Bangkok Hua Lamphong Train Terminal

Bangkok Hua Lamphong Train Station

Most Thailand Railway Travel Starts in the capital. The other day I went from Bangkok's Hua Lamphong terminal to Ayutthaya because the best to do this is by train. 

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The tracks above the surface are the natural extension of the one below where the Bangkok underground ends. The Hua Lamphong terminal is very similar to any other train station in Europe or US it is a huge hall and some smaller ones.

Bangkok Hua Lamphong Train Terminal

Bangkok Hua Lamphong train terminal

The structure is in service since hundred years now in 2017 but still a landmark of the capital it is also an architectural treasure of an attractive steel structure which has started to being built in the 19th century in many European cities. In terms of the railway, it is only topped by the terminal in Hat Yai which is an open one.

The basic steel structure design was by Italian architect Mario Tamagno who worked for the government at that time. In a few years the place is probably phased out and moved to Bang Sue to have more space and on the horizon is the advent of high-speed trains coming they say this since several years now but when the former government wanted to start it the military coup happen. 

As usual with such projects there is a constant renovation which is so usual in Thailand, they always prefer to change to new and start with another one at scratch which has the attraction to having more “kickbacks” the building companies have to distribute to the relevant people who finally sign the contracts. Reported is only one major accident when a driverless locomotive crashed into the hall in 1986. 

Nothing has experienced much upgrading over the past century. But trains in Thailand have a good position in the transport system that means they are very cheap from first class to third class. In 2008, the government even started a free train policy (third-class only), hat year the passenger count in Hua Lamphong increased by over 350,000 within a year.

For many people who arrive with the railway from upcountry, the place is for transit and some stay here and get homeless.

The homeless issue is not an uncommon sight at big railway stations all over the world. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of homeless children around. 

The government even created a street school to take care of them. They sleep in the wagons and clean themselves in the toilets and washrooms making a living from selling bottles or things people forgot, also drug addicts are around. The train station is somehow a microcosmos similar to the airport. 

There is similar terminus structure although bigger and with a better building quality that's the Grand Central Station in New York. The new hub at Bang Sue in North Bangkok has much more space for development and the relevant people who control this build up will make a fortune by the kickbacks which will flow in from the companies they sign the buildings deal with. 

Thailand has a wide range of corruption practice

Beside of the one mentioned another is typical which has produced already several scandals at the Bangkok Airports. That works like that and is done elsewhere too. the people who run the airport leased all shops etc. to family and friends, those again sub lease them to the highest bidder and the income they share with the relatives who run the airport via kickbacks. 

Since this is this system everywhere it is probably the real reason to make the station at Bang Sue because there are not as many trains arriving at Hua Lamphong to justify this from any other point of view. Since this always create billions of baht for the "right" people it's possible to imagine whats up in Thailand but there are thousands of people and kids who go to sleep hungry every day. For many people who visit Thailand, this is the second stop.

Bangkok Hua Lamphong Train Terminal