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Rail transport in Thailand

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Rail transport in Thailand

Rail transport in Thailand
National railway SRT
Infrastructure company SRT
Major operators BTSC, BMCL
Ridership ?
System length
Total 4,346 kilometres (2,700 mi)
Electrified 80.55 km (50.05 mi) (rapid transit)
High-speed 0 km (0 mi)
Track gauge
Main 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in)
1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Meter gauge 4,346 kilometres (2,700 mi)
Standard gauge 80.55 km (50.05 mi) (rapid transit)
Third rail 51.95 km (32.28 mi) (BTS Skytrain and Bangkok Metro)
Overhead line 28.6 km (17.8 mi) (Suvarnabhumi Airport Link)
No. tunnels 7
Tunnel length 3.626 km (2.253 mi)
Longest tunnel 1.352 km (0.840 mi) (Khun Tan Tunnel)
Longest bridge 0.442 km (0.275 mi) (Rama VI Bridge)
Highest elevation 578m (Khun Tan Railway Station)

The railway network of Thailand is managed and operated by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT).


  • History 1
    • Issues 1.1
  • Operators 2
  • Network 3
    • Current lines 3.1
    • Future lines 3.2
    • Defunct lines 3.3
    • Rail links to adjacent countries 3.4
  • Rail transport in Bangkok 4
    • Greater Bangkok Commuter rail 4.1
    • Rapid transit systems 4.2
  • Rolling stock 5
    • State Railway of Thailand 5.1
    • BTS Skytrain 5.2
    • Bangkok Metro 5.3
    • Airport Rail Link 5.4
  • Infrastructure 6
    • Tracks 6.1
    • Railway stations 6.2
    • Bridges 6.3
    • Tunnels 6.4
    • Signalling 6.5
  • Future Plans 7
    • New SRT lines 7.1
    • Proposed new HSR routes 7.2
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Interest in rail transport in Thailand can be traced to when King Rama V was given a gift of a model railway from Queen Victoria.

SRT was founded as the Royal State Railways of Siam (RSR) in 1890. Construction of the Bangkok-Ayutthaya railway (71 km or 44 mi), the first part of the Northern Line, was started in 1891 and completed on May 23, 1892.

The Thonburi-Phetchaburi line (150 km or 93 mi), later the Southern Line, was opened on June 19, 1903.

The Northern Line was originally built as 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge, but in September 1919 it was decided to standardize on 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) meter gauge and the Northern Line was regauged during the next ten years. On July 1, 1951, RSR changed its name to the present State Railway of Thailand.

In 2005 SRT had 4,070 km (2,530 mi) of track, all of it meter gauge. Nearly all is single-track, although some important sections around Bangkok are double or triple-tracked and there are plans to extend this.


The SRT has long been popularly perceived by the public as inefficient and resistant to change. Trains are usually late, and most of its equipment is old and poorly maintained. The worst financially performing state enterprise, the SRT consistently operates at a loss despite being endowed with large amounts of property and receiving large government budgets; it reported a preliminary loss of 7.58 billion baht in 2010.[1] Recurring government attempts at restructuring and/or privatization throughout the 2000s have always been strongly opposed by the union and have not made any progress.[2][3]


All intercity rail transportation is managed by the State Railway of Thailand, a government agency responsible for rail infrastructure investment as well as freight and passenger services.

In Bangkok, the Skytrain is operated by Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Company Limited (BTSC) under a concession granted by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) but the investment for the structure and system were fully supported by BTSC.

The underground system is operated by Bangkok Metro Company Limited (BMCL), while whole project investments were shared by Mass Rapid Transit Authorities (MRTA) and BMCL, which all civil structures was provided by government sector and the system was provided by private sector (BMCL). The deal of contract between BMCL and MRTA are under the concession agreement for 25 years operation.


Thailand has 4,431 kilometers of meter gauge railway tracks not including mass transit lines in Bangkok. All national rail services are managed by the State Railway of Thailand. The four main lines are the Northern Line, which terminates in Chiang Mai, the Northeastern Line, which terminates at Ubon Ratchathani and the Lao border in Nong Khai Province, the Eastern Line, which terminates at the Cambodian border in Sa Kaeo Province, and the Southern Line, which terminates at the Malaysian border in Yala and Narathiwat Provinces.

