Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train is a very popular mode of transport between the Malaysia border town of Padang Besar to Hat Yai, the largest city of Songkhla Province, Thailand, departing in the morning at 9.55am Malaysia Time (GMT+8), connecting from ETS and Komuter services with morning arrivals at Padang Besar.


This post is about the travel experience onboard the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train.

This is NOT the actual information page you are looking for.

Click here to visit the dedicated Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train information page.


If you are travelling from Padang Besar, Malaysia…

Padang Besar Railway Station serves the Malaysian Town of Padang Besar on the border of Thailand and Malaysia, the neighbour of the Thai town of the same namesake. This new station is the gateway to Thailand with the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train connecting passengers from train services in Malaysia to Hat Yai, the biggest town in Songkhla province in Thailand.


The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) office opens at 9.00am for ticket sales on the Express 948 to Hat Yai. The office is located at Padang Besar station’s Platform 2, on the side which is closer to the north (ie. Thailand).


The counter to purchase tickets is located within the SRT office, on a dedicated side desk.

Tickets for the air-conditioned Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train cost 70 Baht.

The counter will provide you with the Thai immigration form as well. Fill this up and then head for Malaysian and Thai immigration.

Once cleared on both sides, board the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train waiting at the platform.


If you are travelling from Padang Besar, Thailand…

Padang Besar (Thai) Railway Station serves the Thai Town of Padang Besar on the border of Thailand and Malaysia, the neighbour of the Malaysian town of the same namesake. Despite the railway running through the town ever since it was built, the Padang Besar (Thai) Railway Station was only built 2 years ago. This new station opens up a new travel option for those living here to get to Hat Yai via the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train, with the previous option being only buses and vans, or getting the train to the Malaysian Padang Besar town and then walking back into Thailand.


You can get your tickets for the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train at the ticket counter here. Tickets for the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train are only sold on the day of departure, and for journeys originating at Padang Besar (Thai) only.

The timetable for trains serving Padang Besar (Thai) Railway Station. Two pairs of Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Trains ply the line daily, with the long distance International Express running between Padang Besar in Malaysia and Bangkok once daily.

My ticket from Padang Besar (Thai) to Hat Yai Junction. Tickets for this air-conditioned Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train cost 70 Baht.

The 4-car BREL Class 158/T Sprinter DMU serving the Express 948 entering back into Thailand from Malaysia.


The Sprinter at Padang Besar (Thai) Railway Station, bound for Hat Yai Junction.


The typical scenery on the way to Khlong Ngae and Hat Yai Junction.




Along the way, the in-train salesman, Jai (or Ah Chai), will come along with dtac Happy Tourist SIM Cards for purchase. While they typically cost 299 Baht when purchased directly from dtac or other resellers, Jai sells these dtac Happy Tourist SIM Cards at a special price of only 260 Baht. Jai will also happily configure your phone settings for you and makes sure you have your internet before moving on to the next customer. HINT: Further discounts may be given if you are purchasing these SIM cards in a group when you speak politely to Jai and flash him your biggest smile.

The dtac Happy Tourist SIM Card entitles you to 8 days of unlimited 3G/4G Internet (speed will be throttled after 2.5 GB of usage), free 100 Baht worth of call credit and a special international call rate via 00400. The 100 Baht credit can also be used to buy more 3G/4G Internet when you download the dtac app.

This is a hassle-free at-seat SIM card purchasing service which I think offers the most convenient way to buy a SIM card in Thailand. In my opinion, the dtac Happy Tourist SIM Card is especially useful and offers one of the best value when you are spending 3 to 8 days in Thailand. It is also, in my opinion, the most reliable telco along the railway lines in Thailand. RailTravel Station does not receive any form of commission from this recommendation.

Approaching Hat Yai Junction Railway Station.


Disembarking from the Express 948 at Hat Yai Junction.

The Express 948 offers a time-effective connection from ETS and Komuter services with morning arrivals at Padang Besar, getting you into Hat Yai just in time for lunch and thereafter check-in in your hotel.

