Timeline of Bangkok Trams

Tram Overview

The total distance (Lines 1 through 7): 42 km
Pak Nam Railway: 21 km
Total Distance of electric mass transit line: 63 km

A tram car was 2 x 8 meters and driven by 40-60 HP motor. The local made trams were made from teak instead of aluminum as in the imported version. (from Lokbaimai Environmental Monthly Magazine - Vol. 8 No.87, Sept, 1996)

Tram route map circa 1968 (54KB) - courtesy of Ric Francis

The timeline of Bangkok Trams
September 22, 1888 - Mr. Alfred John Loftus (AKA Phraya Nithetcholthee) opens a horse-drawn tramway line from City Pillar to Thanon Tok
Circa 1888-90 - Ownership transferred to Bangkok Tramways Co. Ltd.- a British company
May 23, 1892 - Ownership transferred to a Danish company
April 11, 1893 - Pak nam Railway opened for service
May, 1894 - Opens for service as an electrified tramway with Belgian and German rolling stock and electric power from Siam Electricity Co. Ltd. - a Danish public utility company - the street cars were painted yellow
November, 1900 - Merged with Siam Electricity Co. Ltd. to become a subsidiary company
September, 1901 - Samsen-Hua Lamphong line opened, powered by Bangkok Electric Light Syndicate Co. Ltd. (later on Samsen Power Plant)
October 1, 1905 - Bang Lamphoo - Hua Lamphong line opens for service with a royal opening ceremony performed by King Chulalongkorn - this line was controlled by Siamese Tramways Co. Ltd. founded by Prince Narathip Pongpraphan
February 1, 1908 - Bangkok Tramways Co.Ltd. becomes a major shareholder of Siamese Tramways Co. Ltd.
May 5, 1927 - Merged Siamese Electricity Co. Ltd. with Siamese Tramways Co. Ltd. to form Siam Electricity Corporation
September 28, 1939 - Name changes to Thai Electricity Corporation
January 1, 1950 - Nationalized to Bangkok Municipal and the Department of Civil Works, Ministry of Interior runs the services
December 19, 1961 - Cabinet Resolution states that all Bangkok tramways must close for good
1965 - Samsen line closed (from Lokbaimai Environmental Monthly Magazine - Vol. 8 No.87, Sept, 1996)
October 1, 1968 - for City Circle closed (from Lokbaimai Environmental Monthly Magazine - Vol. 8 No.87, Sept, 1996)
1965 - Wat Liab Power Plant closed
October 1, 1968 - Bangkok Tramway ceases operation - see here

Odds and Ends
    Part of the abandoned tramway rails can still be seen on New Road (around Charoenkrung Soi 39 or so).
    The last tram sign (a triangular red sign with 3 stars in the middle) is in the Saphan Lek (iron bridge) area near Werng Nakhon Khasem (Thieves Market).
    If you go to the Railway Hall of Fame in Chatuchak Park, you can see a lot more about the tramway.
    Railways in Thailand published by White Lotus is a good source to find out about Bangkok Tramway since the book has some sections mentioning it.
    In the past, we called the tramways either rot tram (literally 'tram cars') or rot ai (literally 'cars with the steam of sweat due to the heat from the way people are packed like sardines inside').

The End of the Line

After termination of tram service in 1968, the Metropolitan Electric Authority transferred tram workers who still wanted to work to its other operations. Those who wanted to leave MEA were granted three months' salary plus bonus. The steel rails were sold to junk yards for 50 satang a kilogram (then US$25 per metric ton). The rolling stock was sold at 8000 baht a set (then US$400). The copper wires that powered the trams were kept as spare parts for MEA operations if they were larger than a thumb.

