Thai rail service resumes after one-day strike

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BANGKOK, Nov 1 (Reuters) Rail services resumed across Thailand today after trade unions called off a nationwide strike that left thousands of passengers stranded.

State Railway of Thailand agreed after five hours of talks with union leaders yesterday to look into six issues behindthe strike, including the impact of a trade deal with Japan, fare structures and the leasing of railway land.

''The trains were back in service from 4 am,'' 0230 hrs IST union chief Riangsak Kaengkan told a Bangkok radio station.

''Our negotiations went well and action will be taken,'' he said.

Thousands of rail passengers and goods were stranded when about 400 drivers and mechanics took sick leave late on Tuesday in the country's worst rail strike since 1988, newspapers said.

Among the six issues raised by the union was a Japan-Thailand trade pact it feared would liberalise the logistics industry and allow Japanese firms to bid for cargo contracts, thereby hurting the debt-ridden railway.

But a Commerce Ministry official told Reuters the rail union had misunderstood the Japanese-Thai Economic Partnership Agreement due to come into effect today.

''There's no direct link between JTEPA and privatisation of state enterprises. Someone may try to turn this into a political issue,'' said the official, who declined to be identified.

REUTERS PD AS1125

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