As the sole train departure from Padang Besar in the morning, it is undoubtedly a very popular train service, and thus can get crowded as well. But fret not as the train will wait for all passengers to purchase tickets and clear immigration before departing from Padang Besar, even if it means being delayed.

Try out the Express 948 the next time you visit Hat Yai from Malaysia!


This post is about the travel experience onboard the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train.

This is NOT the actual information page you are looking for.

Click here to visit the dedicated Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train information page.

 

Express 947: Hat Yai Junction to Padang Besar (Thai) by Shuttle Train

The Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train is a twice-daily return service running between Hat Yai, the largest town in the Songkhla Province of Southern Thailand and Padang Besar, the eastern Malaysia-Thailand border town. While trains used to run with a dedicated 2-car Daewoo DMU and thereafter swapped for a Bogie Third Class rake on peak days to keep up with growing demand, in late January 2018, a dedicated 4-car BREL Class 158/T Sprinter DMU was assigned to ply this route daily, doubling the capacity of the 2-car Daewoo DMU.


This post is about the travel experience onboard the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train.

This is NOT the actual information page you are looking for.

Click here to visit the dedicated Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train information page.


The entrance to Hat Yai Junction Railway Station is on the right side of the facade of the station, at the zebra crossing.

Before entering the station, you have to pass your bags through the x-ray machine.

Tickets for the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train are only sold on the day of departure. Get your tickets at the counters for immediate travel.

Tickets for this air-conditioned journey from Hat Yai to Padang Besar cost 70 Baht (~S$2.94/~RM8.75).

With the early arrival of my flight from Singapore, I had ample time to spot the Sprinter at its new home. Here’s the train leaving the depot, shunting itself to the platform.

The Sprinter pulling into Hat Yai Junction Railway Station. Feels really British with the engine and horn sounds, and approaching a station with the word “Junction” in its name. Feels like I was back on the train lines around Sheffield for a moment.


Passengers heading to board the Sprinter to Padang Besar.


The Sprinter, fresh from the depot, ready for its first morning duty to Padang Besar.



The steps up the Sprinter.


Even the door to the main cabin feels distinctively British.




The interior of each of the cars on this 4-car DMU set.

The car number plate above the doors also has the original British font and layout.

There are no vestibules at the gangway, so be careful when crossing over to the next coach when the train is moving.

Getting ready to depart Hat Yai Junction.


The very typically British WC sign on board. The lights for the word “engaged” lights up when the doors to the toilet are locked.


Departing Hat Yai Junction.

The typical scenery from the train on the way to Khlong Ngae.



Approaching Khlong Ngae Railway Station.


The train makes a brief stop of about one minute before continuing on to Padang Besar (Thai).




Arrived at Padang Besar (Thai) Railway Station.


A vent cover still in the original livery.

Once the line is clear on the Malaysian Padang Besar side, the train departs.

British train entering the Malaysian sector of (sort of) British signalling.


The BREL Class 158/T Sprinter DMU is now a permanent fixture on the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train, offering a more comfortable and consistent ride between Malaysia and Thailand. It is also a rare opportunity to board one as the only other service with regular runs with the Sprinter is on the Special Express 3 and 4, plying the Bangkok – Sawan Khalok – Sila At – Bangkok route. Look out for it the next time you are heading to Hat Yai!


This post is about the travel experience onboard the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train.

This is NOT the actual information page you are looking for.

Click here to visit the dedicated Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train information page.

Scoot TR632: Singapore to Hat Yai by Airbus A320-200

My purpose of visiting Hat Yai this time was to ride on the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train with the 4-car Sprinter train set supposedly to run the service from 31 January 2018 (It got switched out about a week earlier than scheduled.), and opted to head there on the first weekend of operations (which turned out to be the second). With Scoot’s TR632 departure timing from Singapore at 6.10am and arriving into Hat Yai at 6.45am (both at local times), it was the perfect flight for me to get the connection to the first Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train in the morning to update RailTravel Station.

This is also my first A320 flight with Scoot ever since Scoot and Tigerair merged on 25 July 2017.

