Tramway-Related Companies

Profiles of companies involved in Thai mass transit in the past
The Siam Electricity Company Ltd.
Bangkok Electricity Authority
The Siamese Tramway Company, Ltd.
The Menam Motor Boat Company, Ltd.
The Mae Klong Railway
The Paknam Railways

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Transit history notes: Foreigner owners, the Siam Electricity Company, and share prices - September 27, 2005

Wisarut provides these transit history notes: By 1925, Belgian businessmen (Messr. Jadot, etc.) had control of two-thirds of the Siam Electricity Company. The other one-third was controlled by the Crown Property Bureau even though most workers in Siam Electricity Co. Ltd. were Siamese (the Chinese workers were the majority [80%] in the tram rolling stock maintenance unit in Siam Electricity Co. Ltd. and the Danes controlled the management section).
The company wanted to reduce the share price to reduce its liabilities. After Siam Electricity Company changed its name to Siam Electricity Corporation on May 5, 1927, the share price of the company was slipped down. The company wished that after changing its name from Siam Electricity Corporation to Thai Electricity Corporation on September 28, 1939, the company would be allowed to reduce its share price from 50 baht per share in September 1939 to 25 baht per share. However, the government prohibited the company from doing so after changing its name to prevent further damage to shareholders (such as the Crown Property Bureau) due to share depreciation.
Siam Electricity Co. Ltd. (one of shareholders in Paknam Railway Co. Ltd.) helped the company to install the electric tram and run the service. Therefore, Siam Electricity Co. Ltd. had to pay the lease of the line to Paknam Railway at the rate of 3,000 baht a month so as to run the electric tram services without problems with other Paknam Railway shareholders.

The Siam Electricity Company Ltd. 
from Twentieth Century Impressions of Siam, Arnold Wright and Oliver T. Breakspear, 1908

Bangkolem - Car miles run
Bangkolem - Receipts, Ticals
Samsen - Car miles run
Samsen - Receipts, Ticals
 Started in September
 Started in September
Increase in previous 7 years
Increase last year

Many of those duties and responsibilities usually associated with municipal enterprise are in Bangkok undertaken by the Siam Electricity Company--a company of Danish origin, in which Danish capital is principally employed. They contract with the Government to water certain of the streets; they supply the whole of the city with electric light, own and operate one-half of the tramways, besides being largely interested in the Siamese Tramway Company, which controls the Dusit, Hualampong, and City Wall lines, and, in addition, are responsible for equipment and maintenance of a fire brigade.

To trace the company's growth would be but to sketch the career of the chairman and general manager, Mr. Aage Westenholz, who on account of his energy, powers of organisation, and financial ability is entitled to a most worthy tribute. Mr. Aage Westenholz was born in Denmark in 1859, and educated at the Polytechnical High School in Copenhagen, from which institution he graduated as a civil engineer, and after a few years of European practice came to Siam in 1886. For some time he interested himself in business on his own account, and constructed a horse tramway in Bangkok, of which he was appointed manager.

An electrification of the system followed, but shortly after this Mr. Westenholz severed his connection with the company he had thus far steered in safety, and once more interested himself in private civil engineering work until he took over the management of the then existing Electric Light Company, in which position he remained until the amalgamation of this company with the Tramways Company, from which stage the concern was known as the Siam Electric Company, Ltd. In the war of 1893 against the French, Mr. Aage Westenholz enlisted as volunteer in the Siamese Army, and was present at the battle of Paknam. Previous to his taking over the management of the Siam Electric Company, Ltd., the concern was not in a very flourishing state. Its present-day value, however, may be gauged by the fact that its concession from the Siamese Government extends until 1950.

The first and principal branch of the company's work is that of electric lighting. By an agreement, dated November 9, 1901, the Government undertake to consume 50,000 units of current from the company in each calendar month such supply to be entirely for the use of the Government and not for sale or transfer to private persons for the purpose of lighting in streets and buildings is supplied from central power station, situated in the middle of the distributing area. We are indebted to officials of the company for the following particulars and details of the contents of this huge building. The engine and boiler room at the power station are iron-constructed buildings separated with a heavy brick wall. The floor is concrete, so the whole construction is made as fireproof as possible. In the boiler-room are installed eleven Babcock and Wilcox boilers are adapted for paddy husk or liquid fuel, and others for coal or liquid fuel. The husk, which is chiefly used, is supplied to the boilers by means of a screw conveyer.

