Dual track set to transform regional rail transport

The new Cha-Am Railway Station.

Many observers still mistakenly believe these structures are intended to support a high-speed or ‘bullet train’ from Bangkok. That project remains shelved due to a lack of investor interest, now likely to be more distant in a difficult post-Covid-19 economic environment.

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) has a budget of nearly 90 billion baht for the dual track rail project, which will be a major boost for tourism to the region. According to SRT figures, 90 percent of passengers taking the train south from Bangkok are tourists.

The trip is soon to be much more appealing. The project – which the SRT dubs “Southern Route Phase 2” – includes multiple new station buildings, overpasses and bridges, now in various stages of construction. A visit to the Facebook page ‘southtwintrain’ provides ample video and photographic evidence of the scope of the engineering works now well underway.

When the new line is completed in 2022, it will reduce Hua Hin travel time to Bangkok to between 2-3 hours, depending on the number of stops, with trains travelling at 160 km per hour.

Hua Hin Railway Station undergoing construction.

Modernised carriages will enable passengers to travel in comfort from the new Bang Sue station in Bangkok to destinations such as Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi, Cha-Am, Hua Hin, Pranburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Bang Saphan Noi, Chumphon, Surat Thani, Songkhla and then on to Padang Besar at the Malaysian border. Bang Sue Central Rail Station in Bangkok is destined to be the largest station in ASEAN.

This is a 15-billion-baht project for the capital’s and nation’s rail hub, with an elevated walkway to
Mo Chit Bus Terminal. The station, which includes 26 platforms, is due to be opened in January 2021.

Artist’s concept of the new Hua Hin Railway Station.

Cha-Am’s new railway station is taking shape as one of the early visual signs of the dual track project set to transform rail travel from Bangkok heading south. Another sign is the mushrooming concrete support structures, as the line will safely cross roads well above ground level.

WRITER: David Watson | Hua Hin Today