Changi Airport Terminal 2 has the last remaining Solari boards (those flippy letters thingy) still installed at the Departure Hall, with the rest in Terminal 1 replaced with multiple TV screens around the airport during the renovations years ago.

Check-in for all Scoot flights is at Rows 10 and 11.


I opted not to do my web check-in this time to see if I can chose my seats for free at the FAST check-in kiosks.

Let’s start.

Good evening* to you too.

*Since my flight was at 6.10am and I didn’t want to wake up at 3am to get a taxi to the airport by 4am, I decided to get public transport to Changi Airport the night before and overnight inside the terminal again.

What? That was fast. And my seat is assigned automatically too, tapping on the seat icon or anywhere around the screen except for the “Next” button had no response as well.

I checked with a roving staff, and she mentioned that if I would like to change my seat, I have to take my boarding pass to the payment counter where it can be changed for a fee. Meh, no thanks.


My flimsy receipt-like boarding pass being printed out of the kiosk.

With no bags to check-in and my details satisfactorily verified, I needn’t get my boarding pass verified with a stamp and can head straight for departure immigration and the comforts of the Departure Transit Mall.

Bye Singapore!

I headed over to the SATS Premier Lounge 1 in Terminal 1 to spend my night.

After the lounge visit and breakfast was done, it’s time to head over to my gate. I was buzzed by the iChangi app when I woke up that my flight was retimed 15 minutes earlier to 5.55am, so it was a quick breakfast and a brisk walk to my gate. Luckily, Gate E24 in Terminal 2 was a walking distance from Terminal 1 and no Skytrain ride was necessary.

Entering the boundaries of Terminal 2 with this old school sign still standing.

My boarding pass for this trip, with the stamp given by the security people just before entering the immigration area earlier this morning.


My retimed TR632 now departing 15 minutes earlier at 5.55am.

While the sign said “Boarding”, it wasn’t until about 3 minutes later before boarding actually commenced. As Gate E24 is a Multiple Aircraft Receiving Stand (MARS), boarding pass verification is done just only before boarding the aircraft.

With no response for passengers on the premium rows or BoardMeFirst, the staff announced for all remaining passengers to board the aircraft. Seems like a light load today.

9V-TAQ “Shiok Lah!” in the new Scoot colour scheme, ready for my flight to Hat Yai. As with the existing Boeing 787 Dreamliners, the repainted Scoot A320s (also known as #A320baes) from Tigerair are christened with their own individual name as well.

One of the last passengers to board the aircraft, with almost no one in front of me.


Wow, look at that space.

As a group of aunties decided to sprawl around the back of the aircraft already, taking up my assigned 29F seat, I happily abandoned my assigned seat and placed myself in an empty row instead.

Pushing back from the terminal.

The cabin lights were dimmed during taxi.

The legroom available on the Scoot A320. Not as generous as the Boeing 787s, but sufficient for a short flight of about an hour I guess. Wouldn’t want to be in this for a longer flight, say to Hong Kong or Taipei.

The strange strong presence of Silkair (and 1 Scoot) at Terminal 4.

After take-off, immigration cards for Thailand were handed out. This is a new design, probably launched this year.



The washroom on board the Scoot A320, with lots of tissues available.

The sunrise while flying over Kelantan, Malaysia.

Since I couldn’t really sleep with the limited recline (compared with the 787), I browsed through the February issue of the Scoot magazine instead.

Spent most of my time on this article on the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) and Bangkok’s grand Hua Lamphong station.

On approach to Hat Yai.

Safely arrived at Hat Yai International Airport with the windows suddenly misting up. Must be pretty humid outside.

TR632 landed at 6.05am – a whole 40 minutes earlier than scheduled. It was as if Scoot knew that I had a tight connection to the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train and decided to fly me in earlier. Whoever said that budget airlines were always delayed from schedule?

And as with old people on flights, everyone stood up excitedly to exit the aircraft the moment it stopped. I decided to wait for like half a minute for the aircraft to clear before disembarking.

Heading downstairs for Thailand immigration.

Once done with immigration and retrieving your bags (if any), head outside to the public area of the airport terminal. However, head straight to exit the terminal and do not turn right like I did, which led nowhere out of the terminal. Did manage to use the washroom though.

