Thailand’s first-ever railway line was built by Danes

 

A railway track built by Danish engineers during King Rama V’s reign.

In the Embassy of Denmark in Bangkok’s most recent update in their series of “ON THIS DAY”, the embassy shares this interesting historical fact about Thailand’s first-ever railway line:

On the day – 16 July 1891

On this day, King Chulalongkorn initiated the construction of the first-ever railway line in Thailand – a railway line, which was built by Danes

After King Chulalongkorn visited Europe in 1886, where he traveled by train and was introduced to the concept of railway management, he decided to establish a railway in Siam.

The King foresaw that a railway line from Bangkok to Samut Prakan would contribute greatly to the economic capabilities of Siam and therefore he decided to establish The Paknam Railway.

The King handed a 20-year concession to the Danish company, The Paknam Railway Co. Ltd., which had been established by the Danish brothers Andreas and Louis de Richelieu and Alfred John Loftus, a British navigator. The company began construction on this very day in 1891 and in April 1893 the railway was completed. The Paknam Railway became the only privately owned railway in Siam and it quickly became popular and, thus, a lucrative business for the Danish brothers.

As competition with buses and private cars increased after World War II, the railway slowly lost its popularity and by the 1950s, the railway was operating at a loss.

In 1959, the Paknam Railway was closed down to allow for the construction of Rama IV Road, but it once again emphasizes the close infrastructure collaboration between Denmark and Thailand at the end of the 19th century.

The new railway is expanded. Materials are stacked on the left of the tracks
Photo credit: Museum Østjylland
Elephants were used to pull materials through the terrain.
Photo Credit: Museum Østjylland

About Mette Larsen

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Thailand

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