Change of Plan for Thonburi Station

Thonburi Station is part of every master plan as a terminus of the southern rails. In recent years it underwent a restoration and bridges leading to the area were built. However, the rail platforms have now been razed and the land around the station will be used for future expansion of the Siriraj Hospital. We have photos, the official announcement, and a full report of this story that does not appear in the local press.

Right: Platform areas at the station have been torn down.

The latest: Update on Thonburi Station - August 17, 2004



Left: The renovation model is still in the passenger hall. In the upper left are overpass bridges that have already been built to provide access to the area. Both the freight buildings (in the middle) and the tourism center (on the right by the klong), both obviously recently renovated, are now derelict, dirty and abandoned.

Guards informed us the tracks will now end at Bangkok Noi Station (870 away). Wisarut earlier looked into this: I found from the SRT website that some part of Thonburi station has to be demolished to make the way for the new Emergency Building for Siriraj Hospital.

Right: Interior of the spacious and well-proportioned main hall

A group of Thai and frang students were at the station taking photos of the area as part of a project to document abandoned buildings in Bangkok.



Left: The station itself is in excellent condition and overlooks the Chao Phraya River.

The plaque in front of that station reads: The Southern Railway Station - The southern railway station begins at Bangkok Noi so it is named "Bangkok Noi Railway Station" or officially called Thonburi Railway Station. In 1900 A.D., King Rama V removed the people who stayed in Bangkok Noi and the nearby Muslim mosque to build the southern railway. The King donated a piece of land on the opposite bank to build the new mosque "Unsorrizzunna." During World War II, the Japanese army used this station to be their base which was bombed by the Allied army that ruined all of the buildings. Field Marshal P. Pibulsongkram rebuilt the station (in) the same style--the European style. The southern railway starts from Bangkok Noi passing Nakornpathom, Petchaburi, Kanchanaburi and Lungsuan, Chumporn as the end of the route. Now the station is still preserved in good condition.

For another abandoned station, see the Songkhla to Hat Yai railroad & station

Right: The ticketing booths

Below: The sign says "Thonburi Station"



Earlier photos of the Thonburi Station

Reiner sent in these photos from April and May, 2003 when the station area was being used for location filming.

April 5, 2003 - Thonburi Station made to be Agra Station for the filming of Jackie Chan's Around the World in 80 Days.

(Photo: Reiner)

(Photo: Reiner)

April 5, 2003 - Train awaiting departure to Nam Tok.

(Photo: Reiner)

April 5, 2003 - Steam locomotive 850 used in the filming of Jackie Chan's Around the World in 80 Days.

(Photo: Reiner)

May 19, 2003 - Tourist information center ready to be opened (by October it was dismantled)

What happened at Thonburi Station? - Complied from reports by Wisarut Bholsithi, Reiner, and Ron Morris, December 2, 2003- December 8, 2003

Reiner writes: Last night I was shocked to find Thonburi station decommissioned. Did anybody know about this development? Did any of the papers report it? What happened to all the wonderful plans, partly invested into by considerable restoration works into the historic station building and the old goods sheds, to create an historic side, integrating the royal barge museum on the opposite side of Klong Bangkok Noi?

The SRT website reports that parts of Thonburi Station have to be demolished to make the way for the new Emergency Building for Siriraj Hospital and the terminal has been moved to Bangkok Noi Stop (870 meters from the original terminal) since it is closer to Arun Amarin Road (the road in front of Siriraj Hospital).

The Official Announcement from SRT
September 25, 2003 - Thonburi Station Ceased to Exist on October 4, 2003 so as to make the way to transfer of 33-rai of SRT land to Siriraj Hospital on October 7, 2003. Therefore, The last Station Master of Thonburi Station will become the first Station Master of Bangkok Noy Station after October 4, 2003.

The station building and park will remain
Even though Thonburi Station ceases to exist to make the land available for the new emergency building of Siriraj Hospital (the first and biggest hospital in Thailand), the actual building will be preserved. The park in front of Thonburi Station and the pier along Bangkok Noy canal will also remain. The station master will live in an air-conditioned temporary office until SRT receives the budget to handle Bangkok Noy Station.

People living nearby
Housing for SRT workers and officers is closer to Bangkok Noy Station than Thonburi Station. Some of those who work in Thonburi Locomotive Depot have used the derelict bogeys as well as the dilapidated locomotives (Henchel Diesel locomotives) as either resting places or temporary housing. Stray dogs as well as the dogs owned by SRT workers run around the depot since SRT has set up the Bangkok Noy Railway Market (a new market to replace Sala Namron Market).