The exit is straight ahead and a left turn later, following the signs.

The taxi stand is located outside.


There are two taxi counters available, however only one was in operation at 6.30 in the morning.

The taxi counters are located just outside the exit doors.

The ready taxis waiting for you.

The taxi driver requested for 250 Baht (~S$10.50) to get to the railway station. Since it was the stated price on the counter, was in a rush anyway to figure out the Songthaew or Tuk-Tuk system from the airport, and quite affordable for a 20-minute taxi ride from the airport (S$10.50 might be the metered fare the moment the taxi driver switches on the meter at Changi Airport during peak hours, and in Bangkok it’s about 400 Baht to the city), I agreed immediately and went off to go catch the Sprinter on the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train. He did offer me a rate of 800 Baht to get to Padang Besar directly though, which I politely refused since the train is the attraction for me.

Overall, the Scoot flight to Hat Yai was affordable, hassle-free and surprisingly landed way earlier than scheduled. I paid S$46.08 for this one-way flight which makes it $3.92 cheaper and way lot faster than getting a 12- to 14-hour long bus ride from Golden Mile at 7pm the night before.

If I can get the same great fares again, this would be my top choice to get into Hat Yai from Singapore.

Express 947 Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train: Hat Yai Junction to Padang Besar by Train

After arriving from the Thaksinarath from Bangkok, I had slightly more than an hour to go before the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train departs at 7.30am.


This post is about the travel experience onboard the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train.

This is NOT the actual information page you are looking for.

Click here to visit the dedicated Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train information page.


Hat Yai is the biggest town in southern Thailand that is closest to Malaysia. It is slightly less than an hour away by train to Padang Besar, and SRT offers two pairs of shuttle trains daily.

Tickets for the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train are only sold on the day of departure, so queue at the counters for immediate travel to purchase your ticket.


Tickets usually costs 80 baht when travelling with the Daewoo DMU, but as the rake is swapped with a non-airconditioned third class rake, the air-conditioning fee and second class fee is waived for this journey, saving me 30 baht. No complains at all, in fact I’d prefer a non-airconditioned train.

The Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train departed from Platform 3 on the day of my journey.


The Alsthom locomotive coupling to my rake to form the train to Padang Besar.



Express 947 from Hat Yai Junction to Padang Besar is ready for departure.



The train is made up of 3 coaches of Bogie Third Class coaches, probably to cater to the large crowd heading up to Hat Yai on a Saturday.

I sat in the high-capacity Third Class coach on the bench for 3 people so I have 6 seats to sprawl out for my bags and myself.

Departing Hat Yai Junction.


Heading right to Padang Besar, branching off the line to Sungai Golok.




The typical scenery when travelling south to Padang Besar.

Crossing Phet Kasem Road or Thailand Route 4 before arriving at Khlong Ngae Railway Station.



Arrived and departed Khlong Ngae Railway Station almost immediately as there were no passengers boarding or alighting here.



Arriving at Padang Besar (Thai) Railway Station.

If you are heading to Malaysia, do NOT alight here. There are two border stations and the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train will get you across to Padang Besar Railway Station in Malaysia.

Entering the electrified sector.

Passing through the old Padang Besar (Thai) Railway Station.

The rickety border gate.

Hello Malaysia.


Arriving at Padang Besar Railway Station.


The Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train arrived at Padang Besar at 9.19am, 6 minutes ahead of schedule.

A quick run-around of the locmotive later, and the Express 948 is formed for the return trip back to Hat Yai Junction.

Here’s probably the cause of the downgrade to third class coaches – there are too many passengers for them to fit into the 2-car Daewoo DMU. Despite the train already being half-full, these passengers are still queuing for immigration into Thailand.

Needless to say, the Express 948 to Hat Yai Junction was delayed.

This also means that you need not worry if there are too many people buying tickets on the day of your departure as SRT will cater for enough space for you and will not depart the train while you are still queuing for immigration – so don’t fret.


The train conductor of the Express 948 telling passengers to move in to the centre of the car.