The machinery in the engine-room includes--

I. For lighting (2,050 volts, single phase, alternate current, 100 complete cycles per minute):--
Four 100-kw. generators of Mordey's type, rope-driven by Brush compound vertical engines, to which the exciters (65 v.) are connected.
Two 343-kw. Siemens-Halske generators directly connected to Burmeister & Wain triple-expansion vertical engines with exciters placed at end of the main shafts.
One 180-kw. General Electrical Company (Schenectady) generator, directly connected to a Belliss & Morcom compound engine, exciter on main shaft.
One 4-cylinder Burmeister and Wain Diesel motor, directly connected to a 150-kw. generator, exciter on main shaft.
One 150-kw. Brown-Boveri motor generator for the purpose of utilising the tramway machinery as a reserve in case of breakdowns in the lighting plant,

2. For tramways (500-550 volts direct current):--
One 50-kw. short dynamo, belt-driven by a Ball & Woods horizontal compound engine.
One 135-kw. Siemens-Halske dynamo, belt-driven by a Ball & Woods horizontal compound engine.
One 200-kw. Westinghouse dynamo, belt-driven by a Ball & Woods, horizontal compound engine.
One 200-kw. General Electrical Company (Schenectady) dynamo, directly connected to a Ball & Woods horizontal compound engine.
One 200-kw. Dick, Kerr & Co. dynamo, directly connected to a Browett, Lindley & Co's compound engine.
One 500-kw. General Electrical Company (Schenectady) dynamo, driven by a Curtis vertical steam turbine.
Within a year the company will have to add considerable units to their machinery both for lighting and tramways.

The switchboards erected in the engine-room are made of marble for the 2,030-volt alternate current and of slate for the 500-volt direct current.

The alternating current for light and power is distributed over the town by twelve different circuits fitted with automatic switches. There are ten circuits for tramways power, out of which six are for the company's own lines, 1-wheel. The whole distributing system consists of over-head wires fixed on wooden posts. At the  spot of consumption the alternating current is transformed to 100 volts. The amount of current consumed by customers is measured by meters at customers' residences. The company has at its premises a meter-testing department fitted with Siemens-Schuckert's newest instrument for this purpose.

The tramways of the Siam Electricity Company Ltd., are of a total length of 11.83 miles, single line with 46 sidings, divided into the following sections:--

 Bangkolem line 5.63 miles
 Samsen line 5.37 miles
 Asadang line 0.33 miles
 Rachawongs line 0.50 miles

The Bangkolem line runs from a point opposite the flagstaff at the royal palace through several minor streets in the city to Seekak Phya Sri, and thence along the entire length of New Road, the main artery of Bangkok, to Bangkolem Point on the River Menam. There is a very heavy traffic on this line, about 25,000 passengers being carried daily. It is extremely difficult to accommodate so many persons on a single line, but so far the Government authorities have not given their consent to a double line being laid, owing to the narrowness of the New Road. Trail cars, however, will soon be put in use and will relieve the difficulty.

The Samsen line connects the suburbs Bangkrabu and Samsen with the city, through which it runs to a point near the Paknam railway station, cutting the Bangkolem line at the Royal Barracks and Sam Yek.

The Asadang and Rachawongs lines connect landings on the river with the main lines. The rails are grooved, 79 lbs. per yard, joined with substantial fishplates and copper bonded. The over-head material consists of double hard drawn copper wire. No. oo, and overhead feeders. The system is divided in six feeder sections with automatic switches.

Excepting ten obsolete cars, most of the cars are of the General Electricity Company (Schenectady) make. Up to the present only single motor-cars of 25-37 h.p. have been used, but double motor-cars with trail-cars are now being introduced. The car bodies are of teakwood and constructed locally. There is accommodation for 126 cars in the company's three car-sheds while the workshop has room for 14 more.

The total daily car-mileage on the company's lines is 5,130 of which 2,617 are run on the Bangkolem line. The number of cars in daily traffic is 48. Great trouble has been taken by the management to assure exact time and to avoid delays, with the result that there is now immediate connection at all junctions. Cars are run at four-minute intervals on all the company's lines. A remarkable feature about the traffic is the small number of accidents which take place. This result in achieved by careful inspection and strict rules. The operators, all of whom are natives, are remarkably well paid, but heavily fined or dismissed in case of carelessness.

