THE MAE KLONG RAILWAY LINE

by Richard Barrow

The Mae Klong Railway that goes from Bangkok to Samut Songkhram is an unusual line as it is not connected to the rest of the rail network in Thailand. This is because it started life at the start of the 20th Century as a private line to transport goods from the fishing ports in Samut Songkhram and Samut Sakhon to Bangkok. However, since the 1950’s it was handed over to the State Railway of Thailand and became a passenger railway. The terminal station in Bangkok is Wongwian Yai. The original terminal station used to be by the Chao Phraya river next to Khlong San canal.

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The total length of the line is 67 kilometers, however it is split into two stretches as there is no railway bridge over the Tha Chin River. The first stretch is 33 kilometers and goes from Wongwian Yai Station in Bangkok to Mahachai Station in Samut Sakhon. You then have to cross the river on a boat to the train station on the other side. The second stretch is 34 kilometers and goes from Ban Laem Station in Samut Sakhon to Mae Klong Station in Samut Songkhram.

MAP OF THE MAE KLONG RAILWAY

There are 18 stations between Wongwian Yai and Mahachai and 15 stations between Ban Laem and Mae Klong. Each stretch takes about one hour. Although it will only take you five minutes to take a boat across the river, the entire journey will take much longer as the arrival and departure times in Samut Sakhon don’t all match up. This is because the first stretch is more popular and has 17 trains a day and the second stretch on the other side of the river only has four trains a day.

THE MAHACHAI RAILWAY (BANGKOK TO SAMUT SAKHON)

The price of the ticket from Wongwian Yai station in Bangkok to Mahachai station in Samut Sakhon is 10 Baht for 3rd Class (fan) and 25 Baht for 2nd Class (air-con). Though not every train has an air-con carriage. The best morning train for the connection in Samut Sakhon is at 8:35 a.m. This gets in at 9:28 a.m. and you then have about half an hour to take the ferry boat to the other side of the river to catch the 10:10 a.m. train to Samut Songkhram. When I went recently, I took the 7:40 a.m. train from Bangkok which gave me an hour and a half to explore the market and then cross the river to catch the 10:10 a.m. train.

Visit the Wongrian Yai Station page for more information.

TIMETABLE FOR THE MAHACHAI RAILWAY

TRAIN No. WONGWIAN YAI – – -> MAHACHAI TRAIN No. MAHACHAI – – -> WONGWIAN YAI
4303 5:30am 6:23am 4302 4:30am 5:23am
4311 6:25am 7:27am 4310 5:20am 6:16am
4321 (AC) 7:00am 7:58am 4320 (AC) 5:55am 6:53am
4341 7:40am 8:39am 4340 6:25am 7:28am
4305 8:35am 9:28am 4304 7:00am 7:56am
4313 9:40am 10:36am 4312 8:00am 9:03am
4323 (AC) 10:40am 11:39am 4322 (AC) 9:35am 10:31am
4343 12:15pm 1:10pm 4342 10:40am 11:38am
4315 1:20pm 2:15pm 4314 11:45am 12:43pm
4325 (AC) 2:25pm 3:22pm 4324 (AC) 1:15pm 2:13pm
4317 3:25pm 4:27pm 4316 2:25pm 3:18pm
4307 4:30pm 5:26pm 4306 3:25pm 4:19pm
4327 (AC) 5:05pm 6:02pm 4326 (AC) 4:00pm 4:55pm
4345 5:35pm 6:36pm 4344 4:30pm 5:28pm
4309 6:35pm 7:30pm 4308 5:35pm 6:25pm
4329 (AC) 7:10pm 8:04pm 4328 (AC) 6:10pm 7:01pm
4347 8:10pm 9:00pm 4346 7:00pm 7:59pm

All times are subject to change. AC stands for air-conditioned carriage. Last updated in February 2020. Please note, the nickname for Samut Sakhon city is Mahachai.

THE MAE KLONG RAILWAY (SAMUT SAKHON TO SAMUT SONGKHRAM)

The price of the ticket from Samut Sakhon to Samut Songkhram is 10 Baht for 3rd Class (fan). There are no 2nd Class carriages on this route. If you caught the 8:35 a.m. train from Wongwian Yai, you should arrive in Samut Songkhram at 11:10 a.m. If you then stay at the station to watch the 11:30 a.m. train depart through the market, you will then have to wait for four hours until the next and last train back to Bangkok departs at 3:30 p.m. You can either take a minivan or bus back to Bangkok, which is actually quicker, or do a side trip to Amphawa Floating Market. And then catch a minivan from there back to Bangkok.

TIMETABLE FOR THE MAE KLONG RAILWAY

TRAIN No. BAN LAEM – – -> MAE KLONG TRAIN No. MAE KLONG – – -> BAN LAEM
4381 7:30am 8:30am 4380 6:20am 7:20am
4383 10:10am 11:10am 4382 9:00am 10:00am
4385 1:30pm 2:30pm 4384 11:30am 12:30pm
4387 4:40pm 5:40pm 4386 3:30pm 4:30pm

All times are subject to change. Last updated in February 2020. Please note, the nickname for Samut Songkhram city is Maeklong.

THE “FOLDING UMBRELLA MARKET” 

The highlight of the Mae Klong Railway is the famous market on the train tracks in Samut Songkhram. In Thai, this is called Talad Rom Hup (ตลาดร่มหุบ) or Folding Umbrella Market. This refers to the awnings that have to be pulled back every time a train passes. Fortunately, there are only eight trains a day. In recent years, this market has been discovered by tour groups and you can often find hundreds of tourists here in the morning all trying to take the same picture. I first went here by train back in 2006 when it wasn’t as popular with foreigners. This is my blog post from that day trip, A Ride on the Maeklong Railway. If you go, please be careful as it can be dangerous. People have been hurt. The trains pass through the market at 6:20am, 8:30am, 9:00am, 11:10am, 11:30am, 2:30pm, 3:30pm and 5:40pm. All times on this page are subject to change.

HISTORY

The Mae Klong Railway was built in two separate stages. The Tachin Railway Ltd, founded in 1901 with a concession from the crown of Thailand to construct a line to Samut Sakhon from Bangkok, built the 33 kilometer Mahachai Line; it opened in 1904 with eight stations. A year later, The Maeklong Railway Company opened the 34 kilometer Ban Laem Line. The lines merged in 1907 to form the Maeklong Railway Ltd. It was originally opened as a goods line, transporting produce from the fishing ports of Samut Sakhon and Samut Songkram to the Bangkok markets.The Thai military gained control of the railway in 1942, during World War II, and the line was nationalised by the Thai Government in 1946. The line was operated by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) from 1952 and was fully merged into the SRT in 1955. In 1961 the line’s original terminus at Khlong San was closed and replaced with a bus stop, to ease traffic congestion in Bangkok. Wongwian Yai became the new terminus. [Source: Wikipedia]

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