Bangkok Noi Station and Sala Namron Market
Bangkok Noi station (which replaces Thonburi Station) was built to force the occupants of Sala Namron market to move to the new market and to allow the supposedly temporary withdrawal of trains from the Thonburi Station, thus depriving the market of much of their business. Once that was accomplished, the trains returned to Thonburi Station.
The cession of Thonburi Station has effectively forced merchants and hawkers form Sala Namron Market to the new market. Sala Namron had been illegally set up for about 25 years with mafia protection form those in military uniforms. Thus SRT has full rights to evict those merchants and hawkers and send them to live in the new designated place.

History of Thonburi Station
The station was opened in 1900. During WWII, Allied forces bombed Thonburi Station into rubble and the original building was destroyed. Especially on the fateful night on March 5, 1945 when the bomb killed several patients in Siriraj Hospital. The station was rebuilt in 1950.

History of Bangkok Noi Canal
Bangkok Noy canal is the former Chaophraya River until Somdej Phrachairachathiraj of Ayudhaya ordered the digging of the shortcut canal around 1529 from the area which is now Thammasart University Hospital to the area which his now Fort Wichaiprasit and become the main line of the Chaophraya River.

History of the surrounding park
The park around the Thonburi Station was authorized by the SRT board. It was created and restored for 6-Cycle Jubilee of His Majesty in 1999 and was paid for by Unilever Thai Holding PCL.

The famous Thonburi Station sign
What happened to the "expensive" wooden station sign from Thonburi Station that was displayed at Parliament during the censor debate in May of 2003? It was used to deflect charges of corruption from Transport Minister Suriya and its surprise unveiling left the opposition stunned. We wonder who has the sign now.
GOVT COUNTER-ATTACK: Bt150,000 sign points at Pradit - The Nation, May 30, 2003
Give public the answers, orders PM - The Nation, May 31, 2003

No mention of the Thonburi Station closure in the Thai press?
It appears that local newspapers did not report when Thonburi Station was closed for good. They just mentioned the new terminal at Bangkok Noi as well as the conflict between merchants at Sala Namron. Bangkokbiznews (a Thai-language Business newspaper owned by the Nation Group) condemned those merchants at Sala Namron by saying the merchants told a lie to the public to protect their own vested interests and that Sala Namron Market should never exist in the first place. We will be interested to see see who will be the contractor of that new Siriraj Emergency Building.

Thonburi Station building may not be the original one, but still it is historic and has quite recently been extensively restored. It might survive as a historic relic, but it seems the station as such is gone forever--against all previous planning which had it integrated.
Arun Amarin Road is about equidistant to Thonburi and Bangkok Noi stations and as congested as Bangkok roads can be. Bangkok Noi station had been built only recently in connection with the arguments over the old market which had now finally been removed. The trains subsequently duly returned to their original terminus right next to Tha Rotfai ferry pier. How are ordinary passengers supposed to catch the trains, including tourists to Kanchanaburi? This is a similar mistake to one committed by Gen Prapass in 1961 when the Meklong Line was cut back from Klong San to Wong Wien Yai - away from the then only reliable and predictable transport artery in Bangkok, the Chao Phraya River.

Odds and ends around the site
Mikado locomotives 950 and 953 are in the area. No. 953 is well maintained. No. 950 does not work and apparently is used as spare parts for 953.
Many of the rails for the defunct Thoburi Station were produced in 1953 and had begun to rust away.
On April 5, 2003, Thonburi Station was used in filming of "Around the World in 80 Days." It was supposed to be "Agra Station." Japanese-built "Pacifics" locomotive 850 was used in the film as well.

Transportation to the area
Pickup buses No. 1018 (Rotfai - Samyaek Fai Chai) and No. 1475 (Rotfai - Talingchan) still terminate at Rotfai Pier and bus number 1475 is one of a few buses that reaches Bangkok Noy Station (thus no problem on transferring the passengers from Rotfai Pier to Bangkok Noy station). BMTA Bus No 83 passes by Bangkok Noy Station, thanks to the road parallel with the railway track even though it still terminates at Wat Amarin (the temple closest to Thoburi Station and Siriraj Hospital - razed into pile of rubble at the same time Thoburi Station was bombed - only a little Ubosot survived).

Changes in schedules
December 15, 2003 - Ceased: Commuter line 351/352 (Bangkok Noy - Nakhon Pathom)
Substitute: Commuter Line 351/352 (Bangkok Noy - Ratchaburi)
Bangkok Noy Ratchaburi
Commuter 351: 17:38 19:50
Commuter 352: 06:40 04:30

Transformed: Ordinary 253/256-> Rapid 177/178 (Bangkok Noy Lang Suan)
Bangkok Noy Lang Suan
Rapid 177: 19:15 04:35 (New Day)
Rapid 178: 04:35 (New Day) 19:55

Rapid 177/178 will park for 1 minute at Charansanitwongse Stop, Wat Ngiw Rai Station and Ta Plee Station.