Siam Electricity Share Prices (May 5, 1927 - September 22, 1939)
from the National Archives

May 5, 1927: 100 baht/share (total 225,632 shares)
February 12, 1935: 90 baht/share (total 225,632 shares)
May 7, 1937: 80 baht/share (total 225,632 shares)
June 1, 1937: 60 baht/share (total 225,632 shares)
March 21, 1939: 50 baht/share (total 225,632 shares) -> the minimum limit
September 22, 1939: the cabinet approved Siam Electricity Corporation's request to change their name to "Thai Electricity Corporation" effective September 28, 1939. However, the cabinet did not allow TEC shares prices to go further from 50 baht/share to 25 baht/share.

Bangkok Electricity Authority
from the National Archives

After December 21, 1951: ceased services for the following lines:
1. Bang Krabue Pier - Bang Krabue Intersection, with a distance of 353 m
2. Chao Phraya River - Sukhothai Palace Intersection (Now Vajira Intersection), with a total distance of 526 m

New Line (definitely using materials from the defunct lines) Ploenchit Extension -> Rajprasong Intersection-Soi Ruenrudee with a distance of 1100 m. Initially, Bangkok Electricity Authority wanted to construct it to Soi Watthana (Sukhumvit 19) with a total distance of 1900 m, but the Maenam Railway line (Makkasan - Maenam) bared them from during so. The Skytrain has replaced the Yotse tram line, Silomline, and Ploenchit tram line (almost).

August 13, 1951: 202 trams constructed before WWII were run by the Bangkok Electricity Authority. Most of them were in very dilapidated condition. Bangkok Electricity Authority planned to buy 100 trams from Birmingham with a price tag of 350,000 baht/car. Furthermore, Bangkok Electricity Authority proposed 8 trolley bus lines as substitutes for trams and needed a loan of 126,889,420 baht to implement such projects. However, the government refused to approve the project since they were in very weak financial condition.

The Siamese Tramway Company, Ltd.
from Twentieth Century Impressions of Siam, Arnold Wright and Oliver T. Breakspear, 1908

The Siamese Tramway Company, Ltd., is a Siamese enterprise. It owes its existence to the initiative of H.R.H. Prince Naradhip, who secured the concession for three tramlines in Bangkok in the year 1903. Having formed a joint stock company for the working of the concession, the lines were opened on October 1, 1905. Encouraged by the signal success of the Siam Electricity Company's tramways, great expectations of the company as a money-making concern were held by the promoters, and the shares went up to rather fantastic prices even before operations were commenced. The company works under the financial disadvantage of a very high Government track rent, and has therefore so far given the promoters scanty returns for the capital invested.

In 1907 the majority of shares were brought up by the Siam Electricity Company, Ltd., and the two companies are now under joint management.

The total length of the Siamese Tramway Company's lines is 11.63 miles, single lines, with 41 sidings, dividing in the following lines:--

 Dusit line - 6.25 miles
 Hualampong line - 3.75 miles
 City Wall line - 1.63 miles

The Dusit line runs from a point near the River Menam in Samsen district, through several minor streets, through the Dusit Park and along the City Wall, passing the Royal Palace on the riverside to the terminus at Ta Chang Wang Na.

The Hualampong line runs from a point near the Paknam railway station along Sapatoom road to Seekak Sao Ching Cha, and through Bantanao road to the terminus at Ta Chang Wang Na.

The City Wall line is a branch line running along the City Wall and connecting the two above-mentioned lines. The rails are grooved, 33 1/2 kilogrammes per metre, joined with substantial fishplates and copper bonded, and the overhead material consists of double soft drawn copper wire No. 2/0, with overhead feeders. The system is divided into 4 feeder sections. All the cars are of Dick, Kerr & Co.'s single motor type of 25 h.p., the bodies being of teak-wood and constructed locally. There is accommodation for 56 cars in the company's lines is 2,819, and the number of cars in daily traffic is 30.

The company's  power station is situated at Wat Samo Kreng, on the river. There are two 200-kw. Dick, Kerr & Co.'s 500-volt direct-current dynamos directly coupled to Browett, Lindley & Co.'s comp. engine. Steam is supplied by two Babcock & Wilcox boilers of 250 h.p. each.

The Menam Motor Boat Company, Ltd.
from Twentieth Century Impressions of Siam, Arnold Wright and Oliver T. Breakspear, 1908

The Menam Motor Boat Company, Ltd., is a Siamese company started by Mr. Westenholz in 1906 for the purpose of maintaining a passenger service on the River Menam, which should work in conjunction with the Siam Electricity Company's tramways. There are at present 10 motor boats and 2 steam launches running on three different routes. The company, which is under the management of Mr. John Brown, also operates a tramway in the small town, Paklat, on the west bank of the river four miles south of Bangkok.

