The Special Express 46 or International Express is the night sleeper train linking Padang Besar Malaysia to Bangkok Hua Lamphong, Thailand. The train service is formed in this new schedule due to the conversion of the previous Special Express 36 timetable to the Special Express 32 Thaksinarath, along with the change in both country’s railways truncating services to the border at Padang Besar, Malaysia only. As such, the Special Express 46 will run combined with the Special Express 38 Thaksin Express between Hat Yai Junction and Bangkok Hua Lamphong.
The State Railway of Thailand office and ticket counter is located on the northern end of the platform at Padang Besar Malaysia. I headed here to settle some other future tickets first.
Heading into the Padang Besar SRT ticket office.
If you need to get your Special Express 46 ticket, you can purchase it at the ticket counter in the office, though I would highly recommend you don’t buy your long-distance ticket at the last minute as tickets are open 90 days before departure, so the odds of securing one is pretty slim.
I had purchased my Special Express 46 ticket online about a month ago so I used the e-ticket printout instead. Reprinting into the actual ticket is neither necessary nor possible.
As I had plenty of time to transit, I decided to use it trainspotting. Here’s the Express 949 Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train arriving in Padang Besar, 15 minutes before time.
The fireman of the Express 949 Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train handing over the Khlong Ngae – Padang Besar token to the station master.
The destination sign of the Express 949 Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train.
Immigration is first opened for arriving passengers from Hat Yai.
Passengers heading to Hat Yai or Bangkok have to wait at Platform 1 for all inbound passengers from Hat Yai to be cleared first.
During this waiting time, I picked up the Thailand immigration form (TM6) from this lady in charge of them. Each ticket will be entitled to one immigration form.
A mark on the ticket will be made by the immigration card lady.
The locomotive of the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train rounding around.
The Express 950 Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train is now formed.
At about 4.10pm, the immigration finally opened for passengers heading north to Thailand.
IMPORTANT: Immigration closes at 4.30pm. It is important that you enter the checkpoint together with the group to be assured to clear both Malaysia and Thailand immigration at Padang Besar Railway Station. If you fail to enter the immigration area before immigration closes, you may have to walk to the road checkpoint to clear it, which may result in you missing your train.
Heading in to the joint passport control area for Malaysia and Thailand immigration.
Queuing up for Malaysia immigration with a side duty-free shop. Immigration here at Padang Besar Railway Station for both Malaysia and Thailand went on relatively fuss-free.
Around immigration time, Jai is around to sell dtac Happy Tourist SIM Cards and dinner for the Special Express 46.
While they typically cost 299 Baht when purchased directly from dtac or other resellers, Jai (or Ah Chai) 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 SIM card purchasing service which I think offers the most convenient way to buy a SIM card just before entering 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.
Jai also serves dinner sets, only for the Special Express 46 to Bangkok. 4 Thai chicken sets are available to choose from, along with a basic vegetarian set. Each set meal costs RM28 or 190 Baht. There is also Tom Yum Goong available for 150 Baht, good for sharing.
Once everyone has cleared immigration, the Express 950 Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train departs for Hat Yai Junction.
About 40 minutes to departure, the locomotive for my Special Express 46 arrived in Padang Besar.
GEA4532 heading straight into the sidings to pick up the Special Express 46 rake.
Coupling to the Special Express 46 rake at Padang Besar.
GEA4532 forming the Special Express 46 train at Padang Besar.
Hauling the Special Express 46 train into Platform 1.
The Special Express 46 train stops just after the fouling point to wait for passengers.
Seems like it’s a perfect stopping point for the ANS40 coaches to be just outside the SRT office.
GEA4532 at Padang Besar, taking me to Hat Yai Junction on the Special Express 46.
Heading back to the ANS40 coaches to board my hostel for the night.
There are just two passenger coaches on the Special Express 46 for passenger service.
I’m in Car 12.
Boarding the Daewoo ANS.
Please mind the platform gap. Seriously.