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From this platform, I waited for the KTM Komuter Northern Sector to continue on my journey towards Butterworth.


This post is about the travel experience onboard the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train.

This is NOT the actual information page you are looking for.

Click here to visit the dedicated Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train information page.

 

Special Express 31 Thaksinarath: Bangkok Hua Lamphong to Hat Yai Junction by the Best Train in Thailand

The new flagship trains of the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) were launched in 2016, running throughout the Northern, Northeastern and Southern Lines in Thailand. The order of 115 new coaches from CRRC Changchun forming 9 train sets is SRT’s largest single order for new additional passenger coaches. The new coaches are also a platform for SRT to create a new image of service, add more facilities to trains and focus on Thai-style service and dressing.

The new CRRC coaches run on 4 main routes daily, namely, the Bangkok – Hat Yai “Thaksinarath“, the Bangkok – Chiang Mai “Uttrawithi“, the Bangkok – Nong Khai “Isan Mankha” and the Bangkok – Ubon Ratchathani “Isan Wattana“, with new service names which were personally given by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.

After more than a year since the launch due to my own schedule conflicting with ticket availability as tickets do sell out 2 months in advance – almost immediately after opening for sale, I finally got to try the Thaksinarath running from Bangkok to Hat Yai. With this trip, I learnt that the service standards on the new First Class coaches were actually more premium than advertised.

The Special Express 31 Thaksinarath departs from Bangkok Hua Lamphong Railway Station at 2.45pm. Having a First Class ticket entitles you to a simple lounge visit if you would like to rest before your train departure.

I departed from Bangkok with the Thaksinarath on a very special day in Thailand on 13 October 2017, the one-year anniversary of the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The platform had an artwork dedicated to him, Rama IX, the ninth monarch of Thailand from the Chakri dynasty.


The Thaksinarath is ready for her passengers at Platform 4, more than an hour before the time of departure.

My ticket on the Thaksinarath to Hat Yai, with a supplement for single occupancy.


Heading the Thaksinarath and other trains operating with the new CRRC coaches is the Hitachi locomotive in the new livery. This new livery was given to match the new image of the CRRC coaches, and she certainly looks smart and modern despite it being 24 years old.

Compartment 19/20 is my moving hotel for the night en route from Bangkok to Hat Yai.



Welcome aboard the Thaksinarath.


The First Class compartment is sufficiently spacious with ample luggage storage and a generous amount of legroom for the day setting.

Each berth comes with a power socket and reading light. In the day setting, only the one on the lower berth is used.


In the day setting, the screen on the lower berth is used for entertainment and food orders. The screen also tells you if the washrooms or shower are available for use in real time.

A USB port is also available with the controls for the screen to charge your phone.

The channel guide for the entertainment screen is provided in the compartment. Also, you can get the WiFi password “TESTTEST” at the bottom of the channel guide.

An additional screen is also available on the upper berth.

An attendant is available throughout the train journey. To call him or her, press to bell button beside the compartment door.

A light above your door lights up which will let the attendant know which compartment he or she should serve once he or she receives the notification within the attendant’s room.

With the door shut, you will also have the option to keep it locked. A peephole is available to check on your visitor, if any, and also the best evacuation route in case of an emergency.

Shortly before departure, the attendant comes around to provide all passengers with complimentary drinking water for the journey.

Sanitized glasses are also given out directly to you instead of displaying them first in the compartment, ensuring that you actually physically see a clean, sanitized glass before accepting it.

Now, for a walk around the coach to see the shared amenities available.


The most important feature in the new First Class coach would be the presence of a hot shower. Nothing to get you more comfortable than this whether you are en route or about to go to bed.

Soap is provided in the shower cubicle.

A modern Panasonic water heater is provided for a hot shower. While the shower head is positioned slightly low, it’s probably for good reason and you won’t want to spray the water all over your clothes hung on the hook above.

If you wish to use your own toiletries, a soap dish is also available.

A new addition for trains in Thailand would be a gents’ washroom cubicle consisting of only a urinal and a sink.

And of course, two mixed gender washroom cubicles are also available.

