Monday, December 22, 2008

Thailand's Trains: SRT Northern Line: Paknam Pho Station and Yard.

Recently I embarked on an all day rail photographing trip to Paknam Pho on the Northern line. This is the 1st time I had photographed a rural railway location on the Northern line. 

A little Background on the Northern Line and Paknam Pho.

The Northern line links Bangkok with Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand. The section between Bangkok and Ayutthaya was opened in 1897 some 5 years after the Paknam commuter line in Bangkok. Thus the Northern line is Thailand’s 2nd oldest railway not the oldest as many people like to note. The reason for confusion is that the construction works on the Bangkok to Ayutthaya section of the line commenced before the works for the Paknam line started.

When the northern line was 1st built it was a 1435mm gauge line. In the 1920’s it was regauged to the South East Asian standard of 1000mm gauge. By 1922 the Northern line finally reached Chiang Mai where the lines terminus remains to this day. The section of the northern line between Sila At and Lam Phun is very steeply graded and passes through very mountainous areas. This section of the line has large sections of low line speed and very tight almost tramway grade curves that can force the train to a 15 kph crawl at times.

The section of the Northern line between Bangkok and Paknam Pho was completed by 1905. Paknam Pho is located 250.56km from Bangkok. For many years it was an important transshipment location for river borne trade from the northern part of Thailand. The cargo pier is located 3.5km west of Paknam Pho station. However today this line is no longer in use and most of the cargo now goes by road or is transshipped at a container rail yard elsewhere.

Paknam Pho consists of a 4 track yard and a 3 track passing loop. Due to the layout of the station the passenger platforms are located in the 4 track yard where no passenger trains stop. This means there are no platforms at Paknam Pho as all passenger trains stop on the loop tracks where you must board from the ground level. Passengers normally wait under the elevated signal box next to the Paknam Pho Loop.

South west of the station and loop is a small railway workshop that dates back to the lines opening in 1905. The workshop only provides light repairs for locos and cargo wagons as its facilities are rather basic. In front of the workshop is a small hand operated turntable. It appears that the turntable is still in working order but very rarely used.

The staff who work at Paknam Pho are very friendly and will show you around the small work shop and also let you know when any trains due to pass through the station. It is typical rural Thailand railway location with warm and friendly staff and locals.

Passenger Train Timetable at Paknam Pho:

To Bangkok: 06.50, 08.32, 12.44, 16.46 and 21.57.

From Bangkok: 11.34, 15.10, 18.08, 22.39, 00.08 and 02.39.

Due to the North East – South West layout of the station that coupled with high levels of locally produced haze made for very challenging photographing conditions when looking west.

Bangkok Hualamphong at 7.00am.

1. This is a shot of SRT loco 4108 waiting to depart from Hualamphong station with Rapid 111 to Denchai. Loco Type Alstrom. Taken looking south along the platform.

2. This is another angle on SRT loco number 4108 as it waits at Hualamphong Station. Taken from the middle of the tracks looking south.

3. This is a shot of the 2nd class non aircon seats on Rapid 111. This train has only 20 2nd class non aircon seats the other 8 carriages are 3rd class non aircon seats. As this is the 1st day train on the northern line ex Bangkok its best to book a week ahead if you want these seats.

Noen Makok Loop (224.81km) at 11.36am. (The train is 40 minutes late.)

4. This is an image of a southbound Hitachi DMU coming to a halt in the 2nd road of Noen Makok Loop. Taken looking north from the doors of the North bound rapid train.

5. This is a shot of SRT DMU unit 2527 taken as it overtakes the rapid train and crosses the Hitachi DMU at Noen Makok Loop. This is known as a “triple cross”. DMU type Daewoo.

6. This is a shot of the Daewoo DMU 2527 ripping past the Hitachi DMU at Noen Makok Loop. Taken from the Rapid Train looking north.

7. This is a short video of the Hitachi DMU as it powers up to depart from Noen Makok Loop as it makes its way to Bangkok on an inbound intercity train. Note the sound of the horn and engine. Also this is a 5 car set with one aircon carriage.

