Most people who travel through Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong train station are unaware that it houses the Thai Railway Museum. The entrance to the museum is located at the left hand side of the grand entrance to the station, opposite the entrance to KFC restaurant.
The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10.00 to 18.00 (except public holidays) and admission is free. It is worth visiting if you have a few minutes to wait before your train leaves.
This museum, managed by the Thai Railway Foundation, is small but packed with artefacts dating back across more than 100 years in no particular order, and without explanatory signage.
The museum is not normally busy and the attendant is normally more than willing to take the opportunity to explain some of the items on display.
History of train tickets in Thailand
In 1951, the same year as the Royal State Railways Thailand (RSR) changed it name to simply the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), the first automated ticketing machine was brought into use for train tickets in Thailand. Before then all tickets were hand written, as is still the case with train tickets in Myanmar. Machines were ordered from Germany which stamped small rectangular tickets with the date and number of the train. In the picture above you will see that the tickets are a variety of different colours. The colour of the ticket related to the class: Yellow = 1st Class; Green = 2nd Class; and Orange = 3rd Class.
Amongst the other items in display are some antique railway related mechanical device. The points machine pictured above dates back to the 1950s and is one of a pair which still works.
Luxury travel on Thailand Trains
Travellers on today’s Thailand trains often associate travel on Thailand’s trains with basic facilities and great value for money. However, Thailand’s railway service has, since it creation, also catered to travel by royalty and other important people in elegant trains with fine dining.
These plates would once have been used to serve food to some very important people. This tradition is still alive with the SRT’s Prestige Trains where diners are still served food on distinctive SRT china plates.
Hua Lamphong set to become a museum
The Thai Railway Museum at Bangkok Train Station is small but well worth a visit if you are waiting for a train. Hua Lamphong Train Station is set to become a giant museum in 2019 or 2020 when the main train terminus will be moved to a new site near the existing existing Bang Sue train station.
This small museum is a great start to the process of developing a larger collection to fill the cavernous space of the current station building. We say go along and show some support and encouragement for the Foundation’s efforts to preserve Thailand’s train history.