2013 saw 13 derailments on the northern railway line to Chiang Mai and in response the transport minister of the day ordered the line closed, all the track from Uttaradit to Chiang Mai relaid, and had the line reopened by December in the same year.
Yet the new government according to a news release cannot begin the nationwide project to lay double track until 2016 over a year away. Meanwhile it is pouring money into road expansion.
The latest news on this front is the wildly extravagant road tunnel at the only main road T-junction on Chiang Mai’s Super Highway, and now the announcement of a dual carriageway extension of Nimmanhaemin Rd south to the gate of the Wing 41 Airbase.
No sign however that general access will be allowed through this sensitive area where commercial vehicles are excluded and only Chiang Mai residents who purchase a special pass are allowed to drive their motorcycles or cars enroute to the airport, Airport Central and beyond.
Returning to the issue of railway improvements, an essential feature will need to be the elimination of hundreds of road-rail level crossings, such as the one in the picture below. Here the SRT (State Railways of Thailand) chose instead to link the Airport Rail Link it runs with the MRT underground railway by building a 200 metre long steel footbridge, rather than a short tunnel which would have sufficed and left money to spare to replace the level crossing with a bridge.