Bangkok on rails

‘An urban rail rarity’

After thirteen years of being in service the Skytrain is a well adopted nickname for Bangkok’s first build subway system on a elevated structure average twelve meters above street level. BTS – Bangkok Transit System is the real name. The term Skytrain was inherited from the Lavalin company contracted in the first place to build the construction and hence exploitation. They did the same in Vancouver and with success something in Thailand that didn’t work for one reason or another. They loose the job and the German company Siemens took over.
On December 5th 1999 – the birthday of the beloved king Bhumiphol, Rama IX in the Chakri dynasty – the trains start to move people from Mo Chit to On Nut the so called Sukhumvit line and from the National Stadium to Saphan Taksin and named after the Silom Road partly passed. Meanwhile both lines do have extensions and others are well under way.
The BTS was founded with foreign financial means and remains a private company though some powers within the government tried to bring it back under their umbrella, a complete opposite direction the world of Public Transport in the West is going but certainly not free of a disastrous outcome. The BTS however, is running well and tries to co-op with the increasing number of passengers. Recently they purchased new and longer trains build in China this time on account of the price tag I suppose. Still do not be surprised entering a brim full train at any station on any moment of the day. Like the not that long ago build new airport Suvarnabhumi also this system seems to be outgrown her given clothes.
The government has built their own subway system and this time fully underground. One line so far running from the Hua Lamphong train station to Bang Sue also ending at the railways but on another alignment through the city with a possibility of interchange with the electric railway line to the airport. Works are in progress for the extensions. Whom who will visited the city of angles five years or more from now shall encounter a complete different situation at least one ticket for all the different modes of transportation available.
The Saphan (meaning bridge) Taksin (a former Thai king) Station became a bottleneck in a modern urban transport system. By the time of building not severe, a single track station as a terminus still suits the purpose. There’s absolutely no space available except for a double track just fitting in the gap between the two separate road lanes of the earlier build Taksin Bridge spanning the Chao Phraya River.
Subsequently the station was built on one of the tracks with the remark being temporarily. However, no one could have predicted precisely this station would become a popular and well used interchange between rail and water. As a terminus still not a problem because the interval between trains is far from the theoretical feasibility (90 seconds or even less). The extension to Wongwian Yai however, turn out the be a spoil-sport. Now it’s possible one sees a train towards the centre on the middle of the bridge waiting for the oncoming to Wongwian Yai, a most peculiar happening in urban railway land. This is Thailand as an old phrase says and lovely for the ones with another interest of just going from point A to B.
City of Angles delight for the time being because the situation is intolerable in terms of more trains and better transportation. Also Wongwian Yai will be a short existing terminal. To bad for them who wanted easily to board a ferry or tourist boat. An elevated walkway is proposed from the nearest station: Surasak. After decades of completely silence in Thai railway land things are on the move albeit confined to Krung Thep Maha Nakhon Amon Rattanakosin and more words to describe what in reality seems to be a little wonder. The big Mango is another nickname like in the past Venice of the East was embraced to express her variability but also the sensitiveness, something that will remain no matter what happens.

When the oncoming train passed the one to the city can enter the station.

Making the most out of space.

A platform needly build upon the track.

A sneaky way to enter the station, delights of urban development.

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About Robert von Hirschhorn

Author / Performer or in Dutch: schrijver / dichter
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