It is worthwhile to note that the toilets on the new CRRC coaches have waste tanks on board as compared to the “natural flushing” on the existing DMUs and coaches.

On journeys out of Bangkok, you can also watch the journey go by when you are waiting for your turn at the washrooms or shower.

A sneak peek into the attendant’s room.


Each First Class compartment also feature connecting rooms should you be travelling with a group of 3 or 4. A lock bar is available at each side of the connecting door, ensuring that only with both bars lifted, can the connecting door be opened.



The spacious 4-person compartment with the connecting door opened.

Shortly after departure, the train conductor and attendant comes around to welcome you on board and to check your ticket.

My checked ticket with the hole punch on top.



The attendant then provides me with the headset to be used on the entertainment system, and a personal commentary in English on the various functions available in the compartment and coach, including how to adjust the aircon flow.

He then salutes me to thank me for choosing SRT for my journey and that he is at my service today throughout my journey.

Truly first-class Thai-style hospitality.



A short stop at Sam Sen to pick up some more passengers, including a family in First Class. My attendant also helps them with their bags while ushering them to their compartment.

As compared with the doors on the older coaches, the ones on the CRRC coaches closes automatically in sync with the whole train, without the need for each attendant to press the button on each door.

The steps also can be folded up at the gangway level to provide a wider aisle space and also future-proofs the train for high-level platforms at Bang Sue Central.

Don’t stick your hand there.



The temperature is set at a cool 22 degrees.

Looking at Bang Sue Central, the future modern home for all trains.

After departure from Bang Sue, the attendant comes round again to provide towels for each passenger for the shower.

Passing by Bang Sue Locomotive Depot.

Branching off to the Southern Line after Bang Sue Junction.


Bang Son Purple Line and Red Line station.



Crossing the Rama VI Bridge.

Time to try out the food ordering system.


Scroll through the menu to see what you like.

Once you’re done, tap “Submit” and you’ll receive the message “Your order is being processed, please wait.”.

Once your order is picked up by the crew in the restaurant car, you will see the message “The order is finished.”.

The waitress comes by with your food shortly after that, and you can pay her in cash.

My late lunch of Green Curry Fried Rice and Pinky Milk.



For microwaved food, the Green Curry Fried Rice with Egg actually tastes pretty good, though honestly I still prefer the freshly cooked ones on board the old trains. 59 baht per pack.

The Pinky Milk tastes a lot like strawberry milk. 45 baht per cup.

The branch line to Suphan Buri splitting off from the mainline.

The branch line to Kanchanaburi and Nam Tok splitting off from the mainline.

With a slightly longer stop of 5 minutes at Ratchaburi, the Kway Teow sellers are out in full force as usual, except that they can’t come on board this new train anymore. Nevertheless, the passengers crowd the door to buy a box off them. You can’t miss having at least one box when you pass by Ratchaburi, seriously.

The stallholders whipping up another batch for the next train.


And the familiar taste of Ratchaburi Kway Teow back on board the train. 10 baht per box.



Speeding along south away from Bangkok.



If you are like me, you can also track the train’s position on the map and view the upcoming timetable updated in real time as the train travels along, depending on the speed and length of stop at station.


For dinner, I decided to walk to the restaurant car to order directly and have a look instead of using the ordering system in my compartment.

For Muslim travellers, these four items are Halal-certified. For mains, the restaurant car offers a Red Curry Chicken with Rice and Basil Chicken with Rice. 2 options of Wanton Soups are also available, with a clear base or a Tom Yum base.

These are not featured on the touch-screen ordering system though.

On recommendation by the waitress, I decided to order an Iced Mocha. All coffee drinks are made by the coffee machine behind the counter.

If you want some OTOP products, tidbits or somehow prefer instant noodles instead of the wide range of mains on board (what’s wrong with you?), you can also pick them up here.

The diners in the restaurant car. Most would come from Second Class as there is no touch-screen ordering system there. There will be a round or two where the waitress would walk the length of the train to take orders though.

A walk through Second Class where most berths have been converted for the night.

