Sep 15 2013
Following 13 train derailments so far this year, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) is closing some 250 kilometres of track in northern Thailand to perform necessary upgrades. Though this a wise (and overdue) decision, it means that anyone trying to reach Chiang Mai by rail will actually do so partly by an SRT-provided bus instead, at least until November 1.
According to an official at Bangkok‘s Hualamphong rail station we spoke to, and other reports, the entire rail line from Sila At station in Uttaradit province to Chiang Mai (see map) will be closed starting Monday, September 16.
The projected reopening date is November 1, 2013, though deadlines are frequently missed in Thailand rail projects. As of Saturday, September 14, no announcement had been made on the SRT’s website and searches for Chiang Mai bound trains were listed as usual.
Passengers who have already booked tickets to the north can inquire about a refund, but the SRT will continue selling tickets to Chiang Mai. The trains will run as far as Sila At, where passengers will be transferred to air-conditioned buses for the remaining three hour journey by road. This option is also available to those heading to Lampang, Lamphun and other points along the closed line.
Apart from the tedious prospect of transferring to a bus in Uttaradit, a couple of alternate options are available to travellers who were hoping to take the popular Bangkok to Chiang Mai overnight train during the closure. Either hop on one of the buses that depart 24/7 from Bangkok’s Morchit (northern) terminal, or if you’ve a bit more to spend, book a flight with Air Asia, Nok Air, Bangkok Airways or Thai Airways.
Otherwise, who’s up for a 12-hour tuk tuk ride?
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