From MEA News (1957-1968):
1) Bang Krabue line (Bang Krabue - Sam Yaek) discontinued around January 1962
2) Bangsue Tram line (Bangkrabue - Bang Sue) discontinued around April 1962 (with 5 tram cars in Bang Krabue depot sold to write off debts)
3) Hua Lamphong line (Hua Lamphong - Giant Swing - Bang Lamphoo)
discontinued around May 1962
4) Silom line (Pratoonam Pier - Saladaeng) discontinued around June 1962
5) Yotse line (Yotse Intersection - Ratchaprasong Intersection) discontinued July 1962
6) Samsen line (Sathon - Sam Yaek) discontinued around October 1962
7) Bangkholaem line (Saphan Lek Lang - City Pillar) around December 1962
8) Bang Kho Laem line (Thanon Tok - Saphan Lek Lang) discontinued around July 1963
9) City Circle (from Thewet - Saphan dam) discontinued July 1963
10) City Circle (from Wang Boorapha to Wat Liab) discontinued around October 1963
11) City Circle (from National Theater to Ban Maliwan [Phra Athit House, Phra Athit Road]) discontinued around December 1963 cutting the City Circle into two unconnected routes
(11.1)The Outer Loop -> Saphan Dam to National Museum (6 cars) and (11.2) the Inner Loop -> Thanon Phra Athit - Wang Boorapha (3 cars). The other 10 cars were stored as spare parts at Wat Liab and Sapahn Dam.
12) City circle -> the last two unconnected routes were discontinued on October 1, 1968.

* Siam Electricity Co. Ltd. began the power distribution from Wat Liab Power plant to Paknam and Phrapadaeng in 1924.
* Atsadang and Ratchawongse feeder lines were probably opened around 1906-7 since they appeared in 20th Century Impressions of Siam (published in 1908), but King Chulalongkorn had not approved such feeders in 1905. Atsadang and Ratchawongse feeder lines were discontinued probably around 1927-34 since the Bangkok Map (published by Royal Military Survey in 1937) did not show the feeder lines up at all.
The Chinese merchants in Yaowarat said in 1927 that the Ratchawongse feeder line should be discontinued so that they could park their motorcars and enjoy big meals in the first class Chinese restaurants in that area.
* In 1934, Siam Electricity Corporation ran the blue bus service from Ratchawognse pier to Golden Mountain, but not for very long.
* Sukhothai line was constructed probably around 1913 from the pier at Wat Kwid (behind the Sukhotahi Palace) to Vajira Hospital (opened in 1913) to help those who lived in Bang Plad and Bang Or (Thonburi) and along Samsen canal to use medical services. The Sukhothai feeder line was discontinued in 1951.

After December 1963, the City Circle became two unconnected lines. The first section ran from Saphan Dam Depot (now MEA Office at Saphan Dam) to Thaharn Asa Monument (near the National Museum). The second section ran from Ban Maliwan (Thanon Phra Athit) to Wang Boorapha (near Kamol Sukosone Store).
Dusit Line and City circle merged into one line in 1944 after the construction of Osathanon Bridge across the 2nd City Moat.
A few months after the termination of Bangsue Line in early 1962, Bang Krabue Line was shortened from Bangrabue Intersection to Sam Yaek office. The other section (from Sam Yaek office to Sathorn Intersection) was terminated around October 1962.
From "Khao Karn Fai Fah" (MEA News) - a journal of MEA: In 1926, the section from Wat Thewarat Kunchorn to See Sao Thewet was discontinued. In 1944 (during WWII), the Dusit tram line and City Circle tram line were merged into a single line by the route readjustment after the construction of Osathanone Bridge near Wat Bophitphimuk (a temple opposite to Wat Liab Power Plant, on the eastern side of the 2nd city moat - AKA Klong Rob Krung or Klong Ong Ang).
1958: The section from Rat Prasong Intersection - Soi Ruenrudee (opened in 1950) discontinued due to unpopularity.
1961: Bang Krabue - Bangsue line discontinued.
1962: Last section of Samsen line (from Sathorn Intersection to Hua Lamphong Market - near Odien Circle) -> discontinued.

Links
Old Trams and Trains of Thailand - This page has a few excellent photos of the Bangkok tram and train lines of the past. The site's main page, Tram Views of Asia, has links to rare photos of old tram systems in Burma, Ceylon, Pakistan, Siberia, Syria, etc.
Related
Thailand Railway Hall of Fame
Brief History of Paknam Railway

This entry was posted in Trams. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>