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Thailand Launching Largest Railway Station in Southeast Asia

18 Nov 2020

In 2021, Thailand plans to launch Bang Sue Grand Station, its mega infrastructure project that will not only help ease the traffic congestion in Bangkok but also support the role of the country as a regional transport hub, states the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand.

It is positioned to strengthen the railway system of Thailand and its connections with the regional transport network, hence enhancing economic growth. 

As the capital's railway hub, the Bang Sue Grand Station will replace the Grande Dame Bangkok Station or Hua Lamphong with a much larger capacity and seamless connectivity to match the regional ambitions of Thailand. It will also serve underground, commuter, and high-speed trains, in addition to intercity trains, linking Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, and U-Tapao international airports. It was possible to travel the 220-kilometre train route between Don Mueang in Bangkok and U-Tapao in Rayong province in less than an hour, ready to transport Bangkokians to reach Rayong beach in a short period of time.

The external construction of the station has already been completed to date, and only interior decorations are required in addition to having the station fully functional by 2021.

The station covers an area of 1,280 acres and is set to be Southeast Asia's largest railway station. Bang Sue Grand Station can accommodate 26 to 40 trains at the same time, with a daily passenger capacity of up to 600,000 passengers, or 10 times more than its century-old predecessor, Hua Lamphong Station, standing four stories high, with 12 platforms and 24 trains.

Designed to be environmentally friendly, the station will have at least 30 per cent green space and will be "pollution-free since it will only serve electric trains," according to Voravut Mala, former Acting Governor of the State Railway of Thailand. 

For the first high-speed train project, the route from Bangkok to Nong Khai, the Bang Sue Grand Station will also offer a platform. A Thai-Sino collaboration to connect Thailand with the Lao PDR and China is the high-speed train project. The first phase is under construction from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima, spanning 250.77 kilometres. The rest of the route that links Nakhon Ratchasima with Nong Khai is 356.1 kilometres away. This project will enable travel from Bangkok to reach Nong Khai in just three hours, instead of the usual 11-hour train ride or an 8-hour drive on the road, once completed.

Bang Sue Grand Station and Thailand's railway network will enhance the intra-regional connectivity of ASEAN and could be extended to link with China's Belt Road Initiative (BRI) or other prospective bilateral or regional logistics projects in the foreseeable future. 

The station was initially designed in the National Infrastructure Development Plan (2015-2022) as an extension of the Red Line Mass Transit System. Later on, the plan is expanded by the authorities, transforming the main terminus platform to accommodate several types of rail services. Bang Sue Grand Station, similar to Japan's Tokyo Station and Taiwan's Taipei Main Station, will act as a new transit hub with facilities for future high-tech equipment and system installations.

If the U-Tapao high-speed railway is completed, travel between Bangkok and the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) will be promoted, Thailand's flagship project to encourage higher-value investments in upgraded, more high-tech industries. It will also complement Thailand's growing tourism industry, as well as contribute to urbanization and the decentralization of the city, expanding economic opportunities beyond the city walls. 

The next generation of rail services will allow people living in Bangkok's surrounding areas to skip the traffic and hop on the commuter trains of the 'Red Line.'

The Red Line is two routes; the north-south 'Dark Red Line' for a distance of 114.3 kilometres from Ayutthaya to Ratchaburi and the west-east 'Bright Red Line' for 127.5 kilometres connecting Nakhon Pathom with Chachoengsao. 

The Bang Sue Grand Station plan is not limited to trains and tracks only. Thailand hopes to promote Bang Sue Grand Station as a catalyst for the development of a new central business district around the station, inspired by Japan's success in urban development based on the rail. To encourage more investment in business complexes and residential units, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) plans to adopt the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) model in the surrounding areas.

A new stream of jobs and income for the local economy will inevitably be generated by this infrastructural elevation. At about the same time as a result of a more successful commuting network, the infamous Bangkok traffic will hopefully ease, subsequently reducing the number of city dwellers as they spread out to reside outside city areas. 

The completion of this mega project is timely, as a pandemic is facing Thailand and the world. Both domestically and regionally, mass employment and business opportunities could offer people and the economy a chance to finally pick up and get back on track.

Source: FTN NEWS