Since I was still a little full from the late lunch, I went for a Pork Salapao (Pau) and Pork Khanom Jeeb (Siew Mai) instead. This is truly “Dim Sum pun ada” without any shoutouts, unlike a certain other company with advertisements all around but almost no actual product.

The Khanom Jeeb was good – tender and flavorful, but the Salapao was somehow a little crusty on the bottom. Some parts even came off with the paper base.

Departing the famous Hua Hin Railway Station.

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And time to call it a night.


The attendant dashed out of his compartment almost immediately after I pressed the call button. I know because I pressed it while peeping out of the door.

Like other Thai night trains, he fixed my bed for the night with such efficiency that even machines, if any, wouldn’t be able to catch up or be as accurate when grabbing new stuff to be placed on the bed.





The bed sheet was even pulled by itself as the mattress folded out to its final form without any additional adjustments after it has set.

A final touch with the placing of the pillow, my attendant saluted me again, wishing me “good night” and “enjoy your sleep”.

My attendant’s masterpiece.

The packed blanket is also provided individually to ensure hygiene, as per the existing night train arrangements.

As I was travelling with a single occupancy, the upper berth was not folded or laid out, but here’s how the compartment would look like if it was twin-sharing.

There are fold out steps on the side, with a very CRRC look like the ones in China.

Be careful not to kick the call button when climbing up though, or the attendant may come running out again.


Amazing Luxury on rails.

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As with all night trains in Thailand, I always rest well in the night, and this trip was definitely not an exception. I woke up just slightly before the attendant’s wake-up call announcement about half an hour prior to arrival in Hat Yai.

Am I seeing this right? This will be an early arrival into Hat Yai of 16 minutes.



Entering Hat Yai Junction Railway Station.

The Thaksinarath’s actual stop in Hat Yai Junction was at 6.18am, but the system registered it the second it crossed to the 6.19am mark. With a scheduled arrival of 6.35am, the Thaksinarath arrived 17 minutes early into Hat Yai Junction.

Goodbye moving hotel for the night, you were truly First Class.

Disembarking from the train.

A final goodbye salute from my attendant later, and the First Class experience on the Thaksinarath is concluded.


The Thaksinarath is the longest route among all four services served by the new CRRC coaches, and offers the best all-rounded experience as you get to experience both the day and night in a single journey.

While it is not touted as such, this is in my opinion the best train service in Thailand, perhaps even comparable to the Eastern and Oriental Express with the excellent English my attendant spoke, service attitude throughout the experience from station staff when buying my ticket 2 months ago, security guard at the First Class lounge in Bangkok, on-board facilities available, and of course you can be yourself without a strict dress code unlike on board the E&O.

It may be very slightly more expensive than the existing First Class Daewoo coaches, but the additional 100 baht (≈S$4.10) difference, it is certainly worth it. For a price of THB 2,594 (≈S$106.56) for single occupancy and THB 3,388 (≈S$139.18) for two in a compartment, it is certainly the best way to travel around Thailand.

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From here, I continued onwards to Malaysia via the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train.


Booking Methods

  • SRT counters
  • Online from 12Go Asia (joint ticketing with connecting trains available)

Tickets are open for sale 60 days before departure.

How do I book tickets online?

Click here for a step-by-step guide for 12Go Asia.

State Railway of Thailand 115 New CRRC Changchun Coaches: A Preview

SP EXP 32 Hua Lamphong 01

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) launched its flagship trains in 2016, offering new levels of comfort on all mainline routes. A total of 115 coaches from CRRC Changchun were ordered, forming 9 rakes inclusive of 8 in regular usage and 1 spare. The new coaches are also a platform for SRT to create a new image of service, add more facilities to trains and focus on Thai-style service and dressing.

The new CRRC coaches run on 4 main routes daily, namely, the Bangkok – Hat Yai “Thaksinarath“, the Bangkok – Chiang Mai “Uttrawithi“, the Bangkok – Nong Khai “Isan Mankha” and the Bangkok – Ubon Ratchathani “Isan Wattana“.


