Thailand: Thousands affected by train strike

More than 200,000 passengers were affected by the two-day nationwide train strike launched by employees of the State Railway of Thailand (SRT). The workers were protesting a cabinet resolution which they claim would lead to the privatization of the railway company. The strike was canceled Tuesday evening after authorities assured union officers that there will be no privatization involved with the railway modernization program.

Personal Thailand Blog believes it’s time to implement some reforms in Thailand’s railway system:

Well the rail way staff is striking because they do not want the government to reform them or rather the power people in the top does not want that…Do not get me wrong i do not want them to get private and sold out but please get some new lines going, sell of some land and do not cry strike every time you do not get what you want.

Because of the strike, thousands of passengers were forced to ride a bus. Yi Chin was one of the affected railway passengers:

Thais can have strike whenever they want to. We planned to take the train from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi to visit the Death Railway. But the train station staffs are on strike hoping that they will be able to get pay rise. We have to switch to riding bus.

State Railway of Thailand. From the Flickr page of Ian Fuller

State Railway of Thailand. From the Flickr page of Ian Fuller

My Thai Friend ponders whether privatization of the railway company would be good or bad for Thailand:

So would privatisation of the SRT be good for Thailand and the travelling public? On the one hand it might well lead to a cleaner more efficient service but on the other hand fares would inevitable rise, which would be of grave concern to many less wealthy Thais who rely on the system to provide cheap and in some cases free railway travel throughout Thailand.

A survey shows that majority of Thais are upset with the strike. A sample of Twitter reactions in Bangkok about the train strike:

da_mike: The big CHANGE should come to SRT. I don't agree with the union at this time.
siampearl: have train strike, look like this government agency has no profit for 10 years but the workers want more pay, problem
jakeneedham: There's a nationwide rail strike in Thailand today complete with angry-workers-against-the-bosses rhetoric evoking the US in the 1950's.
obruch: Nationwide strike halts all trains. Many passengers left stranded. Thailand is trying hard to boost the tourism…..
da_mike: Railway union deserve to be complained from passengers. Strike is not bad but they should tell passengers in advance.


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