Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Free rides in 3rd class, but not all trains

The government's free train travel programme launches tomorrow _ but only on third-class services over a limited distance. The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) will offer the free rides as part of the government's six-month economic assistance package for the poor.

But the service will be available only on non-airconditioned, third-class, non-express trains.

SRT spokesman Pairat Rojcharoen-ngarm said free rides would be available on 380 carriages of 164 third-class trains and on ''combi'' trains, which have both freight and third-class passenger compartments.

The third-class compartments of combi trains which also have second-class or first-class carriages would not be part of the scheme, nor would the third-class carriages of express services.

Fare-free trains will run on most of the four SRT lines, Mr Pairat said. However, free northbound services would end their runs at the Den Chai station in Phrae province, despite the northernmost destination being Chiang Mai.

Heading south, the free rides would go only as far as Chumphon. Normal fares will apply if passengers from Bangkok wish to go beyond these destinations.

However, there will be 10 free services from Hat Yai to the three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala.

Northeastern journeys will end in Nakhon Ratchasima and Khon Kaen provinces, and the eastern trains will travel to Aranyaprathet in Sa Kaeo province.

Trains and platforms offering free rides will be marked with green signs.

Passengers will not need to obtain any tickets or passes before boarding the free trains, said Mr Pairat.

The SRT has already cut the fares of express trains on the three suburban routes, from 110 baht to between 20 and 50 baht depending on the distance.

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