Southeast Asia’s biggest railway station opens to passengers

Iconic Hua Lamphong Station lights dim as new terminal comes online

Southeast Asia’s biggest railway station officially began operations yesterday, a potential new age of train travel in Thailand.

The cost of the new terminal, including the station, tracks and a connecting station for Bangkok’s mass transit system, was around US$1 billion (30 billion baht).

Officially, the station’s name is Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal, a name bestowed by the king, and the centre of some controversy. To most people, it will likely be known as Bang Sue Grand Station, after the part of Bangkok it’s in.

The name change is on hold after it a heavy backlash for its US$1 million (30 million baht) price tag. When His Majesty the King renamed Bang Sue Grand Station, “Krung Thep Abhiwat Central Terminal,” in September, many questioned the need to spend such an amount in taxpayers’ money.

Long-distance domestic and international trains will pass through the Southeast Asia’s biggest railway station. The first train out of the new station was bound for Sungai Kolok, on the border with Malaysia.

Hua Lamphong Station on the edge of Chinatown in the middle of the capital was Bangkok’s main terminal for years. The iconic station, with its high-ceilinged waiting room, will remain an Instagram classic forever.

The construction of the new terminal coincided with major projects expanding rail networks in Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia, largely spurred by China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative and its high-speed rail technology.

Passengers at Southeast Asia’s biggest railway station will encounter a four-story station covering almost 30 hectares (3.2 million square feet). Many are already familiar with the premises because its cavernous halls were used last year as the venue for a government Covid vaccination program.

Trains will come and go on 24 tracks at 12 platforms, with the station able to manage up to 40 trains at the same time, according to the government. At peak times it can handle up to 600,000 passengers per day, more than 10 times the capacity of Hua Lamphong station.

Thailand NewsTransport News

Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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