Market Friday: the new railway station in Bangkok, saying goodbye to old Hua Lamphong station.


Finally, the reality has hit me hard and I needed time to accept the sudden change to my travel plans. The SRT ( State Railway of Thailand) had issued the ultimatum to force people to stop using the old Hua Lamphong railway station, which was constructed by King Rama V over a hundred years ago. The opening of the new central railway station at Bangsue has been delayed for almost a year; there were some protests and resistance to move to the new station.


Saying goodbye to Hua Lamphong station.



The construction project was planned and designed without proper consultations with various stakeholders. So, people who would be affected by this change would either have to comply or change to other mode of transportation. The winners would be politicians and their private sector buddies who would be making more money from real estate projects and railway land development.



The new railway station was initially called Grand Bangsue Railway Station. Later, the SRT realised that a grand public railway station name shouldn’t be named by a civil servant. So, a formal request for Royal blessing of a new name resulted: Krung Thep Aphiwat. The extraordinary high cost for changing the old name on the front of the station has led to rumours of corruption so a committee has been set up to investigate the budget(results pending). It seemed the opening of the new railway station has been fraught with problems and dissents among railway staff. The move would definitely incurred more traveling expenses for customers and inconvenience in connecting to local mass transit systems of buses and underground trains.



I was hoping that only the fast modern trains would be transferred to the new station terminal. But all north, northeastern and southern bound trains have been transferred to the new train terminal. The logistic of the new station is totally inadequate; it’s very difficult to get there via buses and underground trains. The old Hua Lamphong station is already a hub of underground trains and many buses. Hua Lamphong has been the center of train transportation for over a hundred years.



The new station could be reached by only one underground line which was not designed to easily connected to all other routes. There are no bus stops at the new terminal. So, the only way to get there would be by taking a taxi. I had no confidence in this construction project as it occurred in a vacuum without public knowledge on the details and how this project would improve their lives or living conditions. Most of the railway staff were against moving to the new place and their protests had delayed the move twice. The traveling expenses and time for local staff became quite problematic and some staff had already quit their jobs. Many poor and working people really suffer badly from this project.



I had no choice but to adapt to the new situation. So, I decided to survey the new railway station one week before my travel schedule. I took a taxi in the evening to avoid peak hours traffic jam; the location of the station sits right in the middle of heavy traffic area of Bangkok as it’s close by JJ Market (largest flea market in Bangkok) and close to the busy provincial bus terminal to all cities in the north and northeast. The taxi driver also thought it was a bad idea to have the main train terminal there as the traffic jam would get worse for commuters during daytime.



To my surprise, the taxi driver has never been to pick up passengers at the new station; he was afraid of traffic jam too. I have been reading and looking at maps on the internet trying to get all the relevant information about the station. Some people such as graphic designers had already made a very disappointing review of the station; the signs and information boards were not adequate in leading passengers to the right platforms; he got lost and had to seek help from railway staff.



I had to use my intuition in guiding the taxi to the parking as the roads around the station were pitch dark. The lamps were all switched off; I could hardly see the roads and junctions. I thought there might be a power blackout as the new station hasn’t been fully operational yet. Luckily, my sixth sense was spot on, I led the taxi to the back of the station where taxis would be waiting to pick up arriving passengers. The taxi driver felt a relief that we didn’t get lost. There was some street light at the exit gates.



The atmosphere was rather strangely deserted as if I had arrived at a village far away in foreign land. I took some photos of the stainless steel structures of the station. I have never seen a railway constructed with only steel and glass like this before. The building resembled a long shiny steel snake crawling over the landscape. The taxi parking was over fifty meters from the gate and there was no roof over the walkways. I could see lots of problems in rainy season. The elderly travelers would have a hard time with their luggages as there were no porters to assist them.



In Hua Lamphong station, passengers could get in or out of taxi without getting wet from rain and it’s only fifteen meters walk to the gate. At least two porters were available with trolleys; they would get the luggages up onto trains and place them nicely on those racks. I often depended on their service as I would normally have four pieces of belongings. I was quite amazed by the inept design concept of this project and designers’ inability to realise that Thai society is becoming full of elderly people similar to Japan.



Their design was more suitable for younger passengers with light luggage. The handicapped and elderly people traveling on their own would not make it to the train on time. It would take them more time to walk almost two kilometers from the parking lot to the ticket office and from the ticket office up to the platform on the first floor with their two luggages. I could foresee lots of complaints very soon, especially in rainy season. Everyone would get soaked together with their belongings; some would slip and fall down as the floor tiles would be slippery when wet!



There were inadequate signs in the hallway and I got lost even though I kept looking at the map on my mobile. The online map was also badly designed so I just walked around to get the impression of the whole place. I found the ticket office on the other side of the building; it was tucked away on one side so it wasn’t visible from inside the hallway. The entrance for passengers at the front side of the station was at gate no.4 and 5. This elongated silver snake appeared to be very cold, aloof and had no ‘soul’; it had no family pedigree or stories of past history only tales of corruptions and commissions. This place just reflected the result of secret dealings at high levels of authority and conflicts of interests.



The design of the building signified substandard professional capabilities of knowledge and professionalism. The design of the old (first) airport was much more functional and efficient with mobility support for the elderly and families with kids. I would give an F for the design of this new station. I shouldn’t be boring you with my criticism of this new railway station. But I ought to give you some idea so you wouldn’t have high expectations about our modern design of the station which was supposed to welcome high speed trains from Laos and China one day! I could imagine lots of repair and reconstruction in the near future. Besides, I also have observed that the risks management and safety standard at the station left much to be desired. Corruptions really lead to malfunctions and bad design outcomes at the expense of taxpayers.




The railway authority would continue to lose experienced technicians and staff as they gradually leave for new jobs. They couldn’t afford extra traveling costs and extra time for traveling to work. They would have to use taxis to get to work on time and get back home at night. Their lives and well beings have been negatively affected by this move. Passengers have to shoulder extra traveling time and cost to reach the station. Making easy connections to other local buses and underground trains had become past history. Those in high position would make plan to rent out spaces around the station and development of real estate projects around the old station in the future. Some people really knew how to make money!




I just hope there wouldn’t be a fire or earthquake at the new station; the design and close structures made me feel quite claustrophobic. Ventilation system would present a big problems when there’s a power outage. Safety aspects there left me feeling very uncertain of the future of this station. They might have to divert some trains back to Hua Lamphong one day, perhaps.


This year there are shuttle buses for taking passengers to Hua Lamphong station.


The shuttle bus arrived at Hua Lamphong later in the evening, I took some photos on my way to catch a local bus back home.



Wishing you peace, good health and prosperity.

Stay strong and cheerful.

#marketfriday hosted by @dswigle


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Thank you very much for your kind support. I do hope you could fix the bug soon. The App keeps crashing every minute!


Hi! I still couldn’t post on your App; the upload of photo has a problem. It uploads the same photo five times!


This corruption is everywhere and in all countries, unfortunately...


Yup! Corruptions have become a disease worldwide. Hope corrupted people will repent and change their mind one day.