December 11, 2023

The King’s Birthday

Steam train Hua Lamphong

One of the problems of Thai ‘excursion trains’ is guessing when they might take place. Communications from the SRT are usually only in Thai, and can be very close the date they will take place. One exception to this is the steam train trip on the King’s birthday. It’s a public holiday, and we know the date. All you need then is someone in the queue at the station at 8.29 in the morning on the day the tickets go on sale. Enter stage left, Richard Barrow, who has kindly sorted this for me.

I was up early for this. I didn’t want to be late. This approach paid back massively as I arrived at Hua Lamphong at about 6.30 am and as the sun rose behind the station, I found the train on platform 5 with just a handful of equally enthusiastic rail fans. An hour later there were hundreds of people swarming all over the train and it’s twin steam locomotives up front. This pair are the Japanese post war engines, positioned front to back to haul the 16 carriages to Chachoengsao. Most were open window 3rd class fan, but there were a few carriages offering dining options. Third class was just fine for me. My carriage was just two back from the locos and their evocative sounds and smells.

I was so amazed to see how much the residents of Bangkok like their steam trains. Thousands of people waving and photographing the train as it chugged down the line at about 40 kph.

Chachoengsao turned out to be a much more interesting place than I had assumed, and after a boat trip, an tasty lunch and a few other stops we headed back to the station , just in time to witness the shunting of the locos.

Our return to Hua Lamphong was delayed by about an hour, but who cared. It was an wonderful day on the rails!




2 Comments on “The King’s Birthday

Jean-Pierre Henley
December 14, 2023 at 3:02 am

Hi Matthew. It’s Jean-Pierre from Canada. We met at Dosa King restaurant last week. Nice reading you.

Matthew Woodward
December 14, 2023 at 3:09 am

Nice to meet you both JP!


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