Air-Conditioned First Class Day & Night Coach (ANFCN)

  • Twin-sharing cabins with convertible seat and mattress
  • Reading Light
  • Individual 220 Volt Power Socket
  • LED Touch Screen Entertainment and Food Ordering System
  • Closed-Circuit Television System
  • Individual Sink in Cabin
  • Toilet
  • Urinal Room
  • Shower Room

There is a single First Class coach on this train with 12 twin-sharing compartments.

In the day, the compartment is formed of two seats on the lower mattress, with an optional fold-out side table.

Within the compartment, there is ample luggage storage space if you remove the pillows, with an additional recess by the top berth on top of the main entrance door.


A small sink is also available in the compartment. The doors between certain compartments can also be opened to cater to groups of 4.


Air-Conditioned Second Class Day & Night Coach (ANSCN)

  • Convertible seat and mattress
  • Reading Light
  • Individual 220 Volt Power Socket
  • Information Monitor
  • Closed-Circuit Television System
  • Toilet
  • Urinal Room
  • Wash Basin Area

There are a total of 10 ANSCN coaches on each train, including one which is wheelchair-accessible. Each coach consists of 40 seats, converting into 20 lower berths and 20 upper berths at night, with the exception of the wheelchair-accessible coach with a capacity of 36 passengers.

In the day configuration, each bay is formed of 2 facing seats.


The upper berths are folded up for better air flow.

An information screen is provided along the aisle with regards to the train’s current status.

For gentlemen, there is a urinal-only room.

For both genders, there are also western-style toilets. As compared to previous coaches, there is no squat-type toilets and all of them operate with a vacuum system.

As a nod to both Thai and Chinese-style coaches, a wash basin area is also provided.

To open the gangway doors, simply touch on the door button.


The gangway is also easier to walk on with luggage as the whole rake is permanently coupled, allowing for a closed gangway.

The wheelchair-accessible Second Class coach is easily found with the bold maroon livery on the door and the wheelchair symbol.

Air-Conditioned Second Class Day & Night Coach with Handicap Facility (ANSHC)

  • Convertible seat and mattress
  • Reading Light
  • Individual 220 Volt Power Socket
  • Information Monitor
  • Closed-Circuit Television System
  • Toilet
  • Urinal Room
  • Wash Basin Area
  • 2 Special Berths with Handicap Facilities

After pushing the passenger-in-wheelchair to the seat, the wheelchair may be stored on the dedicated racks.


A bigger wheelchair-accessible toilet is also found on this coach.

The configuration of this coach has been partially set to night mode by the attendant as there was already a passenger in wheelchair on board.


The seats on the unconverted lower berth with a lower headroom.


Similar to existing coaches, there is no view on the upper berth .

Each berth comes with its own individual reading light and power socket.

To ascend up to the upper berth, use the fold-out steps.




The information screen rotates between the train’s timetable and geographical position.

The dedicated wheelchair lift folds in compactly by the train doors.

Air-Conditioned Restaurant Car (ARCCN)

  • Seating Area for 32 Passengers
  • Closed-Circuit Television System
  • LED Display showing Food and Beverages
  • Bar Counter
  • Coffee Machine
  • Kitchen
  • Free WiFi


Should you prefer to dine in the restaurant car instead of having meals delivered to your seat, or miss out on ordering when the catering staff comes around, there are 8 tables available to dine in at.


There is a counter for you to order your food and fresh coffee.

The drinks menu on board. Click here to view the full-sized image.

Coffee is freshly prepared with this coffee machine.

If you prefer to be unadventurous, you can also opt for Coke and Sprite.



Free WiFi is also available in the restaurant car.


A separate area as a standing bar or wheelchair-accessible area is also available.


Train Consist

115set-cnr-all
Image source: State Railway of Thailand

Timetable from SRT’s website

Please search here.

Fares

Please search here.

Journey Experiences


Video courtesy of Dinie Razin.

Booking Methods

  • SRT counters
  • Online from 12Go Asia (joint ticketing with connecting trains available)

Tickets are open for sale 60 days before departure.

How do I book tickets online?

Click here for a step-by-step guide for 12Go Asia.