International Express

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The International Express (Thai: รถด่วนพิเศษระหว่างประเทศ) is an express train between Bangkok, Thailand and Butterworth, Penang, Malaysia.

This train's passenger cars include 1st- and 2nd-class air-conditioned sleepers, and an air-conditioned dining car. Powerful Diesel Electric locomotives such as HID (Hitachi - 2500 HP) and GEA (General Electric - 2500 HP) are used to drive this express.

Brief history[edit]

The original name for this express was Southern Express. It was introduced on January 2, 1922 with sleeping cars, double-headed by two E-class locos, and ran weekly on every Monday (increased to twice a week - Wednesday and Saturday by 1930) from Bangkok Noy terminus (now Thonburi station).

The Termminus has changed from Bangkok Noy to Bangkok after the opening of Rama VI bridge on January 1, 1927.

Hanomag Pacific locos replaced E-class locos in 1929, and diesel locomotives had replaced Hanomag locomotives on December 2, 1931.[dubious ]

It was reduced a Wednesday-only service from 1940 to 1945.

The service was temporarily suspended from March 15, 1950 to January 2, 1954 due to war damage on the Southern line by bombs from Allied Forces during WWII as well as the insurgencies in Southern Thailand and Northern Malayu. The destruction of the Rama VI Bridge had compelled Thai State Railways [TSR] (replaced Royal State Railways [RSR] from August 16, 1939 to 1945) to use Thonburi (Bangkok Noy) as the terminal for the International Express and the Hat Yai express from January 2, 1944.

Hatyai Express (Bangkok - Hat Yai) was the substituted during the reduction of International service as well as during the suspension of International services even though it was introduced on April 3, 1939 (every Friday) to meet increasing demands from those who live in Songkla and deep Southern provinces. Hat Yai Express was extended to Sugei Golok in January 1942. It was back to Hat Yai after 1945.

The International service was resumed on the old schedule on January 2, 1954 after concluding the cross border treaty between SRT and FMSR.

Once there were enough diesel locomotives, the International Express ran daily. During 1966 - 1978 the service ran three times a week between Bangkok and Prai via Padang Besar (extended to Butterworth in 1967), and four times a week between Bangkok and Tumpat via Sugei Golok. After 1978, International Express ran between Bangkok and Butterworth via Padang Besar only. The substitute the service to Tumpat is the Bangkok - Sugei Golok express (see Thaksin Express).

Currently, the southbound train departs Bangkok at 14:45 daily and arrives in Butterworth at 11:55 the next day. The northbound train departs Butterworth at 13:10 daily and arrives in Bangkok at 10.50 the next day, changed from 09.30 due to the poor track condition of the section from Thung Song to Hat Yai.

The train passes cities and towns along the east coast of southern Thailand on the upper Malay peninsula. These include the old Buddhist city of Nakhon Pathom, the seaside resort town of Hua Hin, the port city of Surat Thani and the commercial city of Hat Yai (or Haadyai). The train crosses the Thai-Malaysian border at Padang Besar before reaching the destination at the port city of Butterworth, which is opposite Penang Island, a resort island on the northern west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

Timetable[edit]

Train Number 35 Bangkok - Padang Besar - Butterworth (departure times unless otherwise specified)