All about the Maenam Motorboat - December 28, 2005
Wisarut found some amazing data in the rare book room of National Library...

From Tramways in Bangkok from Geography of Bangkok Circle by Mr. Thad Phrammanop, 1931 (2000 copies sold at 1 baht each)

1) Maenam Motorboat has boat service from Bang Kho Laem Pier along Bang Khun Thian canal all the way to Bang Khun Thian Police Office with a ticket price of 20 satang.

2) Maenam Motorboat has boat service from Bang Krabue pier to Nonthaburi and Pakkret along Chao Phraya River... as well as both service to Bang Bua Thong via Bang Bua Thong canal. The service from Bang Krabue to Nonthaburi start from 6am to 11pm. The ticket price from Bang Krabue to Nonthaburi was 20 satang and Bang Krabue to Bang Bua Thong was 50 satang.

3) Maenam Motorboat has boat service from Bang Kho Laem Pier to Pak Lad. Further boat service with Ford gasoline engines will connect by tram to Phra Padaeng province (now the Phra Padaeng district of Samut Prakarn) with a price tag of 25 satang. After reaching Pra Padaeng, the passengers can go to Samut Prakarn, Bang Chak and Bang Na. The passengers can go all the way from Bang Kho Laem pier to Samut Prakarn by paying for a ticket at 40 satang.

Ferry service across the Chao Phraya is mostly run by Thai people. The monopolized piers cost the passenger 2-3 satang while the general pier would be 6-10 satang. Further distance depends on bargaining on the price.

There is boat service along Saen Saeb canal (Bang Kapi canal) from Pratoonam Prathumwan near Chaloem Lok market (Pratoo Nam market) near Chaloem Loke bridge all the way to Bang Kapi District and Min Buri province. It takes three hours to reach Minburi with the ticket price from 25-50 satang.

There is a boat service along Chao Phraya from Tha Tian (red boat) to Ayuthaya province via Ban Paen market, Sena District of Ayuthaya, Ang Thong, Singhburi and other places in the Ayuthaya Circle.

There is a boat service along Bangkok Yai canal from Ratchawongse pier to Wat Nuan Noradit (Phaseecharoen) via Talad Ploo with a price tag of 10 satang from Ratchawongse to Wat Nuan Noradit. This boat can connect the passengers with Mahachai Railway at Talad Ploo. This boat service was run by Bang Luang Co. Ltd. with the office at Ong Ang canal, near Wat Bophit Phimuk.

Furthermore, Bang Luang Co. Ltd. was running a boat service along Bang Kok Noy canal from Wat Mahathat Pier to Bang Kruay, Bang Khoowiang, and Bang Yai via Bang Kok Noy canal, Bang Kruay canal and Mae Nam Om canal with a price tag of 30 satang.

Boats for rent can be arranged either on an hourly or daily basis at Bang Luang Boat Service Co.Ltd. at the office near Ong Ang canal.

The Mae Klong Railway
from Locomotives & Carriages/Wagons, State Railway of Thailand, 1991
Also: Maeklong railway news

Maeklong Railway was a private concession founded by Phraya Phiphatkosa (Mr. Selestino Xaviar--a Portuguese who worked as Portuguese Consul in Bangkok and the Ministry of Foreign Affiars) and 10 foreigners as Tha Chin Railway Co.Ltd. after being granted a concession on May 17, 1901. The line was inaugurated by Crown Prince Vajiravut (King Vajiravut) at 09:08 on December 29, 1904. The train started from Klongsarn Station at 12:45 and reached Mahachai Station at 14:10. The line was open for public services on January 4, 1905. The line went from Klongsarn (now Klongsarn Pier) near Fort Pid-Padjanuek to Mahachai near Fort Wichian-Choduek with a total distance of 33.1 km.

Later on, Mae Klong Railway Co.Ltd. was founded by Royal Concession on June 10, 1905, and became effective on August 15, 1905. The line ran from Wat Ban Laem Station to Mae Klong Station with a total distance of 33.864 km. Therefore, the passengers from Bangkok had to take a ferry ride from Mahachai to Tha Chalom to connect with Mae Klong line. Both companies were merged to form Mae Klong Railway Co.Ltd. on July 12, 1907, with Royal approval from King Chulalongkorn on October 6, 1908.

Mae Klong Railway become more popular, so the company decided to run electric tram service on the railway track from Klongsarn Station to Wat Sai Station on February 12, 1926 with a total distance of 7.6 km. Later on in 1927, the tram service was extended 1 km. more from Wat Sai Station to Wat Singh Station. Tram service had 30-minute interval with a one-way ticket at a price of 5 stang (a price of daily newspaper of that day).

