Thailand from the train

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‘The roaring of a rural station’

Bang Saphan Yai; 376 Km from Bangkok that’s to say when starting from the Thonburi station on the other side of the Chao Phraya River. Prachuab Khiri Khan province, here you descend if you’re longing for a beach holiday away from any crowd. However, where you’ve just landed is not near that beach but before heading there have a stroll to the tiny settlement embracing the station in the way it has been for ages.
Time is on your side, this seems to be Thailand still being deprived of modernity though the signs are there. Today’s convenient stores with the so desired products and mostly far from healthy but who cares?
The main economical successor in the region is a steal-factory without any connection with the State Railway. Lorries loaded with rolls of thin steel – mainly for the auto industry – slowly ridding through town. A special harbour was build for unloading heavy bars of solid steel and transported to the plant to be manipulated into more manageable proportions. In this industrial landscape any rail would have fitted well especially between dock and plant for the pure product but also low loaders filled with rolls of steel (end product) wouldn’t misfit the railways either, it’s only a matter of a short side spur and traffic through town would be minimized moreover most of the produce leave by ship probably the same one who brought the raw material.
This reminds me on a story about superfluous transport on the continent of Europe. Two lorries both loaded with tomatoes, one going from Holland to Italy and the other one vice versa meet each other somewhere in the Swiss Alps. Not once; this happened daily and maybe still happens with the same or other products. A ship from England filled with potatoes has docked in Amsterdam harbour. After unloading the merchandise it disappeared into a warehouse and be repacked in new gunny bags, stamped: made in Holland and hence reloaded in the waiting ship for the return sail to England.
I do not say all the steelwork’s transport is needless but certainly prone to improvement. Industrial railways in Thailand seem to be a changeling.
The joy of a station on the main line to the South, a more superior infrastructure compared where I am living in the North but it’s said: next year the upgrade will take place. Not much of a joy actually unless you’re an admirer of silence also in terms of movement, during daylight there’s not much. Most interprovincial trains from Bangkok with Southern destinations – some under war circumstance these days * – passes in the late hours and the way around during the night time. In the morning there’s the ability going to Bangkok by local train stopping on almost every intermediate station. Train ordinary 254 departs 08.45 and arrives 16.10 at the remote situated Thonburi station; an enjoyable ride third class only in seven hours and twenty five minutes that’s to say without any delay hardly the case these days for most lines and services. Furthermore the station seen, it’s seen and doesn’t ask for a frequent repeating in case you should live here something that might be a near future question, another Thailand from the train. Even in Chiang Mai the times I went to the station daily to see what’s on the sleeve are gone, there’s no need any longer, all tracks and movements are sharply pressed in memory.

* Beyond Hat Yai the line towards Yala and further southwards to Sungai Kolok at the Malaysian board.
Picture above: Diesel locomotive 4130 (series: 4101-54 Alsthom 1974-75) with local train Nº 255 (Bangkok-Thonburi – Lang Suan) arrives for a brief stop at Bang Saphan Yai on March 29. The bird I didn’t see when shooting but a wonderful coincident captured in flight. The pictures beneath give an impression of the joy including the gatekeeper’s lodge and the exact data of the location.

42.52.063

42.50.061

42.54.066

42.53.065

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About Robert von Hirschhorn

Author / Performer or in Dutch: schrijver / dichter
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