Commuter 355/356 (Bangkok - Suphanburi) will park at Talingchan Junction.

Note about Chaophraya Express Boat
Due to the higher congestion of river traffic, here are new boat routings:

N6 (Memorial Bridge) N6 (Bangkok Side) -> for going upstream to Nonthaburi
N6 (Thoburi side) -> for going downstream to Wat Ratchasingkorn
N10 (Siriraj Hospital) N10 (Wang Lung) -> for Going downstream to Ratboorana
N10 (Prannok) -> for going upsteam to Nonthaburi
N13: This one is renamed as "Phra Athit Pier" -> from Bang Lamphoo Pier

There is a thread on this at the forum.

Local press reports on Thonburi Station - January 9, 2004 was the first to report on December 2, 2003 that demolition was going on around the newly renovated Thonburi Station. We also were first to report that the station are was being given to Siriraj Hospital. Finally this is being reported in the local press (translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Matichon, January 6, 2004):
SRT is transferring the area around old Thonburi Station for medial hub. On January 5, 2004, Premier Thaksin headed a ceremony to transfer SRT land to Siriraj Hospital to construct Siriraj Medical Hub. Minister Suriya, SRT Director, and Dean of Siriraj Medical School Department were in attendance. Siriraj Hospital will construct new medical facilities to function as a medical center for both the Royal Family and other people.
Even though Siriraj Hospital possesses 70 rai of land, it is stretched to the limit since the hospital has to take care of more than 6000 patients a day. Therefore, the major expansion is necessary. The expansion will help the hospital to become a major medical institute in Southeast Asia since the new facilities will help Siriraj Medical School produce more doctors and nurses as well as medical personnel and medical researchers. The expansion will cover the old Thonburi Station area with a total area of 33 rai, 2 ngan and 94 square wah (total 13,494 sq meters).
Professor Dr. Piyasakol Sakolsatyathorn (Dean of Siriraj Medical School) said the construction of Siriraj Medical Hub will be three billion baht. The design will be started in February 2004, the construction will be started in August 2004 and it will be done in 3 years.

Update on the 'new' Thonburi Station - January 19, 2004

Right: Bangkok Noi station is renamed "Thonburi Station." The two signs at either end of the platform are covered by linen sheets with "Thonburi Station" painted on them. The others still show "Bangkok Noi."

(Photo: Reiner)
The following report is compiled from information from Reiner, Wisarut, and Ron: SRT has officially transferred the land to Siriraj Hospital on January 5, 2004 so that Siriraj can construct a new medical center to allow major expansion of the hospital to become a major medical institute in southeast Asia to rival medical institutes in Singapore. Siriraj Hospital will design a new medical center by February 2004 so that the construction can start in August 2004 and be done in 2007. The Dean of Siriraj Hospital Medical School said they are going to preserve the Thonburi Station building and they are going to deal with the area around Thonburi station by creating a small park for the patients as well as the physicians to relax after tedious work.

There is a giant sign opposite Bangkok Noy Station (near Wat Chimplee Thayikaram) that says "Great Sacrifice for Extending the Life of Everybody!" and a drawing of the proposed medical center with a surrounding park. This implies that SRT has to sacrifice the important terminal for the new medical center. Someone has put ropes around the station with signs that say "Dangerous Area!" and "Ceremony Process Held!" Hopefully it means an exorcism will be held and not demolition of the station. Typically the government "asks" SRT to "donate" the land for public goods like the hospital construction as well as the local road from Chiangmai to Lamphun and around Chatuchak Park.

(Photo: Reiner)
Left: Where else but on would you find this: Reiner has located the 'expensive' Thonburi Station signs used to embarrass the opposition in the censure debate of May 2003

Reiner visited the Bangkok Noi/Thonburi station on January 2 and found the following:
- Because of the long weekend, the situation was moderately chaotic, both outside the station (tuktuks, songteows, taxis, cars, motorcycles delivering passengers to the 07:20 Lang Suan and the no. 257 07:45 Nam Tok trains vying for space with the market traffic between the market and the station).
- The Nam Tok train was composed 12 cars, 3 of which exceeded the length of the platform.
- Double track operation now begins a little south of Ban Champli only, leaving the sector from Bangbamgru were it previously began (including Taling Chan) again single-track. Signals seem installed, but not yet operating. Safety is ensured by the time-honoured token-system. The entire new track is unsignalled and that is why tokens are used (AKA 'Fish tails' in Thai SRT jargon). SRT has not finished training SRT workers to operate the modern signals yet. Training will be done in 2006.
-The engines at Thonburi were 1980-built Alsthom/Henschel/Krupp, no.4210 replacing no. 4214.