Paknam Pho Station and Yard (250.56 km) at 12.16pm until 4.59pm.

8. This is an image of a Cement train taken as it was passing through Paknam Pho station and loop. Taken looking west towards Bangkok. Note the cement wagons on this train are bottom discharge.

9. This is a shot of the elevated signal control box at Paknam Pho station. Below the signal box is where you wait for the passenger trains. There is no platform at Paknam Pho. At some point in the past it appears the points and signals where mechanically linked to this box.

10. This is a shot of the signal control panel inside the elevated signal box at Paknam Pho station. The line is single track north and south of the station and the layout of the yard can be clearly seen on this board. The black lines are un-signaled tracks next to the old platforms.

11. This is an inside image of the elevated signal control box at Paknam Pho. This room is rather basic with no aircon for the staff but it wasn’t too hot on the day I was there.

12. This is a general view of the former passenger platforms at Paknam Pho. These platforms and station building are cut off from the main lines. Therefore it is only a place to purchase your tickets before you cross all of the yard tracks and main lines before waiting trackside under the signal box.

13. This is another general view of the yard and tracks at Paknam Pho. Taken looking north east. On the left are the old passenger platforms to the right is the signal box.

14. This is an image of a 4 wheel brake van stored in one of the yard roads at Paknam Pho. These older 4 wheel brake vans rarely see much action these days due to the better performing bogie brake vans used on most cargo trains.

15. This is an inside shot of the 4 wheel brake van. It hasn’t seen use for many years judging by the state of the inside.

14. This is a general view of the yard and workshop area to the west of the station. The loco in the middle of the image is used for shunting duties at Paknam Pho.

15. This is a shot of SRT loco number 4223. Taken looking north east from within the workshop yard at Paknam Pho. Loco type Alstrom. This loco is used for shunting of cargo trains.

16. This is another angle on SRT loco 4223 at Paknam Pho yard. Note this loco seems to leak large amounts of black oil onto the ground where it is stored when not in use.

17. This is a general view of the old railway workshop at Paknam Pho taken looking west. In the foreground the turntable can be seen. At some point in the past 4 locos would have been stored inside the shed.

18. This is a close up shot of the turntable at Paknam Pho. During the rainy season the pit area of the turntable fills up with water. This turntable is hand operated normally by two staff members. But it is rarely used today.

19. This is an inside shot of the old workshop at Paknam Pho. It seems to be used mostly to store train wheels and oil drums plus a range of tools.

20. This is another angle of the inside of the old workshop. The oil drums can be seen taking up a large part of the workshop.

21. This is a shot of the tools and wheels inside the workshop. Behind the wooden slat wall is a tool shop where parts can be fabricated for the workshop.

22. This is an image looking north east from next to the turntable in the workshop. Two preserved railway steam cranes can be seen. In the foreground is part of a steam train cab that is used for a lunch area.

23. This is a close up shot of one of the old steam cranes next to the workshop at Paknam Pho. This steam crane was manufactured by Thomas Smith & Sons of Rooley Leeds in the UK. The age is unknown or when it was imported to Thailand.

24. This is a close upshot of the larger old steam crane next to the workshop at Paknam Pho. This steam crane was manufactured by the same company as the smaller one. The company that manufactured them in the UK probably closed down decades ago. It is rumored that SRT preserved a lot of this old steam age equipment in the event that world oil supplies ran out.

25. This is an image of a pair of covered bogie cargo vans stored in the Paknam Pho yard. These appear to be in good working order and a recent paint job.

26. This is an image of an older style Bogie Crude oil tank wagon. Stored in the Paknam Pho Yard. There is only one of these in yard it may have had some problems and was dumped in the yard.

27. This is a shot of a very old 4 wheel box car wagon. It appears it used to carry animals as it is well ventilated at the top.

