Rail transport in Thailand

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Rail transport in Thailand
National railway SRT
Infrastructure company SRT
Major operators BTSC, BMCL
Ridership ?
System length
Total 4,346 kilometres (2,700 mi)
Electrified 80.55 km (50.05 mi) (rapid transit)
High-speed 0 km (0 mi)
Track gauge
Main 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in)
1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Meter gauge 4,346 kilometres (2,700 mi)
Standard gauge 80.55 km (50.05 mi) (rapid transit)
Third rail 51.95 km (32.28 mi) (BTS Skytrain and Bangkok Metro)
Overhead line 28.6 km (17.8 mi) (Suvarnabhumi Airport Link)
No. tunnels 7
Tunnel length 3.626 km (2.253 mi)
Longest tunnel 1.352 km (0.840 mi) (Khun Tan Tunnel)
Longest bridge 0.442 km (0.275 mi) (Rama VI Bridge)
Highest elevation 578m (Khun Tan Railway Station)
Thailand rail map.gif

The railway network of Thailand is managed and operated by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT).


Interest in rail transport in Siam can be traced to when King Rama IV was given a gift of a model railway from Queen Victoria in 1855. The first railway line, 21.3 km, named Paknam Railway between BangkokSamut Prakan started its construction in 1889 under a 50-year concession with a Danish company. Paknam Railway opened on April 11, 1893. This railway line was electrified in 1925, made it into the first electric railway service of Southeast Asia. However, this railway line was abolished since January 1, 1957.

Royal State Railways of Siam (RSR) was found in 1890 at the same time with a construction of the Bangkok-Ayutthaya railway (71 km or 44 mi), the first part of the Northern Line, was started in 1891 and opened on March 26, 1895. The Thonburi-Phetchaburi line (150 km or 93 mi), later the Southern Line, opened on June 19, 1903.

The Northern Line was originally built as 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge, but in September 1919 it was decided to standardize on 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) meter gauge and the Northern Line was regauged during the next ten years. On July 1, 1951, RSR changed its name to the present State Railway of Thailand (SRT).

In 2005 SRT had 4,070 km (2,530 mi) of track, all of it meter gauge. Nearly all is single-track, although some important sections around Bangkok are double or triple-tracked and there are plans to extend this.

On 21 March 2015 Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said that Thailand and China had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in late-2014 on joint railway construction furthering Thailand's seven-year strategy on the development of transportation from 2015-2022. The MoU stipulates that a joint Thai-Chinese 1.435-meter standard-gauge rail network project bear fruit in 2018. Thailand is to be responsible for conducting environmental impact assessments and land expropriations. China is responsible for project design and construction. The project includes four routes: 133 km between Bangkok and Kaeng Khoi; 246.5 km between Kaeng Khoi and Map Ta Phut; 138.5 km between Kaeng Khoi and Nakhon Ratchasima; and 355 km from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai.[1]


The SRT has long been popularly perceived by the public as inefficient and resistant to change. Trains are usually late, and most of its equipment is old and poorly maintained. The worst financially performing state enterprise, the SRT consistently operates at a loss despite being endowed with large amounts of property and receiving large government budgets; it reported a preliminary loss of 7.58 billion baht in 2010.[2] Recurring government attempts at restructuring and/or privatization throughout the 2000s have always been strongly opposed by the union and have not made any progress.[3][4]


All intercity rail transportation is managed by the State Railway of Thailand, a government agency responsible for rail infrastructure investment as well as freight and passenger services.

In Bangkok, the Skytrain is operated by Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Company Limited (BTSC) under a concession granted by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) but the investment for the structure and system were fully supported by BTSC.

The underground system is operated by Bangkok Metro Company Limited (BMCL), while whole project investments were shared by Mass Rapid Transit Authorities (MRTA) and BMCL, which all civil structures was provided by government sector and the system was provided by private sector (BMCL). The deal of contract between BMCL and MRTA are under the concession agreement for 25 years operation.


Thailand has 4,431 kilometers of meter gauge railway tracks not including mass transit lines in Bangkok. All national rail services are managed by the State Railway of Thailand. The four main lines are the Northern Line, which terminates in Chiang Mai, the Northeastern Line, which terminates at Ubon Ratchathani and the Lao border in Nong Khai Province, the Eastern Line, which terminates at the Cambodian border in Sa Kaeo Province, and the Southern Line, which terminates at the Malaysian border in Songkhla and Narathiwat Provinces.

