Before the introduction of low-cost air travel to Bangkok city, Bangkok Railway Station, locally referred to as Sathani Rotfai Krung Thep or Hua Lamphong, had been a primary transit for travellers exploring Thailand since its opening on the 25th June, 1916.
Its construction began in 1910, following King Rama V’s directives. In 1907, the King travelled to Germany and was inspired by the beauty of the Frankfurt Train Station. Because of this Hua Lamphong station has classical features that embrace De Stijl Dutch influences, such as two-toned and patterned skylights and curved roof that is adorned with stained glass based on a Mario Tamagno design. Mario was an Italian engineer and architect, renowned for designing Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall and the Neilson Hays Library.
Hua Lamphong is the main terminal to the eastern, north-eastern, southern and northern areas of Thailand. It is built to connect with the underground MRT system and boasts a distinct half-dome structure in an Italian neo-renaissance style. It is designed with a form similar to most government buildings and monuments, having been constructed during the same time as the parliament building and the Bank of Thailand Museum – also designed by Mario Tamagno.
Inside Hua Lamphong today
The Bangkok Railway Station depicts an interior layout and appearance that resembles that of the Frankfurt Train Station. Both feature a giant clock, open-air galleries for passengers and a half-dome façade. Hua Lamphong has 26 ticket booths, two electric display booths and 14 platforms, serving over 130 trains totaling nearly 60,000 passengers daily. Its entrance leads to the waiting and ticketing area, and the electronic information display boards for departures and arrivals. On the mezzanine and ground floors are shops and fast food outlets. Before purchasing a ticket, travellers are advised to get an understanding of the types of trains and seats available as there are a number of different options. Choosing first-class means enjoying air-conditioned travel and all seats are convertible to sleeping berths. Second class also has air conditioning, but not all seats can be converted to sleeping berths. In third class, some seats are air-conditioned while others are not. In 2019, the railway station celebrated its 103rd anniversary with a Google Doodle.
Take the Train in Thailand
In a city with over 8 million people, life is always on the move. The historic station of Hua Lamphong will soon be immortalized as a museum as Bangkok’s new station – Bang Sue Central station – is set to open at the end of 2020.
Photo credit: Sapunat Arunoprayote // Wikimedia // [link]