The Maeklong Line was built as a short private coastal line around 107 years ago by the Maeklong railway company. This line is the second part of the Maeklong commuter railway system. The system consists of the Wong Wien Yai to Mahachai and the Ban Laem to Maeklong lines. This line was taken over by the “City of Maeklong” and SRT in the 1960s. This line has one of the lowest line speeds in Thailand averaging only 30kph for the whole line. With large sections under 20kph.
Today the line is operated by a single Japanese DMU railcar. SRT unit numbers 1210 and 1213. These where built in the 1980s in Japan for use as commuter DMUs on the main system and for use on the Maeklong commuter system. The Maeklong line only has one train set available for use at anytime. This is due to the line being 100% isolated from any other railway.
As a result of this the dedicated people at SRT have to make sure that the train keeps running in service no matter what. This unit hit a truck in 2006 and damaged the front end. They have tried to patch up the damage recently with sheets of metal and some kind of glue. No Freight trains operate on this line passenger trains only operate now days. Freight did operate in the past. Also this line does not have a signal system like is found on the main system or on other railways around the world. There is only one train it is not possible for it hit another train.
The train timetable for this line is:
Ban Laem to Maeklong runs at 7.30 am, 10.10 am, 1.10 pm and 4.40 pm.
Maeklong to Ban Laem runs at 6.20 am, 9.00 am, 11.30 am and 3.30 pm.
The trip takes 1 hour end to end.
PICTURE QUALITY NOTES: Due to the pictures being taken late in the day some images may be darker or brighter than normal as the sun was low in the sky and behind the train most of the way. Also this line is very hard to photograph due to the dirty windows on the ends of the train and the trains rough motion.
1. This is an image of the Ban Laem station area. The starting point for my journey on the Maeklong line. To get here you take a cross-river ferry from Mahachai city. Taken looking west from the remains of the Ban Laem rail yard.
2. Another view of Ban Laem station. Looking east towards the river. The building next to the rail tractor is the ticket office.
3. This is an image of SRT Rail tractor Unit 17. This appears to have been used to carry ballast for the line in the past. It’s not known if it still works, as it has not moved an inch in years.
4. Another angle on the rail tractor. The age of this rail vehicle is not known. Taken from next to the ticket office.
5. This is the train timetable at Ban Laem station. The trains are almost always on time and the times are very rarely changed.
6. This is the remains of an old DMU that fell apart in the rail yard at Ban Laem. The type is unknown. But it looks similar to some old DMUs used on SRTs Issan lines.
7. This is an image of the platform track at Ban Laem station. The last time the rails where replaced was in 1912.
8. This is an image of the last up train for the day approaching Ban Laem station. Note the lifting jacks and the track quality here. Also the last remains of the yard junction is visible.
9. The train has almost arrived at Ban Laem. The platform here is curved. SRT Train Unit 1210.
10. This is an image of the damaged Train unit 1213. They have tried to repair it using sheet metal and glue. This train hit a truck sometime in 2006 and for along time the damage was clearly visible. The accident pushed the wall and frame back around the drivers cab.
11. This is another image showing the damage to train unit 1213. Taken while sitting in the platform road at Ban Laem station waiting to depart on the last trip for the day to maeklong.
12. This is an image of the passenger area of the train. A lot of school students take this last train home.
13. Another inside image looking though from one car to the other. On the right are the toilets.
14. This is a shot of the rear driver’s cab of unit 1210. They don’t bother locking up the driver’s cab here. Note the condition of the controls etc.
15. This is track just after leaving Tha Chalom station note the closeness of the homes and the quality of the track. Taken from the rear driver’s cab.
16. This is a shot of one of the many humpback rail bridges on this line taken near Ban Chi Phakhao station.
17. The station sign at Ban Chi Phakhao station. This is one of the middle of nowhere stations that serve areas where people have no access to roads.
18. This is an image of a typical section of track on the Maeklong line. Note the lovely track quality.
19. This is a short movie showing the ride quality of the Maeklong train and its rear driving cab. Most for the line runs though salt farms and prawn farms. The track is very rough and in poor condition for most of the line.
20. This is Khlong Nok Lek Station. This is another middle of nowhere station. Taken from the rear driver’s cab just after the train has started to leave the station. Note the people who use the station.
21. This is Bang Si Khot station. Yet another middle of nowhere station. This station has a small dirt road leading to it.
22. This is an image of minor track flooding. Often this water can be seawater that has inundated the land in this area. The railway is less than 2 km from the sea here.
23. This is a typical level crossing on the Maeklong line. No lights, No booms and No signs. A couple of locals cross the line on Motorbikes. In the background the dark area of the track is from earlier track flooding.
24. This is a shot of another humpback rail bridge.
25. This is Bang Krachao station. Note the simple station facilities and the evidence of track flooding from the morning. Homes to the south of the railway line tend to have very limited road access if at all.
26. Another example of a humpback rail bridge. Also the road bridges tend to be steep humpback bridges as well. The reason for the humpback bridges is the requirement to have boat access on most klongs in this area. Taken near Ban Bo station.
27. This is a movie showing what its like to ride the Maeklong train over one of the many humpback rail bridges. It can be quite bumpy plus it slows the train down as the humpback bridge creates a steep grade up and then down.
28. This is Ban Bo station one of the larger stations on the line.
29. This is Bang Thorut Station. The sign is all that there is at this station. Like most stations on this line it does get used.
30. This is a pic showing the lovely track quality and short 5 metre rail lengths.
31. This is Ban Ka Long station. A truck-bus also operates to here from Mahachai city.
32. This is Ban Na Khwang station. This is where Rama 2 road crosses the Maeklong line. The station is built under the road bridge.
33. This is Ban Na Kok station. It just has a small concrete platform. Note the lovely track quality here.
34. This is Ked Muang station. This is the 1st station in the “City of Maeklong”.
35. This is Lad Yai station the second last stop before Maeklong station. Note the booms and lights in the background no longer work.
36. This is a Movie of the final approach and the passing of the train though the Maeklong railway market. This film shows why this railway is so special for rail fans and tourists. It’s the way this market opens and closes around the moving train. This occurs 8 times a day every day of the week. Maeklong station is the end of the market and the line.
37. This Maeklong station. The end of the line. This is the ticket office. Buses are available here to Pak Tho and Ratchburi on the main south line. These buses take about an hour to get there.
38. The market after the train has been though. All back to normal. The market is quieter now as it’s close to the end of the working day.
39. This is an image of the train ticket I used on the train. The large printed ticket at the bottom is the Maeklong line ticket. The smaller tickets are the intercity bus tickets. These are not always issued to every passenger.
This is an overview of the Maeklong line as it stands now and has for the last 107 years. However this line is being considered for a major upgrade within the next 15 years. This upgrade will put an end to the railway market. The upgrade will involve running a 4 track tunnel from Hualamphong to somewhere after Talat Phlu station near Bangkok and then running the 4 lines all the way to Mahachai which will be in an new deep underground station along with Ban Laem and Tha Chalom stations.
The Maeklong line its self will be double track in the future and Maeklong station will be deep underground too as the line will be extended to Pak Tho and become the new main south line as it cuts 90 minutes off the journey time for trains on the current main south line. Also the line speeds will be increased from an average of 30 kph to 120kph after the upgrade. For the moment this project is still at planning stage. However, if you want to see or ride this line its best to make the trip in the next few years as it may not exist in its current form forever.
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.