Current lines[edit]

Description Established Length Stations Gauge
Bangkok-Ubon Ratchathani 1930 575 km (357 mi) about 300 Metre gauge
Bangkok-Nong Khai 1958 621 km (386 mi) about 100 Metre gauge
Nong Khai-Thanaleng, Laos 2009 6 km (3.7 mi) 2 Metre gauge
Kaeng Khoi-Bua Yai 1967 251 km (156 mi) about 60 Metre gauge
Bangkok-Chiang Mai 1926 661 km (411 mi) about 200 Metre gauge
Ban Dara-Sawankhalok 1910 29 km (18 mi) 3 Metre gauge
Bangkok-Taling Chan 1903 22 km (14 mi) 7 Metre gauge
Thon Buri-Su-ngai Kolok 1921 1,144 km (711 mi) about 450 Metre gauge
Hat Yai-Padang Besar, Malaysia 1918 45 km (28 mi) 3 Metre gauge
Khao Chum Thong-Nakhon Si Thammarat 1914 35 km (22 mi) 4 Metre gauge
Thung Song-Kantang 1913 93 km (58 mi) 5 Metre gauge
Ban Thung Pho-Khiri Rat Nikhom 1956 31 km (19 mi) 2 Metre gauge
Nong Pladuk-Nam Tok (Burma Railway) 1944 130 km (81 mi) about 30 Metre gauge
Nong Pladuk-Suphanburi 1963 78 km (48 mi) 2 Metre gauge
Bangkok-Aranyaprathet 1926 255 km (158 mi) about 100 Metre gauge
Makkasan-Mae Nam 1909 3 km (1.9 mi) 2 Metre gauge
Sam Sen-Phaya Thai (Chitlada Triangular Junction) 1936 3 km (1.9 mi) 2 Metre gauge
Chachoengsao-Ban Phlu Ta Luang 1989 123 km (76 mi) about 20 Metre gauge
Wongwian Yai-Mahachai (Maeklong Railway) 1904 33 km (21 mi) 18 Metre gauge
Ban Laem-Maeklong (Maeklong Railway) 1905 33 km (21 mi) 15 Metre gauge

Future lines[edit]

Description Length Gauge Start Commission
Den Chai-Chiang Rai 325 km (202 mi) Meter gauge 2014 2017
Ban Phai-Nakhon Phanom 368 km (229 mi) Meter gauge 2015 2018-2019
Khiri Rat Nikhom-Phuket 300 km (190 mi) Meter gauge 2016 2019
Chumphon-Satun  ?? Meter gauge  ??  ??
AranyaprathetPoipet, Cambodia 6 km (3.7 mi) Meter gauge 2013(Fixed) 2015
Nam TokThanbyuzayat, Myanmar (Burma Railway) 285 km (177 mi) Meter gauge 2012(planned)TBA(Fixed) 2020
Pak Bara Deep Sea Port - Songkhla 2 Deep Seaport  ?? Meter gauge  ??  ??

Defunct lines[edit]

Description Established Length Gauge Cancelled notes
Hat YaiSongkhla 1913 30 km (19 mi) Meter gauge July 1, 1978 Began operations In 1913. In 1978 the Cabinet has approved the cancellation of Hat YaiSongkhla lines, but preserve the railways. Now are fixed again as Songkhla-Pak Bara lines.
Nam TokThanbyuzayat, Myanmar (Burma Railway) December 25, 1944 285 km (177 mi) Meter gauge  ?? Its operations ended after World War II. In 2012 Thailand and Myanmar agreed to fix this line for high-speed rail. Another name of This line is Burma Railway or Death Railway.
BangkokSamut Prakan (Paknam Railway) April 11, 1893 21 km (13 mi) Narrow gauge 1960 It is the first railway in Thailand. Open in 1893, operated by Paknam Railway Co.Ltd. In 1943, It is operated by State Railway of Thailand. In 1960 the cabinet approved the cancellation of Paknam Railway to make Rama IV road.
Bang PhlatBang Bua Thong (Bang Bua Thong Railway) 1909  ?? Narrow gauge 1943
ChumphonKraburi (Kra Isthmus Railway) 1943 90 km (56 mi) Meter gauge 1945
Bung WaiBan Pho Mun 1930 7 km (4.3 mi) Meter gauge 1954
Nong Khai–Talat Nong Khai 1958 2 km (1.2 mi) Meter gauge 2008
Su-ngai KolokRantau Panjang 1921 3 km (1.9 mi) Meter gauge  ??
Wongwian Yai–Pak Khlong San 1904  ?? Meter gauge 1961
AranyaprathetPoipet, Cambodia 1970 6 km (3.7 mi) Meter gauge 1974
Ban Phlu Ta LuangSattahip Port 1989 11 km (6.8 mi) Meter gauge  ??
Tha RueaPhra Phutthabat (Phra Phutthabat Railway) 1902 20 km (12 mi) Narrow gauge 1947
PhetchaburiBang Thalu (Chao Samran beach Railway)  ??  ?? Narrow gauge  ??
Hua WaiTha Tako 1940 53 km (33 mi) Meter gauge 1967