  • Bangkok (กรุงเทพ) - 14:45
  • Sam Sen (สามเสน) - 15:00
  • Bang Sue (บางซื่อ) - 15:09
  • Bang Bumru (บางบำหรุ) - 15:26
  • Salaya (ศาลายา) - 15:43
  • Nakhon Pathom (นครปฐม) - 16:11
  • Rajburi (ราชบุรี) - 17:01
  • Phetchaburi (เมืองเพชรบุรี) - 17:47
  • Hua Hin (หัวหิน) - 18:45 - three-minute stop to change crews
  • Bang Saphan Yai (บางสะพานใหญ่)- 21:07
  • Chumpon (ชุมพร) - 22:45 - ten-minute stop for refuelling and changing crews
  • Surat Thani (สุราษฎร์ธานี) - 01:26 next day - five-minute stop to change crews
  • Thung Song (ทุ่งสง) - 03:22 - 15-minute stop for refuelling and changing crews
  • Phatthalung (พัทลุง) - 05:06 - three-minute stop to change crews
  • Hatyai (หาดใหญ่) - 07:00 - 25-minute stop for uncoupling Hat Yai coaches, and refuelling
  • Klong Ngae (คลองแงะ) - 07:28
  • Padang Besar (ปาดังเบซาร์) - 07:55 (Arrive - Thailand time) [Departure 10:00 (Malaysia time)] - immigration checkpoint and changing to KTMB locomotives.
  • Arau (อารอ) 10:34 Malaysia time
  • Alor Setar (อาลอสตาร์) 11:17 Malaysia time
  • Sugai Petani (สุไหงปัตตานี) 12:26 Malaysia time
  • Bukit Mertajam (บูกิตเมอร์ตายัม) 13:06 Malaysia time
  • Butterworth (บัตเตอร์เวิร์ธ) - 13:30 Malaysia time, arrival

Train Number 36 Butterworth - Padang Besar - Bangkok (Departure times unless specified)

  • Butterworth (บัตเตอร์เวิร์ธ) - 14:30 Malaysia Time
  • Bukit Mertajam (บูกิตเมอร์ตายัม) 14:49 Malaysia time
  • Sugai Petani (สุไหงปัตตานี) 15:33 Malaysia time
  • Alor Setar (อาลอสตาร์) 16:41 Malaysia time
  • Arau (อารอ) 17:23 Malaysia time
  • Padang Besar (ปาดังเบซาร์) - 18:00 Thailand time [Departure 18:40 (Departure - Malaysia time)] - immigration checkpoint and changing to SRT locomotives
  • Klong Ngae (คลองแงะ) - 18:07
  • Hatyai (หาดใหญ่) - 18:45 - 15-minute stop for attaching carriages from Hat Yai and refuelling
  • Phatthalung (พัทลุง) - 20:19 - three-minute stop to change crews
  • Thung Song (ทุ่งสง) - 22:07 - 15-minute stop for refuelling and changing crews
  • Surat Thani (สุราษฎร์ธานี) - 23:57 - three-minute stop for changing crews
  • Chumpon (ชุมพร) - 02:34 next day) - 20-minute stop for refuelling and changing crews
  • Bang Saphan Yai (บางสะพานใหญ่)- 04:04
  • Hua Hin (หัวหิน) - 06:29 - three-minute stop to change crews
  • Phetchaburi (เมืองเพชรบุรี) - 07:27
  • Rajburi (ราชบุรี) - 08:13
  • Nakhon Pathom (นครปฐม) - 09:03
  • Salaya (ศาลายา) - 09:31
  • Bang Bumru (บางบำหรุ) - 09:50
  • Bang Sue (บางซื่อ) - 10:08
  • Sam Sen (สามเสน) - 10:17
  • Bangkok (กรุงเทพ) - 10:30 arrival

Current status[edit]

The number of rakes across the Border for International Express had been reduced from 3-4 second class carriages to 2 second class carriages due to poor demands caused by poor track condiction from Thung Song Junction (km 773 from Hua Lamphong) to Hat Yai (km 941 from Hua Lamphong) which compelled SRT to reschedule International Express No. 36, reaching Bangkok very late instead of in the Morning.

SRT is starting to rehabilitate the track from Thung Song Junction (km 773 from Hua Lamphong) to Ban Ton Done (km 872 from Hua Lamphong - 10 km South of Phatthalung station) by putting concrete sleepers for 100 Lb/yard steel rails along the line from Khao Chumthong Junction (km 797 from Hua Lamphong) to Phatthalung (km 862 from Hua Lamphong). There is a hope that SRT could restore the old schedule after finishing track rehabilitation of the Southern line to allow faster trains on the Southern lines.

References[edit]