Tips for Taking Pictures of the Steam Train on the King’s Birthday

The first steam train trip in a few years is due to leave Hua Lamphong station on the King’s Birthday at 8 a.m. The destination for this day trip is Ayutthaya. The train is due to return at about 4:30 p.m. If you haven’t bought any of the 500 tickets yet then I am afraid you are too late. The tickets quickly sold out this year. However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot go and take pictures of the steam train. I took this first picture at 7:20 a.m. at Hua Lamphong Station. In theory you need to buy a platform ticket, though they let me pass the barrier without doing so. I think a lot of people wanted to have their picture taken with the train.

I have done the steam train trip to Ayutthaya before. It was an exciting experience, but really, this is your view for the long and slow journey. Yes, you do get to hear the distinctive whistle every now and then, and you might catch a glimpse of the boiler if you go around a sharp bend, but for most of the journey, it could just as well be on an ordinary train. I spent most of my time looking out of the window looking at the expressions of people at railway crossings.

The other year I decided to do it a bit different. Instead of riding the train, I waited for it to arrive at Bang Sue station. This way I could have the experience of seeing a steam train approach from the distance. That was a lot of fun as I could hear the whistle blowing long before the steam train appeared. I also managed to get some better pictures of the train in action. Something that is impossible if you are riding it. According to my timestamp, I took this picture at 8:39 a.m. I checked my earlier pictures from when I rode the train and I can confirm that that train arrived at Bang Sue at 8:39 a.m. too.

This year again I am not riding the steam train. But I will be going to take pictures. My plan this year is to get to Hua Lamphong before 7:30 a.m. to take pictures of the steam train at the station. It would be nice to get pictures of  it arriving at Hua Lamphong, but I cannot find out when it arrives yet. The steam train will stop at these stations: Hua Lamphong, Samsen, Bang Sue, Bang Khen, Don Mueang, Lak Si and Bang Pa-in. My original plan was to take pictures at Hua Lamphong and then hop on the MRT underground to Bang Sue. I thought it would be simple as each have a MRT station. But, looking at the map I see that they are at each end of the route and they take a long diversion.

So, my plan at the moment is to go to Hua Lamphong first to get a few pictures and then try and hop on a train heading north to Samsen Station which is the first stop. Then wait for the steam train there. Failing that, I will probably cycle like crazy on my bike. If I had to only choose one station, I wouldn’t choose Hua Lamphong. Mainly because it is under cover there and it is early morning. If I remember right, the sun wasn’t really in a good position. I would think that either Samsen or Bang Sue will have better lighting. If I find out any more tips I will tweet straight away on @RichardBarrow. If you have ever taken pictures of the steam train leaving Bangkok, then please post your tips in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “Tips for Taking Pictures of the Steam Train on the King’s Birthday

  • December 4, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Looking forward for the pictures. Do you know if it is coal or diesel which is used for fuel?

    • December 4, 2012 at 9:15 pm

      According to a news report, they were recently converted “to steam power by using fuel oil”. I presume that means it uses fuel to create steam instead of say wood/coal like it was in the past. So, no black smoke coming out of the chimney?


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