Rail links to adjacent countries[edit]

Rail transport in Bangkok[edit]

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, King Rama V eagerly built a tram network for Bangkok by employing foreign engineers and technicians, especially Danish engineers. In fact, Bangkok had electric trams before Copenhagen. However, due to a lack of interest and maintenance the tram network was completely scrapped in 1968.

Greater Bangkok Commuter rail[edit]

Rapid transit systems[edit]

Bangkok is currently served by three rapid transit systems: the BTS Skytrain, the underground MRT and the elevated Airport Rail Link. Although proposals for the development of rapid transit in Bangkok had been made since 1975,[6] leading to plans for the failed Lavalin Skytrain, it was only in 1999 that the BTS finally began operation.

The M-Map details plans for additional rapid transit lines in Bangkok.

In addition to rapid transit and heavy rail lines, there have been proposals for several monorail systems, the most notable being a line linking Chulalongkorn University with Siam Square, to be funded by the BMA. In 2010 Grand Canal Land Company proposed a 600–800 metre line linking its properties on Rama IX Road with the Phra Ram 9 MRT Station, but failed to secure approval.[7][8]

Primary lines
Commuter rail SRT Dark Red Line Thammasat – Maha Chai
SRT Light Red Line Sala Ya – Taling Chan – Hua Mak
Airport Rail Link and extension Phaya Thai – Bang Sue – Don Mueang
Rapid transit Dark Green Line, extension of the BTS Sukhumvit Line Lam Luk Ka – Saphan Mai – Mo Chit – On Nut – Bearing – Samut Prakan – Bang Pu
Light Green Line, extension of the BTS Silom Line Yot Se – Taksin Bridge – Bang Wa
Blue Line, extension of the MRT Blue Line Bang Sue – Tha Phra, Hua Lamphong – Bang Khae – Phutthamonthon Sai 4
Purple Line Bang Yai – Rat Burana
Orange Line Taling Chan – Min Buri
Feeder lines
Monorail Pink Line Khae Rai – Pak Kret – Min Buri
Yellow Line Lat Phrao – Samrong
Brown Line Khae Rai – Bueng Kum
Grey Line Watcharaphon – Rama IX Bridge
Light Blue Line Din Daeng – Sathon

Development is divided into three stages, in addition to those lines already open or under construction:[9]

As of 2014
In service 81.28 kilometres (50.51 mi) ~28.93%
Under construction 98.62 kilometres (61.28 mi) ~35.36%
Planned more than 100 kilometres (62 mi) ~35.71%

Rolling stock[edit]

State Railway of Thailand[edit]

BTS Skytrain[edit]

Further information: BTS Skytrain
Rolling stock of BTS Skytrain

The BTS Skytrain uses two variations of Electric Multiple Unit rolling stock. All operate on 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) track gauge (standard gauge). All trains have 4 doors on each side per car, an air-conditioning unit, and LCD monitors for public announcement and advertising. The power supply for all trains is at 750 V DC from the third rail.