Right: Weekend rush at the new Thonburi Station (formerly Bangkok Noi Station)

(Photo: Reiner)

For the case of Siriraj Hospital, the new medical center will be limited by Arun Amarin Bridge and Arun Amarin Road (the western border of old Thonburi Station and Siriraj Hospital - in front of the new Thonburi Railway station). Wat Amarin remains intact--otherwise, Siriraj Hospital has to pay heavy compensation the abbot and trustee of Wat Amarin to construct a new temple.

(Photo: Reiner)
Left: Three cars of a 12 car train do not have platform access.

(Drawing: Siriraj Hospital)

Official explanation of what will happen to the former Thonburi Station area - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from the Mahidol website
The area of Thonburi Station which SRT and MOTC transferred to Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital is due to the cabinet resolutions of May 26, 2003 and September 16, 2003 which asks the Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital to come up with the Siriraj Hospital Development Project for a Southwest Asia Medical Center. This project has been backed by Premier Thaksin Shinnawatra and Minister Suriya Jungrungruengkij. Thonburi Station Area is 33 rai, 2 ngan, 94 square wah (53,976 sq meters) on the bank between the Chao Phraya River and Bangkok Noy Canal. The area transferred also includes Thonburi Station main building.
The Faculty of Medicine is going to develop this area to connect with the Siriraj Hospital area while preserving the essence of the area, the connections from inside to the outside, land usage, people who live around this area, and local customs so that this area will have benefits for both local people as well as the people from all parts of Thailand. This project will consist of 5-6 new buildings to be finished in 3 years.
This project will have the following main principles to meet government policy and mission:
1. Center of Excellence in Biomedical Research to create new medical knowledge for sustainable development such as molecular, biogenetic and post genomic medical research and enhancement for medical care.
2. Center of Excellence in Medical Care through the expansion and medical service enhancement of Siriraj Hospital to be able to compete on the international level and enable it to take care of patients from all classes as well as foreigners to achieve a Center of Excellence in Medical Care in Southeast Asia.
3. Siriraj Medical Museum as a source of great medical knowledge--collecting traditional Thai medicine for educational proposes and for tourism for children, people, and foreigners.
4. Center of Advanced Geriatrics and Gerontology along with data collecting and propagation of knowledge to the society at large to improve healthcare, prevention, medical treatment, and rehabilitation of the aged.
5. Center of Medical Information and Communication Technology--using Technology to develop medical science, facilitate research, improve service, create a medical database, and connect with provincial and international medical institutes.
6. Center of Applied Thai Traditional Medicine to produce high quality personnel on traditional Thai medicine with R & D on traditional Thai medicine to be acceptable on the international level.
7. Royal Park with herbs, walkway along the river, the pier and preserved Thonburi Station Building. The Faculty of Medicine will improve the existing park into a complete park with herbs to create a green area for patients and visitors to relax and for educational proposes.
This Thonburi Station area will connect with the existing area of 77 rai to create a Center of Excellence with efficient management and state of the art single systems applied to all sections of Siriraj Hospital. After finishing the construction of the new buildings, Siriraj Hospital will be able to make a giant leap forward to reach excellence as a regional medical center.
The Faculty of Medicine will also start to plan and develop the existing area including the improvement of OPDs, pathway improvement, green area improvement, and research projects on the vaccine for dust mite allergies, prototype virus for producing the vaccine for dengue fever, Thallassemia project, Cardiovascular Center and Clinical research management unit.
After the official transfer of SRT area to Siriraj Hospital for free on January 5, 2004 to support this project for the Center of Medical Excellence, the Faculty of Medicine will preserve Thonburi Station building as a museum building and the Tourism Authority will develop the tourist pier for the tourists from the Grand Palace, the mouth of Bangkok Noy canal, Siriraj Hospital Museum, Railway Museum, the Royal Barges, Wat Amarinthararam (the temple next to Siriraj Hospital), Bangkok Noy Railway Market, and tourists who go along Bangkok Noy canal.
The area along Bangkok Noy canal connecting with Chao Phraya River is an area with a very good view, thus the project has been designed with a view of the river with well-planned system engineering and infrastructure systems. This will enhance the quality of life for patients, the physicians and visitors.
The development of SRT land is the significant cooperation between the different bureaucratic offices. Both SRT and Siriraj Hospital have been founded by King Chulalongkorn, thus the government and the directors of both departments cooperate to fulfill the wishes of King Chulalongkron and the current HM The King.

The latest: Update on Thonburi Station - August 17, 2004

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