Fine Arts Department wants to protect old railway terminus
The Fine Arts Department (FAD) will register Bangkok's Hua Lamphong railway station as a national heritage in a bid to shield it from development plans.
Nattapong Siriwattanapichet, an archaeologist with the department, said the century-old station is regarded as a historical site although it has not yet been given official national heritage site status.
He said the Act on Ancient Monuments, Antiques, Objects of Art and National Museums BE 2540 (1961) applies to the railway station.
According to Section 4, an "ancient site" refers to an immovable property which, either by its age or architectural characteristics or historical evidence, is useful in the field of art, history or archaeology. This includes archaeological sites, historical sites and historic parks.
Meanwhile, Section 10 of the act states that no one shall repair, modify, alter, demolish, add to, destroy or remove any ancient monument or its parts, or construct any building within the compound of the historical site, except by order of or permit by the FAD director.
"Before the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) decides to renovate the station, it needs to get approval from the Fine Arts Department," he said, referring to its development plans.
Hua Lamphong railway station was constructed in 1910 during the reign of King Rama V and completed in 1916 under King Rama VI.
"The station has historical value and outstanding architecture that should be reserved," Mr Nattapong said.
About a year ago, the archaeological team at the FAD surveyed the site to draft a conservation plan. The team will soon suggest how much of the site should be conserved, either only the train station or the whole 121-rai compound.
Currently, the plan must get approval from the SRT before the FAD can register Hua Lamphong as a national heritage site, Mr Nattapong said.
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob plans to stop train services at the station and divert trains to the Bang Sue Central Station from Dec 24. He wants to develop the area for commercial purposes. The State Railway Workers' Union of Thailand opposes the Transportation Ministry's plan, saying it would cause problems for commuters.
The SRT will submit its plan to the Transport Ministry on Monday.