28. This is a shot of another old 4 wheel covered van and low side flat wagons stored in the Paknam Pho Yard. These date back to when SRT was called RSR “Royal Siam Railways”

29. This is an image of Loco 4223 on its way to shunt some old wagons in the Paknam Pho yard. Taken looking north east.

30. This is a shot of Loco 4223 with a rake of old wagons as it prepares to move them to another part of the yard. The staff member walking behind the wagons helps to couple and uncouple them.

31. This is a shot of SRT loco 4229 on an inbound Bangkok intercity train. Taken as it was pulling up to pick up passengers at Paknam Pho station. Loco Type Alstrom.

32. This is a shot of SRT loco 4129 on an outbound Crude oil cargo train. Taken from the elevated signal box at Paknam Pho as it came to a stop. Loco type Alstrom.

33. This is another angle on SRT loco 4129 waiting to depart from Paknam Pho on its way up north with a load of Crude oil. Taken from the elevated Signal Box.

34. This is a short movie of the departure of SRT loco 4129 with a rake of Crude oil wagons from Paknam Pho. Filmed from the elevated signal box. Note the sounds of the loco as it powers up. Also the Brake Van can be seen.

35. This is a shot of the passenger train timetable above the ticket office window at Paknam Pho station. Oddly it appears the 16.46 Special Express DMU is not listed.

36. This is a shot of the ticket window at Paknam Pho station. Note the case of “Engrish” on the sign above the window. It’s meant to say “Please request a receipt for ticket refunds”

37. This is a shot of SRT loco 4146 taken as it was passing though Paknam Pho with a load of Crude oil tanks. This Alstrom loco is in very good condition it appears it’s been overhauled and repainted recently.

38. This is a shot of SRT BBV 50006 taken as it was passing by on a Crude oil train. This style of brake van has replaced most of the 4 wheel brake vans on SRTs cargo trains.

39. This is a close up of a platform sign at Paknam Pho. This sign indicates the distance to the next station up and down the line.

40. This is an image of an SRT DMU passing though at high speed on a Sawan Khalok Special express train. This DMU is imported from the UK and is a UK class 158. However they have really crappy aircon and appear to be only used on this Sawan Khalok service. Due to the light axle load needed for that line.

41. This is a shot of SRT loco 4131 on an outbound passenger train as it made a stop at Paknam Pho. This station is mostly used by SRT workers and a small number of locals. Loco type Alstrom.

42. This is a shot of a crude oil cargo train on its approach to Paknam Pho station. Taken as it rounds the curve at the north eastern end of the station and loop.

43. This is an image of SRT loco 4202 as it was put away in the yard at Paknam Pho with a rake of crude oil tank wagons. The train is about 600 meters long.

44. This is a short movie of a SRT staff member uncoupling the middle wagons of the Oil tank cargo train at Paknam Pho. They do this to allow pedestrian access across the middle of the yard. Otherwise people would have to walk around the cargo train or climb over or under it to access the station buildings.

45. This is a shot of SRT DMU 1118 Taken as it was approaching Paknam Pho. DMU type Hitachi. This service is a rural commuter train stopping at all stations between Phitsanulok and Lopburi.

46. This is a movie of the Hitachi DMU as it departs from Paknam Pho Station and makes it way to Lopburi. Note the lack of a platform for passengers and the sounds of the DMU. The white line on the video is from really bad reflections off the top of the train. Also a general view of the rail yard can be seen.

47. This is a shot of a Daewoo DMU taken as it approached Paknam Pho to take me back to Bangkok. This train is not listed on the platform timetable at Paknam Pho and I was the only person boarding it. SRT DMU number 2543. This DMU has reasonable air conditioning. It is also the fastest train in all of Thailand with a top speed of 120kph.

48. This is an inside shot of the Daewoo DMU taken looking towards the drivers cab. For an SRT train this unit was in good condition and had working aircon unlike my last trip on this type of DMU.

49. This is an image of the tickets used for this photographing trip. The 1st ticket was 2nd class non aircon seats and the 2nd ticket is for 2nd class aircon seats. The total cost was 552 baht.

I hope you find the pictures and vehicles shown to be of interest if you view this please post some comments and feelings about the pictures.

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