Bangkok Metro[edit]

Further information: Bangkok Metro
  • Bangkok MRT Blue Line: each train consists of two motor cars and a centre trailer car.[10]

Airport Rail Link[edit]

Further information: Airport Rail Link (Bangkok)

Siemens supplied nine Desiro Class 360/2 trainsets. The only significant difference from the UK units is a much larger air-conditioning pod on the roof, providing extra power to cope with the Thai climate. City services is operated by five three-car trains, and the Express services by four trainsets with a fourth car for check-in baggage. The first trains left Germany in September 2007, and testing in Bangkok began in March 2008.[11] On 15 May 2012 the Thai Cabinet approved a budget of 5.2 billion baht for the SRT to order 7 new, 4 car sets of Siemens Desiro rolling stock to be delivered by 2014.[12] However, as of June 2013 no order for new rolling stock had yet been placed. The Ministry of Transport was considering purchasing cheaper Chinese (CNR) or Spanish (CAF) rolling stock which would require changing the Siemens closed signalling system to an open system.[13]



Railway tracks with incomplete Bangkok Elevated Road and Train System Pillars near Ngam Wong Wan.

Most existing State Railway of Thailand lines use metre gauge, although standard gauge is used of rapid transit lines. As of 2013, approximately 4,346 km (2,700 mi) of track was in use throughout Thailand:

  • 4,346 km (2,700 mi) metre gauge (1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in));
  • 80.55 km (50.05 mi) standard gauge (1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)); and

Railway stations[edit]

About 450 stations.[14]


About 1,000 bridges.[15]


There are 7 railway tunnels in Thailand, amounting to a total length of 3.63 km (2.26 mi).


State Railway of Thailand uses colour light signals and semaphore signal

Future Plans[edit]

Mass transit routes in Bangkok are also set to be expanded. Excluding the already under construction extensions to the Skytrain, the Bangkok Metropolitan Government is planning a northern as well as western expansion of the Skytrain. The Central Government, through the State Railway of Thailand and Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand are also planning to build several new metro routes.

The Thai Government also has double tracking projects including a double tracking project in the works between Laem Chabang deep sea port and the Lad Krabang ICD. Also, in line with the Government's policy of reducing overall logistics costs in Thailand, there are plans to completely double track all the main lines in the country as well as upgrade track quality. The Government is also mulling a restructuring of the State Railway of Thailand and granting operating concessions to private freight operators. An international rail link has opened to Vientiane in Laos via Nong Khai and the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge. The 6 km 'missing link' on the Eastern line between Aranyaphratet and Poipet (Cambodia) is also being rebuilt with construction starting in late 2013 for completion in 900 days.[16]

New SRT lines[edit]

There are also plans to construct new railway routes:

  • 1) Chiang Rai in the north via Denchai Junction - 326 km, 77 billion baht. This route is currently under EIA evaluation
  • 2) Ban Phai (on the Northeast line) - Roi Et - Mukdahan - Nakhon Phanom - 347 km, 42 billion baht. (Completing public consultations & final route evaluation by Oct 2014)
  • 3) Kanchanaburi - Dewei (Burma): 190 km. Route to be finalised
  • 4) Phuket from Surat Thani
  • 5) Connect the Maeklong railway to main lines

Proposed high speed routes[edit]

Thailand High Speed Rail
Type High-speed rail and Medium-speed rail
Status Under investigation
Locale  Thailand
Operator(s) State Railway of Thailand
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Operating speed 300 km/h (186 mph) and 250 km/h (155 mph)

In October 2010, the Thai parliament approved initial proposals for a high speed rail (HSR) network. Five lines capable of handling 250 km/h speeds would radiate from Bangkok.[17]

In March 2013, the transport minister revealed that only one company would be selected to run all high-speed train routes, scheduled to be operational between 2018 and 2019.[18] The first 86 km section from Bang Sue to Ayuthaya was planned to be tendered in late-2013. However, a seven-month-long political crisis involving the dissolution of parliament and an annulled February 2014 election culminated in a military coup in May 2014. Subsequently, in July 2014 the new military administration deferred all HSR plans until the next civilian government is installed. Elections are planned for October 2015.

Following the military coup of May 2014 and his elevation to the office of prime minister, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha proposed connecting Bangkok to two popular resort cities, Pattaya and Hua Hin, by high-speed rail. The Transport Ministry's Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning had earlier conducted studies on both routes. They assumed that, for the Bangkok-Pattaya line, trains would run through Chachoengsao, Chonburi, and Pattaya, terminating in Rayong, a total distance of 193.5 km. Construction costs were estimated at 152 billion baht with an economic internal rate of return (EIRR) of 13 percent. Construction would take about 54 months. The route to Hua Hin would be 209 km in length with an investment cost of about 98 billion baht and EIRR of 8.1 percent. The office concluded that these routes would be of little interest to private investors due to the high investment required, coupled with a low rate of return.[19]

Sino-Thai railway[edit]

In November 2014, Thailand and China signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to construct the Thai portion of the transnational railway running from Kunming, China to the Gulf of Thailand. In November 2015, both parties agreed to a division of labour. Under the framework, a joint venture will be set up to run the project. China will conduct feasibility studies, design the system, construct tunnels and bridges, and lay track. Thailand will conduct social and environmental impact studies, expropriate land for construction, handle general civil engineering and power supply, and supply construction materials.