The interior of the Daewoo Air-Conditioned Second Class Day & Night Coach (ANS.) 40 seats.
My seat/berth is at 18.
In the day configuration, seats are formed in bays facing each other.
I considered a long time if I should post this information publicly or not, but I guess I will for the benefit of you who actually read the article rather than just comment on Facebook according to the cover picture and title.
I picked Seat/Berth 18 for the all-important power socket.
While at Padang Besar, Jai sets up the dining table to ready his meal for me.
I ordered Jai’s Set B which consists of Jasmine Rice, Fried Chicken with Cashew Nuts, Crispy Fried Chicken, a choice of drink (I picked Iced Milo) and fruits. Each rice set costs 190 Baht.
For Muslim passengers, I highly recommend ordering your train dinner from Jai as the Bogie Restaurant attached from Hat Yai Junction onwards is not Halal.
I ordered a Tom Yum Goong (prawns) to share too. This soup costs 150 Baht.
The full Thai dinner feast all laid out. Having Thai food before the Thai train even enters Thailand, only in Padang Besar.
My main with Cashew Chicken and Fried Chicken with a lot of rice, perhaps a bit too much.
Departing from Padang Besar Malaysia on time at 6pm Malaysia time.
Heading towards Thailand.
Crossing the border from Malaysia to Thailand.
And hello, Thailand.
Making a brief stop at Padang Besar (Thai) where more passengers boarded the train.
Making a brief stop at Khlong Ngae where more passengers boarded the train.
CCTV is now installed in the ANS40 coach.
Arriving at Hat Yai Junction.
Making a long stop at Hat Yai Junction as the Special Express 46 train was early.
However, the early arrival time was taken up by lots of shunting.
The shunting crew go about preparing my rake to be attached to the incoming Special Express 38 Thaksin Express.
The empty rake of Special Express 32 Thaksinarath is parked beside.
After the shunting, I ordered a Thai Iced Milk Tea for 20 Baht from a roving hawker.
At Hat Yai Junction, the conductor comes around to check for tickets.
My checked ticket for the Special Express 46.
A bit of a waste of opportunity that this conductor didn’t clip the ticket with a heart though.
Departing from Hat Yai Junction.
The empty rake of Special Express 32 Thaksinarath departed at the same time too to a siding ahead to reverse back to the platform.
I’m not sure which ANS I like more.
Shortly after departure, the attendant comes around to convert all the seats into beds.
Making the lower bed in under 3 seconds.
Flipping down the upper berth.
The bedding is stored in the upper berth.
Single-handedly making the beds faster than any hotel can do it.
Less than 3 minutes after starting the conversion process, my clean pulled sheets are ready for my night’s rest.
The lower berth on the Daewoo ANS is huge, almost like an actual single bed in a hotel room. This is due to the fact that the pure-day configuration on the Daewoo ANS allows for 80 seated passengers, so the width of seats which form the lower berth are wider than normal.
Curtains can be drawn fully, allowing no light to enter from the middle of the berth. But that being said, you have to skirt up the curtain to enter and exit the berth when closed.
Berth numbers are written on the curtains so that you don’t lose your way when 40 curtains throughout the length of the coach have been drawn.
A night light, small rope basket for small belongings, and emergency call button is found underneath the headrest when flipped up to form a shelf for bags.
Making a brief stop at Phatthalung.
After taking a cold shower in the squat toilet, I headed for an early night as it had been a long day training around without a proper night’s sleep on board the Transtar Premium the night before.
At around 7am, my ordered breakfast the night before was served.
I ordered the western “egg” set, which comes with two sunny side ups, pork sausages, pork ham, 2 slices of toast witj jam, and cut pineapples. This costs 150 Baht.
Coffee and tea is served fresh(ly poured from the packet).
Making a brief stop at Hua Hin. By this time, the train was delayed for 1 hour and 54 minutes. Not sure what happened.
Some upgrading works at Phetchaburi.
Making a brief stop at Phetchaburi.
Arriving at Ratchaburi.
