The engineer of the freight train that collided with a bus, killing 19 people on a railway in Chachoengsao’s Muang district on Sunday, will not be prosecuted, provincial police said.
Pol Maj Gen Chakrit Sawasdee, commander of the provincial police, told the media yesterday the collision was an accident and the engineer should not be prosecuted for it.
The 439-metre freight train weighed about 2,000 tonnes and is said to need at least 600m to stop. The engineer said he sounded his engine’s horn and used warning light signals 300m before the fatal collision.
He said visibility was poor at the time and the bus driver was not familiar with local routes, adding the bus driver had been playing loud music, which may have prevented him from hearing the train’s horn.
There was no barrier in place, but there was a warning sign and clear light signal, Pol Maj Gen Sawasdee said.
The bus’ maximum passenger load was 42, but the vehicle was carrying about 70 people at the time. The extra weight may have prevented the vehicle from crossing the railway line in time.
Maitri Titilanan, the provincial governor, said he has instructed provincial and local administrative organisations and municipalities with level crossings to allocate budgets for automatic train barriers worth 3.5 million baht each.
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob admitted the budget for the procurement of the train barriers was cut by a House committee during debate on the 2021 appropriation bill. Democrat MP Akkhraradet Wongphithakrote, deputy chairman of the committee, said he will table the issue of train barriers at level crossings during a committee meeting on 29th October.
Anirut Saengsri, 45, uncle of one of the 19 victims, urged the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) to admit liability for failing to install train barriers in Muang district, and blamed the bus driver for recklessness and playing loud music.
According to the SRT, there were 2,657 train crossings across the kingdom in 2019, with 676 of them considered illegal due to lack of safety measures in place, including the absence of barriers.
There were 486 accidents related to train crossings and railways from 2014 to last year, 143 of which were at illegal crossings.