Students fired up over Hua Lamphong

Students fired up over Hua Lamphong

Hua Lamphong Station will cease to serve as Bangkok’s main rail hub next month. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)
Hua Lamphong Station will cease to serve as Bangkok’s main rail hub next month. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)

The student body at Silpakorn University (SU) has voiced opposition to the Transport Ministry's plan to shut down Hua Lamphong station.

In a statement issued jointly by the student body and a committee from the university's archaeology faculty, they said the closure would not support the need for better public transport but on the contrary would make life harder for commuters.

According to the statement, the ministry claimed it wanted to solve Bangkok's traffic problems at railway crossings by stopping rail services from and to the old station.

The move was not a proper solution to traffic problems as claimed by the ministry, the student organisations said, adding they were concerned its closure could serve as a pretext for commercial benefits as opposed to protecting the nation's cultural heritage.

The student groups called on those in power to review and cancel the planned closure and come up with a clear strategy regarding the old station's conservation.

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said on Monday the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) will eventually have to stop operating train services from Hua Lamphong, as the land on which the station is located may have to be cleared to make way for commercial development.

This is expected to bring in 800 billion baht over 30 years, which the SRT needs as it is 600 billion baht in the red, he said before a meeting with the SRT on the matter.

A subsidiary of SRT called SRT Asset Co will carry out the commercial development work on Hua Lamphong station, he said, adding it will also handle the redevelopment of other plots belonging to the SRT including Thon Buri station, Mae Nam station, and Royal City Avenue.

The State Railway Workers' Union of Thailand has also opposed the ministry's plan, saying it would cause problems for commuters.

The Fine Arts Department said it will register the station as a national heritage site to protect it from commercial development.

Hua Lamphong station, which has served as the city's main rail hub for 105 years, is scheduled for decommissioning in late December.

An SRT source said rail services there will cease on Dec 23. The plan sparked outrage as Bang Sue Grand Station, which will function as Bangkok's main rail hub from then onwards, isn't as well-connected to Bangkok's inner-city areas.

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