On the 25th June 2015 the Governor of the State Railways of Thailand, Wutthichart Kalayanamitr, announced that Hua Lamphong Train Station is set for retirement after more than 100 years of active service. The Governor stated that the plan was to move all services to Bang Sue Station in 2019.
Road Access is difficult at Bangkok Train Station
Not a bad plan. Hua Lamphong Station is inconveniently located in Bangkok’s China Town, and most local train travellers choose to board and alight trains at Bang Sue Railway already. The majority of Hualamphong bound trains pass through Bang Sue anyway before making the final very slow 30 to 60 minutes journey through to the main train station.
Bangkok Was Different Place when Hua Lamphong was Built
When Hua Lamphong Station was first opened to passengers, on the 25th June 1916, Bangkok was a very different place. The busy shops and restaurants on the Sukhumvit Road, and the commercial offices of the Silom area, would not be constructed for another 40 to 60 years. No airports had been constructed near Bangkok at this point either. Bangkok’s China Town really was the centre of government and commerce. The location of Bangkok’s main station made perfect sense in 1916. Move forward 99 years and the majority of train passengers now actively avoid going to Hua Lamphong unless they are changing trains, or they are tourists headed for the Old Quarter of Bangkok. It is much easier to get to both international and domestic airports from Bang Sue Railway Station, as well as to the large suburban areas on the fringes of Bangkok where most of the City’s population now live.
The Station Move Will Also Have Some Negative Effects
OK. So far so good on the plan to move Bangkok’s main train station. Now lets consider the negatives.
Anyone who has been to Bang Sue Station recently will tell you it doesn’t have the capacity to cope with the number of passengers or the number of trains. Bang Sue Station currently has 2 platforms, Hua Lamphong has 14. Bang Sue has covered seating areas for a couple of hundred people at most, Hua Lamphong can accommodate thousands, and it is pretty much the same story in respect of catering services and toilets. There is virtually nothing at Bang Sue Train Station, no one lingers there, after alighting the train they simply go straight to the MRT (subway) station or into a taxi. There is going need to a massive investment in Bang Sue Station before it can become the nation’s main train terminus, and they had better start pretty soon as 4 years is a short time frame for a project of this size, particularly when the design of the new structure has not been finalised, budgets agreed, and planning permission given.
Tough Job For Governor
Consider also that there will be winners and losers in this move – people will lose their homes and/or their livelihoods at both station sites – and dealing with these people is going to be as tough a job for Governor Wutthichart Kalayanamitr as constructing the new train station. We wish him luck.