Thailand will next year complete the biggest rail station in Southeast Asia as part of its plans to upgrade the country’s public transport system and improve its international communications, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday.
The Bang Sue Grand Station is intended to is relieve Bangkok’s chronic traffic congestion and support the country’s role as a regional transport hub. It will replace Hua Lamphong, the capital’s main station at present.
Besides intercity trains, Bang Sue will also serve Bangkok’s metro, commuter and high-speed trains, and provide fast connections with Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, and U-Tapao international airports.
According to the ministry, the 220km route between Don Mueang, in the northern outskirts of Bangkok, and U-Tapao in Rayong province could be travelled in less than an hour.
Sino-Thai Engineering Construction began work on the structure of the station in 2013 and this has now been completed; work on its interior will be completed in time for the services to begin in 2021.
When complete, the 520ha station will be the largest in Southeast Asia. It will be four storeys high, with 12 platforms up to 600m long and 24 tracks. This will allow it to accommodate up to 40 trains at the same time, with a daily passenger capacity of 600,000, more than 10 times that of Hua Lamphong.
At least 30% of its area will be devoted to green spaces and it will be pollution-free since it will serve only electric trains.
Bang Sue Grand Station will be a stop for Thailand’s first high-speed train project, which will run between Bangkok to Nong Khai. The first phase, covering the 251km from Bangkok north to Nakhon Ratchasima, is under construction. The rest of the route linking Nakhon Ratchasima with Nong Khai will cover a distance of 356km.
Once completed, this project will enable travellers from Bangkok to reach the Laotian border in three hours, rather than 11 at present.
The ministry adds that this line will be extended to link with the rail line being built through Laos as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Another important high-speed link will be with U-Tapao airport, which is being expanded to serve the Eastern Economic Corridor (see further reading).
The Thai government also hopes to promote Bang Sue as a catalyst for developing a new central business district around the station.
Image: Bang Sue under construction in June (Poonpun2016/CC BY-SA 4.0)