Saturday, June 10, 2023

Taking the Traditional Rail Passenger Train for the First Time @ Bangkok (From Hua Lamphong to Samsen) [Thailand]

Many a times, in my travel to the fascinating city of
Bangkok, I had passed by the impressive Hualamphong railway station; in fact, there was a time when I stayed diagonally across, at Prime Hotel Central Station (now known as The Quarter Hua Lamphong by UHG). 

With a history of more than 100 years, its official name is actually Bangkok railway station but almost everyone knows it as Hua Lamphong railway station. The water fountain in the above photo, with a statue of Erawan, was completed only after World War 2. 

First time stepping into the expansive station; do note that it's no longer the central railway hub for Bangkok with the opening of Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal. The long term plan is to convert Hua Lamphong railway station to a museum and at its present state, it only caters for local commuter lines.

Beautiful, glass stained windows. I remember it was a hive of activity in the past from the outside with many people going in and out of the station. Now, it was a lot less crowded, which means better conditions for photo taking.

My purpose for visit was primarily not for sightseeing though. For this trip made in February 2023, we stayed at the nearby Hotel Royal Bangkok and were supposed to meet our local friend for pad thai at Sawasdee Ratchawat, which was within walking distance from Samsen, a local train station. 

Hence, I took the opportunity to check out Hua Lamphong railway station and take the traditional local passenger rail, different from the usual BTS and MRT route. After paying for the tickets, I exclaimed to Alex that it only cost 2 baht (around 8 Singapore cents) per person for a class 3 ticket! 

Section for the train platforms; one end was the green-stained glass panels and the other end was the yellow-stained glass panels. Whatever the case, it felt like a hangar to me! 

Designated photo spot for any travelers; gave me the Japanese vibe with the pink, blooming sakura-like flowers. They were fakes though; nevertheless, still a pretty sight. 

I can draw some parallels between Hua Lamphong railway station and Singapore's Tanjong Pagar railway station; both were hubs for traditional rail and were scheduled to become museums in the future. For the latter, it was much smaller and the museum was expected to be soft launched at the end of the year. 

What would you hope to see? I would love to see an original train carriage to be on display. Maybe one that would be converted into an eatery with a railway theme. 

Anyone knows what these are?

There are a few names for them; essentially, they "prevent railway vehicles from going past the end of a physical section of track" and are known as "buffer stops, bumpers, bumping posts, bumper blocks or stopblocks".

Directory map for the station; with 12 platforms in total, some tracks seemed narrower than the other. My friend, Andrew, would be able to provide more information given his obsession with the railways! 

Platform 7; where we were supposed to tale the train.

Train number 209; our allocated train for this short, less than 5-kilometer journey. It looked like it had weathered many years but I sure aren't complaining for a ticket price that cost me less than ten cents.

Pretty high steps to the train carriage.

A walk down memory lane; the covers for the seats reminded me of buses in the 80s and even the windows were familiar, requiring us to hold the levers on both ends before we can bring it down!

Couldn't resist pictures to share with our Singapore friends! Our tickets didn't allocate seating and to be frank, I didn't know if we had to stand throughout or to just take any seats there were empty. We trust in the latter.

In between train cars; two things that came to mind. I really need to be careful with belongings, especially my mobile phone given how clumsy I am. The second thing is; if I need to go and the washroom is not available, there's this option.

Now, I couldn't remember; the doors were segregated with one side being high platform and the other being low platform? Quite confusing for the train drivers. 

Time to chug out of the station! Notice the green railway signal flag?! There are six colors in total and I think most of us would be accustomed to the green, red and orange, similar to our traffic lights. There are also white, yellow and blue! Read here for more info!

Photos taken along the way.

Would you like to live next to the train tracks?! In Singapore, there were so many complaints about the noise from the MRT train tracks that noise barriers were eventually added! 

Arrival at Samsen railway station! So the flags were used by two parties which would have made sense like a double confirmation for safety reason. We don't see them in Singapore as our train tracks used an automatic signaling system. 

So tempted to ring the bell! 

Last few photographs showing the Samsen station. I am not familiar with this area but it's said to be the oldest neighborhood in Bangkok, with a history starting from the 17th century! 

A video for your viewing pleasure! 

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