Current lines

Description Established Length Stations Gauge
Bangkok-Ubon Ratchathani 1930 575 km (357 mi) about 300 Metre gauge
Bangkok-Nong Khai 1958 621 km (386 mi) about 100 Metre gauge
Nong Khai-Thanaleng, Laos 2009 6 km (3.7 mi) 2 Metre gauge
Kaeng Khoi-Bua Yai 1967 251 km (156 mi) about 60 Metre gauge
Bangkok-Chiang Mai 1926 661 km (411 mi) about 200 Metre gauge
Ban Dara-Sawankhalok 1910 29 km (18 mi) 3 Metre gauge
Bangkok-Taling Chan 1903 22 km (14 mi) 7 Metre gauge
Thonburi-Sungai Golok 1921 1,144 km (711 mi) about 450 Metre gauge
Hat Yai-Padang Besar, Malaysia 1918 45 km (28 mi) 3 Metre gauge
Khao Chum Thong-Nakhon Si Thammarat 1914 35 km (22 mi) 4 Metre gauge
Thung Song-Kantang 1913 93 km (58 mi) 5 Metre gauge
Ban Thung Pho-Khiri Rat Nikhom 1956 31 km (19 mi) 2 Metre gauge
Nong Pla Duk-Nam Tok (Burma Railway) 1944 130 km (81 mi) about 30 Metre gauge
Nong Pla Duk-Suphanburi 1963 78 km (48 mi) 2 Metre gauge
Bangkok-Aranyaprathet 1926 255 km (158 mi) about 100 Metre gauge
Makkasan-Mae Nam 1909 3 km (1.9 mi) 2 Metre gauge
Sam Sen-Phaya Thai (Chitlada Triangular Junction) 1936 3 km (1.9 mi) 2 Metre gauge
Chachoengsao-Ban Phlu Ta Luang 1989 123 km (76 mi) about 20 Metre gauge
Wongwian Yai-Maha Chai (Maeklong Railway) 1904 33 km (21 mi) 18 Metre gauge
Ban Laem-Maeklong (Maeklong Railway) 1905 33 km (21 mi) 15 Metre gauge

Future lines

Description Length Gauge Start Commission
Den Chai-Chiang Rai 325 km (202 mi) Meter gauge 2014 2017
Ban Phai-Nakhon Phanom 368 km (229 mi) Meter gauge 2015 2018-2019
Khiri Rat Nikhom-Phuket 300 km (190 mi) Meter gauge 2016 2019
Chumphon-Satun ?? Meter gauge ?? ??
AranyaprathetPoipet, Cambodia 6 km (3.7 mi) Meter gauge 2013(Fixed) 2015
Nam TokThanbyuzayat, Myanmar (Burma Railway) 285 km (177 mi) Meter gauge ??(Fixed) 2020
Songkla-Pak Bara ?? Meter gauge ??(half line Fixed,half line build) ??

Defunct lines

Description Established Length Gauge Cancelled
Hat YaiSongkhla 1913 30 km (19 mi) Meter gauge 1978
Nam TokThanbyuzayat, Myanmar (Burma Railway) 1944 285 km (177 mi) Meter gauge ??
BangkokSamut Prakan (Paknam Railway) 1893 21 km (13 mi) Narrow gauge 1960
Bang PhlatBang Bua Thong (Bang Bua Thong Railway) 1909 ?? Narrow gauge 1943
ChumphonKraburi (Kra Isthmus Railway) 1943 90 km (56 mi) Meter gauge 1945
Bung WaiBan Pho Mun 1930 7 km (4.3 mi) Meter gauge 1954
Nong KhaiTalat Nong Khai 1958 2 km (1.2 mi) Meter gauge 2008
Sungai GolokRantau Panjang 1921 3 km (1.9 mi) Meter gauge ??
Wongwian YaiPak Khlong San 1904 ?? Meter gauge 1961
AranyaprathetPoipet, Cambodia 1970 6 km (3.7 mi) Meter gauge 1974
Ban Phlu Ta LuangSattahip Port 1989 11 km (6.8 mi) Meter gauge ??
Tha RueaPhra Phutthabat (Phra Phutthabat Railway) 1902 20 km (12 mi) Narrow gauge 1947
PhetchaburiBang Thalu (Chao Samran beach Railway) ?? ?? Narrow gauge ??
Hua WaiTha Tako 1940 53 km (33 mi) Meter gauge 1967

Rail links to adjacent countries

Rail transport in Bangkok

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, King Rama V eagerly built a tram network for Bangkok by employing foreign engineers and technicians, especially Danish engineers. In fact, Bangkok had electric trams before Copenhagen. However, due to a lack of interest and maintenance the tram network was completely scrapped in 1968.