The concession of Tha Chin section was expired on November 23, 1942 and the Mae Klong section on August 14, 1945. After that, the government decided to nationalize Mae Klong Railway Co.Ltd. and turn the company into "Mae Klong Railway Organization", an organization within Royal State Railway Department, Ministry of Transportation. Royal State Railway Department was reorganized as a state enterprise (State Railway of Thailand) by SRT Act of 1952 effective on July 1, 1952 which also turned Mae Klong Railway Organization into "Mae Klong Railway Office." Tram service on Mae Klong Railway track was discontinued on February 1, 1955 so as to follow the regulation of SRT.

The traffic around Klongsarn-Wongwian Yai area become so congested that Field Marshall Sarit Thanarat (Premier from October 20, 1958 to December 8, 1963) decided to shorten Mae Klong Railway by moving the eastern terminal from Klongsarn to Wongwian Yai on January 7, 1961. Initially, the strongman wanted to shorten the line to have the eastern terminal at Wat Singh station. However, people in Thonburi told him that it would be much more convenient to have the eastern terminal at Wongwian Yai and he agreed with them.

Premier Sarit also planned to move the Bangkok Railway Station from Hua Lamphong to Bang Sue Junction after terminating Pak Nam Electric Railway on January 1, 1960. However, he could only move the railway cargo terminal which was next to Klong Phadung Krungkasem to Bangsue Junction area (Chatuchak Park was conceived in 1975).

Maeklong Railway
from the National Archives
Also: Maeklong railway news

August 14, 1945 - Government nationalized Maeklong Railway

November 13, 1945 - Government purchased both sections of Mae Klong railway lines with a price tag of 2 million baht even though Mae Klong Railway Co.Ltd. asked the government to pay either 4 million baht for the whole system or the separate price -> 1.02 million baht for the line from Klongsarn - Mahachai and 2.00 million baht for the line from Ban Laem to Mae Klong.

May 12, 1950 - The tram system from Klongsarn to Wat Singh and Paknam railways were in very dilapidated condition. Field Marshall Plaek asked if the Royal Railways Department could shorten Paknam Railway to Saladaeng or Klong Toei and abolish Maeklong railway altogether. Royal State Railway Dept. declined such a proposal since RSR was going to buy two new sets of electric railway systems with a price tag of 1.5 million baht as a replacement for broken motors.

April 30, 1952 - Mae Klong Railway Organization was founded as a state enterprise within RSR Dept. before being absorbed into SRT.

Paknam Railways
from the National Archives

June 25, 1925 - Prince Damrong was invited to have a discussion with the shareholders about the plan to electrify the Paknam Railway line.

December 31, 1925 - Paknam Railways bought about 9080 baht for the electric tram system install by Siam Electricity Co.Ltd. and Paknam Railway received the rent from Siam Electricity Co. Ltd.

Before September 8, 1936 - An argument between Paknam Railway Co.Ltd and Government of that day: Paknam Railway wanted to sell Paknam Railway and the Electric Tram system to the Government at a price tag of about 507,700 baht. Initially the government was willing to pay 300,000 baht for Paknam Railway and was threatening to run bus and truck services as a substitute for the railway if Paknam Railways did not accept the government price.

September 8, 1936 - Sukhumvit Road line (then Bangkok - Samut Prakarn Road) was opened for service. The shareholders of Paknam Railway accepted the compromise that the government would buy Paknam Railway at a price of 350,000 baht. Royal State Railway Dept. would then control Paknam Railway.

Transit history notes: Maenam Motorboat Co. Ltd. - September 23, 2005
Wisarut provides these transit history notes: Siam Electricity Co. Ltd. was one of shareholders in Maenam Motorboat Co. Ltd. The company had five major piers - Nonthaburi, Kiawkhaikah (Bang Krabue), Tha Tian (opposite Temple of the Dawn), Thanon Tok (the end of New Road), and Phra Pradaeng (Wat Protket near Wat Prot Ket, and Talad Thahin opposite to Poochao Samingplai pier).
In 1908, Maenam Motorboat raised the price of tickets as follows:
2nd Class: 1 Salueng from Talad Thahin pier to Tahnon Tok pier
1st Class: 2 Salueng from Talad Thahin pier to Tahnon Tok pier
At that time Maenam Motorboat tickets could no longer be used for the Bangkholaem tram to Bang Rak. The passengers had to buy tram tickets on their own at Thanon Tok Terminal.

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