Thailand’s Railway Network has approximately 4,070 km of railway track on five major intercity railway lines and some smaller commuter lines. Currently the only direct connection between the Malaysian Railway network and the Thai Railway Network is at Padang Besar, with a single passenger train service running each way daily from Butterworth (near Penang) to Bangkok. There are also 14 daily shuttle services in each direction on the line between Butterworth and Hat Yai in Thailand, and several departures a month on the famous Eastern & Oriental Express which is a luxury passenger service travelling both ways between Bangkok’s main train station and Woodlands Train Checkpoint in Singapore.
The other way to connect between the Malaysian Railway Network and the Thai Railway Network is to take the East Coast (Jungle) Train Line to Wakaf Bharu, near the top end of the line and from there take a bus to Jalan Pendek Bus Station in Kota Bharu. From Jalan Pendek Bus Station there is a bus service every 30 minutes until 18:30 to Rantau Panjang bus station, which is a 200 metre walk to the Thai border. From the Thai side of the border it is only 1 km by road to Sungai Kolok Train Station in Thailand from where you catch trains to Hat Yai, Surat Thani, Hua Hin, Bangkok and lots of smaller stations in between. Once in Bangkok to can change to one of the other four major intercity train lines into Thailand for travel to Laos and Cambodia.
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Train Lines in Thailand
Thailand has five major train line which radiate out from Bangkok making almost all of the country accessible by train. Four out of the five train lines start from Bangkok’s main train station, Hua Lamphong Train. The exception is the Kanchanaburi Line which starts at Thonburi train station located on the Western side of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River:
- Southern Train Line: The Southern Line is Thailand’s longest train line in Thailand running 1,144 kilometres from Sungai Kolok (near the border with Malaysia) to Bangkok, passing through major cities on route such as Hat Yai, Surat Thani (the connection point for ferries to Koh Samui and Koh Phangan), Chumphon (connection point for ferries to Koh Tao), and Hua Hin.
- Northern Train Line: The Northern train Line runs 751 kilometres from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Railway Station to Chiang Mai. The train passes through Ayutthaya, Phitsanulok (for bus services to Sukhothai) and Den Chai (for bus services to Phrae) before terminating in Chiang Mai. Many train travellers consider this route to have the best scenery on Thailand’s Railway Network.
- North Eastern Train Line: This train line has two branches. One branch travels from Bangkok North to Nong Khai, which on the border with Laos, via major cities such as Khon Kaen and Udon Thai. The other branch of the line heads Eastwards via Pak Chong, Nakhon Ratchasima, and Surin before terminating in Ubon Ratchathani.
- Eastern Line: This is a lesser used train line with is generally very slow with lower quality commuter train services. One branch of the line turns South to Pattaya and the port of Marp Ta Put, the other branch continues East to Aranyapathet, which is on the border with Cambodia. Plans are in place to reconnect the Thai and Cambodian Railway networks at Aranyapathet but the progress has been slow because of opposition within Cambodia.
- Kanchanaburi Line: This railway has only two services each day from Bangkok’s Thonburi Railway Station to Kanchanaburi following the route of the famous ‘Death Railway’ and then onto Nam Tok at the end of the Kanchanaburi Line. There has been talk of extending this train line onto Myanmar, however, progress in even formulating a plan to connect the two rail networks has been very slow and the prospect of a train connection between Thailand and Myanmar remains a distant dream.