Greater Bangkok Commuter rail

Rapid transit systems

Bangkok is currently served by three rapid transit systems: the BTS Skytrain, the underground MRT and the elevated Airport Rail Link. Although proposals for the development of rapid transit in Bangkok had been made since 1975,[5] leading to plans for the failed Lavalin Skytrain, it was only in 1999 that the BTS finally began operation.

The M-Map details plans for additional rapid transit lines in Bangkok.

In addition to rapid transit and heavy rail lines, there have been proposals for several monorail systems, the most notable being a line linking Chulalongkorn University with Siam Square, to be funded by the BMA. In 2010 Grand Canal Land Company proposed a 600–800 metre line linking its properties on Rama IX Road with the Phra Ram 9 MRT Station, but failed to secure approval.[6][7]

Primary lines
Commuter rail SRT Dark Red Line Thammasat – Maha Chai
SRT Light Red Line Sala Ya – Taling Chan – Hua Mak
Airport Rail Link and extension Phaya Thai – Bang Sue – Don Mueang
Rapid transit Dark Green Line, extension of the BTS Sukhumvit Line Lam Luk Ka – Saphan Mai – Mo Chit – On Nut – Bearing – Samut Prakan – Bang Pu
Light Green Line, extension of the BTS Silom Line Yot Se – Taksin Bridge – Bang Wa
Blue Line, extension of the MRT Blue Line Bang Sue – Tha Phra, Hua Lamphong – Bang Khae – Phutthamonthon Sai 4
Purple Line Bang Yai – Rat Burana
Orange Line Taling Chan – Min Buri
Feeder lines
Monorail Pink Line Khae Rai – Pak Kret – Min Buri
Yellow Line Lat Phrao – Samrong
Brown Line Khae Rai – Bueng Kum
Grey Line Watcharaphon – Rama IX Bridge
Light Blue Line Din Daeng – Sathon

Development is divided into three stages, in addition to those lines already open or under construction:[8]

As of 2014
In service 81.28 kilometres (50.51 mi) ~28.93%
Under construction 98.62 kilometres (61.28 mi) ~35.36%
Planned more than 100 kilometres (62 mi) ~35.71%

Rolling stock

State Railway of Thailand

BTS Skytrain

Rolling stock of BTS Skytrain

The BTS Skytrain uses two variations of Electric Multiple Unit rolling stock. All operate on 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) track gauge (standard gauge). All trains have 4 doors on each side per car, an air-conditioning unit, and LCD monitors for public announcement and advertising. The power supply for all trains is at 750 V DC from the third rail.

Bangkok Metro

  • Bangkok MRT Blue Line: each train consists of two motor cars and a centre trailer car.[9]

Airport Rail Link

Siemens supplied nine Desiro Class 360/2 trainsets. The only significant difference from the UK units is a much larger air-conditioning pod on the roof, providing extra power to cope with the Thai climate. City services is operated by five three-car trains, and the Express services by four trainsets with a fourth car for check-in baggage. The first trains left Germany in September 2007, and testing in Bangkok began in March 2008.[10] On 15 May 2012 the Thai Cabinet approved a budget of 5.2 billion baht for the SRT to order 7 new, 4 car sets of Siemens Desiro rolling stock to be delivered by 2014.[11] However, as of June 2013 no order for new rolling stock had yet been placed. The Ministry of Transport was considering purchasing cheaper Chinese (CNR) or Spanish (CAF) rolling stock which would require changing the Siemens closed signalling system to an open system.[12]



Railway tracks with incomplete Bangkok Elevated Road and Train System Pillars near Ngam Wong Wan.

Most existing State Railway of Thailand lines use metre gauge, although standard gauge is used of rapid transit lines. As of 2013, approximately 4,346 km (2,700 mi) of track was in use throughout Thailand:

  • 4,346 km (2,700 mi) metre gauge (1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in));
  • 80.55 km (50.05 mi) standard gauge (1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)); and

Railway stations

About 450 stations.[13]


About 1,000 bridges.[14]


There are 7 railway tunnels in Thailand, amounting to a total length of 3.63 km (2.26 mi).


