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Behind the Scenes at the Makkasan Rail Depot

When Hua Lamphong was the station for the privately run Paknam line, the railway workshops were mainly located close by, just across the canal. However, when work began on the current Bangkok Railway Station in 1910 all these workshops had to be relocated to Makkasan, which had been open as both a station and a smaller depot since 1897. This isn’t the location of the MRT stop with the same name, but a location 5 km northeast of the city centre. You actually pass right by the short platform on the line from Bangkok to Pattaya. (Small piece of rock […]

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The 171 Rapid Train to Hua Hin (and onward to Su-Ngai Kolok)

Train 171 is neither a modern long distance train or a local one. It’s somewhere in between – a train with older carriages on an overnight route. In fact it is currently the longest distance train in Thailand, travelling from Bangkok to Su-Ngai Kolok in around 22 hours, depending on the degree of flooding and the progress of other trains on the single track stretches of line. I took this route the other week as far as Hat Yai, 17 hours away, well 20 hours by the time we actually arrived. My plan is a cunning one. This train stops […]

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Behind the Scenes at Bangkok Railway Station

Many of you will know that this is going to be a big year for the railway in Thailand. Bang Sue Grand station will finally take over as the Bangkok rail hub for all long distance trains. A modern airport like station, it will offer passengers a rather different experience to its wonderful predecessor, Bangkok Railway Station – better known to most as Hua Lamphong. Let’s get that one out the way to start with. The original station was built where the canal is alongside Rama IV road as part of a private line which opened in 1893 and closed […]

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Train 31 – The Special Express to Hat Yai

It’s the usual procedure at Hua Lamphong, or as I’ve now been reminded by several people to more correctly call it, Bangkok Railway Station (that’s going to really confuse people later this year when Bang Sue Grand finally opens). Trying to travel light, I have just my daypack and my cool box, loaded with provisions for the 17 hour journey south. Train 31 turns out to be another one comprised of the modern Chinese carriages, despite some confusion as my ticket agent says its an older Korean train. Whilst its easy to buy tickets at the station for most trains, […]

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Train 9 – The Special Express to Chiang Mai

I’ve always loved the atmosphere at Hua Lamphong. It never seems to overwhelm, just a nice feel of passengers waiting to travel and anticipating their adventures. No one seems in a rush here. Everyone is polite, and many are even talkative. This will never catch on at Euston! The double edged sword of rail development in Thailand means that this will be the final year for most of this station’s long distance routes, as they switch to the new station at Bang Sue Grand, next door to Bang Sue Junction. This change is a big one in the city and […]

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The 998 Rapid from Pattaya to Bangkok

I’ve had a pretty dismal weekend in Pattaya, even though I had pretty low expectations.. More of the story in the book! I’m keen to escape and I have secured a ticket back from the seaside to Bangkok. The first problem in my escape plan is finding the station. When I tell locals where I’m going they look at me like I’m a bit mad, and three out of four taxi drivers say it doesn’t even exist before offering to try and find it for 300 baht. But eventually I find a driver who says he knows it and takes […]

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The Maeklong Market Train

One rather unusual train ride has been growing in popularity with travellers here in Bangkok for a few years now. It is not actually one train, but two and with a river crossing thrown in too. Departing from the little known and quite hard to find Wong Wian Yai station, it travels to Mahachai and then over the river and a second train to Maeklong, which is about 50 kilometres outside the city. There are plenty of trains on the first section, but currently only four per day on the final leg, making it hard to do without devoting a […]

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Train 25 – the Special Express to Nong Khai

Bangkok Railway Station – known to most people as Hua Lamphong – is cool and calm in the early evening after a sweltering day in Bangkok. There is no queuing, red tape or any of the common problems to be found at modern airports here. Walking into the huge central waiting area, there is a single departures board and an open entrance to the platforms underneath a portrait of the King. I walk straight through, and exactly one hour before departure, spot my train – number 25 – being shunted back onto platform 3. It’s a modern train made up […]

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Train 257 to Nam Tok

I’m going to be writing shorter blog posts whilst on this journey. I’m sorry about that, but as I’m discovering it’s hard to take notes for the book at the same time as blogging, photographing and posting on social media. It would be possible, but I like a little time to unwind at the end of the day with a couple of cold beers. I’m also going to save the stories of my ‘adventures’ for the book – the blogs will be more of a log book of my trips. I’m writing these on an iPad in a bit of […]

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Back On The Rails

Before I write anything else,  I’d like to apologise for the distinct lack of posts here during the COVID pandemic. I just didn’t want to water down the DNA of my blog, which is all about organising and taking amazing rail trips. I hope that you are safe & well and are thinking about your own next adventure. Determined to finally escape my lockdown life and get back on the rails, at last I now have a plan, and I think it’s a reasonably cunning one. This feels really good. The first year of my life in the pandemic wasn’t […]

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