BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network): The special express train service linking Kuala Lumpur and Hat Yai is expected to deliver an economic bonus for Songkhla this year.
The MYSawasdee tourist train service is scheduled to make another 10 return trips between the Malaysian capital and the southern Thai city this year.
Operated by the Malayan Railways (KTMB), the special weekend train comprises 11 carriages with capacity for 400 passengers. It has made two trips so far this year, on Feb 4 and April 29.
The train departs Kuala Lumpur on Saturdays to coincide with festivals and other special events in Hat Yai. Malaysian tourists take the return trip on Sundays.
Four special KL-Hat Yai express trains are scheduled in December alone this year.
Packed with foreign visitors, the trains help generate income for restaurants, hotels, retailers, and nightlife venues in Hat Yai and Songkhla, said Hat Yai Junction station master Narongrit Karikarn.
The availability of special train service throughout the year also reflects the confidence of Malaysian tourists in traveling to Hat Yai and Songkhla, he added.
For the May 1 holiday, police and other agencies were on hand at Hat Yai railway station to boost tourists’ confidence in both safety measures and travel amenities.
Songkhla Tourism Council president Sompol Chevawattanapong expects the special train service to boost the tourism industry in Hat Yai and the southern border province.
If the route proves to be popular, it could become a regular weekend service, he said.
"We will see how it goes until July or August. We may have more talks aimed at upping the frequency of the Kuala Lumpur-Hat Yai service to every weekend," he said.
He added that tourist numbers in Songkhla for the first four months of this year were at 90% of the figure in the same period in 2019 before the pandemic. Most of the foreign visitors to Songkhla are from Malaysia.