State Railway of Thailand uses colour light signals and semaphore signal

Future Plans

Mass transit routes in Bangkok are also set to be expanded. Excluding the already under construction extensions to the Skytrain, the Bangkok Metropolitan Government is planning a northern as well as western expansion of the Skytrain. The Central Government, through the State Railway of Thailand and Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand are also planning to build several new metro routes.

The Thai Government also has double tracking projects including a double tracking project in the works between Laem Chabang deep sea port and the Lad Krabang ICD. Also, in line with the Government's policy of reducing overall logistics costs in Thailand, there are plans to completely double track all the main lines in the country as well as upgrade track quality. The Government is also mulling a restructuring of the State Railway of Thailand and granting operating concessions to private freight operators. An international rail link has opened to Vientiane in Laos via Nong Khai and the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge. The 6 km 'missing link' on the Eastern line between Aranyaphratet and Poipet (Cambodia) is also being rebuilt with construction starting in late 2013 for completion in 900 days.[15]

New SRT lines

There are also plans to construct new railway routes:

  • 1) Chiang Rai in the North via Denchai Junction - 326 km, 77 billion baht. This route is currently under EIA evaluation,
  • 2) Ban Phai (on the Northeast line) - Roi Et - Mukdahan - Nakhon Phanom - 347 km, 42 billion baht. (Completing public consultations & final route evaluation by Oct 2014)
  • 3) Kanchanaburi - Dewei (Burma): 190 km. Route to be finalised.
  • 4) Phuket from Surat Thani,
  • 5) and to connect the Maeklong railway to the main lines.

Proposed new HSR routes

In October 2010, the Thai parliament approved initial proposals for a high speed rail network; 5 lines capable of 250 km/h would radiate from Bangkok.[16]

In March 2013, the transport minister revealed that only one company will be selected to run all high-speed train routes, scheduled to be operational between 2018 and 2019.[17] The first 86 km section from Bang Sue to Ayuthaya was planned to be tendered in late 2013. However, a 7 month political crisis involving the dissolution of parliament and an annulled February 2014 election culminated in a military coup in May 2014. Subsequently, in July 2014 the new military administration decided to defer all HSR plans and for the project to be decided by the next civilian government. (Elections are planned for October 2015).

See also


  1. ^ Chantanusornsiri, Wichit (23 January 2012). "State railway to finally account for assets and liabilities". Bangkok Post. 
  2. ^ Mahitthirook, Amornrat; Marukatat, Saritdet (22 December 2010). "Getting on track needs strong political will". Bangkok Post. 
  3. ^ Bowring, Philip (23 October 2009). "Thailand's Railways: Wrong Track". Asia Sentinel. Asia Sentinel. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "Neighbours to the west get closer | Bangkok Post: news". Bangkok Post. 2012-02-28. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  5. ^ Rujopakarn, Wiroj (October 2003). "Bangkok transport system development: what went wrong?". Journal of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies 5: 3302–15. 
  6. ^ "Developer puts Bangkok on track for nation's first monorail". Bangkok Post. March 7, 2010. Retrieved December 25, 2011. 
  7. ^ โมโนเรลแกรนด์คาแนลส่อวืด. Thansettakij (in Thai) (2628). 21–23 April 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  8. ^ ความก้าวหน้าโครงการ. Mass Rapid Transit Master Plan in Bangkok Metropolitan Region website (in Thai). Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning. Retrieved 16 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "Bangkok's first underground metro open". International Railway Journal. July 2004. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  10. ^ "Bangkok Desiro deliveries begin".  
  11. ^ [1] แอร์พอร์ตลิงก์ชงบอร์ดซื้อรถใหม่ 7 ขบวน 4.2พันล้าน เตรียมเข็นล็อตแรกปี57, Pracha News, 16 May 2012
  12. ^ [2] แพงเว่อร์คมนาคมรื้อ"ซีเมนส์"ดึง"จีน-ยุโรป"เสียบแอร์พอร์ตลิงก์, Pracha News, 18 June 2013
  13. ^ Railway stations in Thailand
  14. ^ "Railway bridges in Thailand records (Thai)". 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Thailand to negotiate with China on high-speed proposal - International Railway Journal". 2010-10-30. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  17. ^ Thai High-speed train completed

External links

  • High speed rail system in Thailand
  • Winchester, Clarence, ed. (1936), "Trains in Siam", Railway Wonders of the World, pp. 1364–1368  illustrated description of the Siamese railways in the 1930s
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