At Ratchaburi, I bought my usual Kway Teow from the hawkers at the station for my brunch. Each packet costs 10 Baht.
This morning’s Kway Teow was one of the best I ever had from Ratchaburi Railway Station, probably due to the freshness. The noodles were very saucy with the right amount of seasoning, without clumping together like on afternoon or evening trains. One of the best cheap street foods in the world.
Passing by the Kway Teow stalls at Ratchaburi Railway Station.
Departing from Ratchaburi Railway Station.
After brunch, I decided to take a walk around Special Express 38 Thaksin Express to see the accommodation on offer.
The ANS from Sungai Golok are all formed of Tokyu Air-Conditioned Second Class Day & Night Coaches.
Most of the coaches are formed of Bogie Third Class coaches (BTC).
Both refurbished and unrefurbished BTC coaches are attached.
Heading past the live kitchen of the Bogie Restaurant Car (BRC).
The dining area of the Bogie Restaurant Car (BRC). However, the BRC closes after breakfast time, with only instant noodles and drinks available for random sales.
There are tables to dine in the Bogie Restaurant Car (BRC) if you like, but most people would usually get an at-seat or at-berth service.
There is also one Bogie Second Class Carriage (BSC) attached.
Right at the front of the train is the Daewoo Air-Conditioned First Class Day & Night Coach (ANF24).
The Daewoo Air-Conditioned First Class Day & Night Coach (ANF24) consists of 12 compartments fitting 2 passengers each.
There is a combined western toilet and shower room on board the the Daewoo Air-Conditioned First Class Day & Night Coach (ANF24).
The toilet seat is integrated with the toilet bowl itself.
Rather than a cold shower, the shower room is now fitted with an electric water heated similar to the ANFCN coaches.
A separate squat toilet is also available, with no shower facilities.
The hallway of the Daewoo Air-Conditioned First Class Day & Night Coach (ANF24).
Making a brief stop at Ban Pong.
Heading back to my berth, the attendant came around to convert them back into seats once my upstairs neighbour had woken up. Yup, that’s how comfortable the ANS is for people to sleep in till almost afternoon.
Clearing the bedding for two berths at once.
Placing the basic items back into the upper berth.
Shutting and locking the upper berth.
Bundling the used sheets and blankets together.
Folding back the berth into seats.
Once done, in less than 3 minutes, I had a day seat again for the remaining ride into Bangkok.
Entering the future electrified double track area west of Taling Chan Junction.
Some maintenance and road rail vehicles on the new track.
Passing through Taling Chan Junction.
Passing by the new electrified double track after Taling Chan Junction towards Bang Sue Junction.
Making a brief stop at Bang Bamru. Strangely, the tracks by the island platform does not seem to be electrified, just the outer bypass track.
Crossing the Rama VI Bridge over the Chao Phraya River.
Passing by Siam Gypsy Junction Night Market.
Passing through Bang Son. Strangely, not all trains stop here despite the opening of the MRT Purple Line here.
Taking the right curve into Bang Sue Junction, away from the new viaducts into Bang Sue Central.
Approaching the spaghetti mess of viaducts into the new 24-track Bang Sue Central.
Approaching the junction from the Northern and Northeastern Lines.
Passing by Bang Sue Locomotive Depot.
Not sure which line this dead end viaduct is for.
Just as I was hoping to get some new shots of Bang Sue Central, whoever the dispatcher was on the day decided to send an Ordinary train from the north and mine together beside each other into Bang Sue Junction. Fantastic.
The annoying view of a train beside me. Not now, train.
Approaching Bang Sue Junction.
The new facade of Bang Sue Central, taking shape rapidly.
The proximity of the existing Bang Sue Junction with the future Bang Sue Central.
Departing from Bang Sue Central.
The sleek and modern facade of Bang Sue Central.
The new viaducts tapering to the future Pradiphat station.
Making a brief stop at Sam Sen.
Crossing Thanon Si Ayutthaya at the wye junction towards Phaya Thai, used once a day by passenger trains.