Once built, China will operate and maintain the system for the first three years of operation. Between the third and the seventh years, both countries will share responsibility. Later Thailand will take on responsibility with China as adviser. China will train Thai personnel to operate and maintain the system.

Dual standard-gauge tracks will be laid throughout the project. In Thailand, two routes will diverge at a junction in Kaeng Khoi District in Saraburi Province. One will connect Bangkok to Kaeng Khoi. The other route will connect Kaeng Khoi with Map Ta Phut of Rayong Province. From Kaeng Khoi tracks will lead north to Nakhon Ratchasima and on to Nong Khai Province. Construction will be divided into four sections: Bangkok-Kaeng Khoi, Map Ta Phut-Kaeng Khoi, Kaeng Khoi-Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Ratchasima-Nong Khai.

Construction of Thailand's 873-kilometre-long portion of the railway system is expected to start in mid-2016 and take three years. It will connect to a 417 km line from Vientiane to the northern Lao border and a 520 km line from the Lao border to Kunming.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Promlerd, Paparorn; Niamvanichkul, Nodhwarang (2015-03-21). "Thai-Chinese standard-gauge rail network will be in use by 2018, PM says". National News Bureau of Thailand (NNT). Retrieved 22 Mar 2015. 
  2. ^ Chantanusornsiri, Wichit (23 January 2012). "State railway to finally account for assets and liabilities". Bangkok Post. 
  3. ^ Mahitthirook, Amornrat; Marukatat, Saritdet (22 December 2010). "Getting on track needs strong political will". Bangkok Post. 
  4. ^ Bowring, Philip (23 October 2009). "Thailand's Railways: Wrong Track". Asia Sentinel. Asia Sentinel. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  5. ^ "Neighbours to the west get closer | Bangkok Post: news". Bangkok Post. 2012-02-28. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  6. ^ Rujopakarn, Wiroj (October 2003). "Bangkok transport system development: what went wrong?". Journal of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies 5: 3302–15. 
  7. ^ "Developer puts Bangkok on track for nation's first monorail". Bangkok Post. March 7, 2010. Retrieved December 25, 2011. [dead link]
  8. ^ โมโนเรลแกรนด์คาแนลส่อวืด. Thansettakij (in Thai) (2628). 21–23 April 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  9. ^ ความก้าวหน้าโครงการ. Mass Rapid Transit Master Plan in Bangkok Metropolitan Region website (in Thai). Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning. Retrieved 16 January 2012. 
  10. ^ "Bangkok's first underground metro open". International Railway Journal. July 2004. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  11. ^ "Bangkok Desiro deliveries begin". Railway Gazette International. September 10, 2007. 
  12. ^ [1] แอร์พอร์ตลิงก์ชงบอร์ดซื้อรถใหม่ 7 ขบวน 4.2พันล้าน เตรียมเข็นล็อตแรกปี57, Pracha News, 16 May 2012
  13. ^ [2] แพงเว่อร์คมนาคมรื้อ"ซีเมนส์"ดึง"จีน-ยุโรป"เสียบแอร์พอร์ตลิงก์, Pracha News, 18 June 2013
  14. ^ Railway stations in Thailand
  15. ^ "Railway bridges in Thailand records (Thai)". 
  16. ^ http://www.prachachat.net/news_detail.php?newsid=1366947994&grpid&catid=07&subcatid=0703
  17. ^ "Thailand to negotiate with China on high-speed proposal". International Railway Journal. 2010-10-30. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  18. ^ "Transport Minister: One firm will run all high-speed train routes". Thai Financial Post. 2013-03-21. 
  19. ^ "Difficulty in implementing high-speed train to resort provinces". Mass Communication Organization of Thailand (MCOT). 2015-02-14. Retrieved 15 Feb 2015. 
  20. ^ Jikkham, Patsara (2015-11-17). "Sino-Thai railway responsibilities set". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 18 November 2015. 

External links[edit]