Thai Railway Nostalgia – At Hua Lamphong Station

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Recently I’ve been talking to my grand cousin born and raised in Thailand who makes some awesome street photography of scenes in Bangkok and the surrounding area. He told me something about railway nostalgia in Thailand underlining that with a little photographic journey which I am going to present to you here.

Thai Railway Nostalgia

At Bangkok Railway Station*

At Bangkok Railway Station – ‘Please leave the platform, the train is about to depart’*

If you’ve been to Bangkok, you might know the Hua Lamphong station (หัวลำโพง) which is officially known as Krungthep or Bangkok Railway Station (สถานีรถไฟกรุงเทพ). This is the main railway station in Bangkok operated by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT). It is located in the centre of the Pathum Wan District being the main terminal to northern, eastern, north-eastern and southern Thailand.

Thai classic train at Hua Lamphong Station*

Thai classic trains at Hua Lamphong Station*

Hua Lamphong Station is a quite old but nonetheless elegant Thai railway station which was opened in 1916. The station was constructed in an Italian Neo-Renaissance-style. Characteristic of this style are the wooden roofs and stained glass windows. The Italian architects Mario Tamagno and Annibale Rigotti were responsible for the design of this station. They also created several other early 20th century public buildings in Bangkok like for instance the Throne Hall in Dusit Garden and the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall in the Royal Plaza. As a matter of fact, Bangkok railway station has also been compared to the Frankfurt Train Station in Germany.

Inside Bangkok Railway Station*

Inside Bangkok Railway Station, built in an Italian Neo-Renaissance-style*

Indeed, in the economy class, the trains are old, rundown and even ramshackle. Thus, this was only the second time that my grand cousin took this train considering that the quality is quite low and below standard. In fact, the train’s interior is also very decayed because there has been no improvement and refurbishment for many decades. Alas, Thai railway is still the same as 50 years ago. No development!

Train breaking tools*

Train breaking tools at Thai railway station*

However, taking the Thai State Railway is a nostalgic experience that gives you ample opportunity to study faces and people 🙂

A tourist on the train - a new experience is about to begin*

A tourist on the train – a new experience is about to begin*

Today, Hua Lamphong serves over 130 trains and approximately 60,000 passengers every day. Since 2004, the station has been connected by an underground passage to the MRT (Metropolitan Rapid Transit) subway system’s Hua Lamphong Station.

On the train, going back home*

A man on the train, going back home*

Nonetheless, the Thai railway system will probably change and improve in the next few years due to the military government which has initiated a rail communication project. This project is concerned with developing modern railways in many Thai cities.

Contrast of life - the modern and the old*

Contrast of life – the modern and the old – a humble cottage outside vs. the lady with a smartphone*

Thus, hopefully maybe in about three to five years, Thailand will have a modern railway, monorail and high speed train system like other countries 😉

Waiting for the train at Hua Lamphong Station*

No comment – monk with a cigarette in his hand, waiting for the train at Hua Lamphong Station*

However, this is down the road – there is still ample scope to enjoy the nostalgic vibe of the old Thai railway system. What is more, there is always something interesting to be spotted – for example, a Buddhist monk with a cigarette in his hand. Indeed this must be a ‘modern’ and ‘unconventional’ monk 😉

Out there lies the future - looking outside the train*

Out there lies the future – looking outside the train*

Finally, we may say that Thai railway nostalgia is truly something special. If you like riding the train, I recommend you try the State Railway of Thailand, it is certainly worth a journey 🙂

Yours, Sirinya

(*photo credit: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram@knack66)

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