Kanchanaburi Station

Kanchanaburi City, Thailand | C.1942

Photo Credit: Rachael Taylor

Built in 1942, the Kanchanaburi Railway Station is located in Kanchanaburi City, Thailand. Opened by the Japanese Imperial Army during WW2, the Station holds a harried past born out of the labor of Allied POWs. After the War, the State Railway of Thailand purchased the rail line and reopened the railway station.

Established by Thailand’s King Chulalongkorn, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) was founded in 1890 as the Royal State Railways of Siam (RSR). Six years after construction began, the first part of the Northern Line was inaugurated and open to the public. Less than a decade later, the Southern Line was opened. The RSR would officially change its name to the State Railway of Thailand in 1951.

Years before SRT acquired the railway, WWII touched down in Thailand. The Japanese used Allied POWs to build a railway from Thailand to Burma in order to send supplies to their army without shipping by sea. The working conditions were so bad that many POWs died and the line became known as the “Death Railway”. In 1957, director David Learn captured the story in the film “The Bridge on the River Kwai”.

The remnants of WWII in Kanchanaburi can be seen beyond the confines of the Railway Station. Travelers can still see and ride over the actual Bridge on the River Kwai which is located less than a mile from the railway station. The JEATH War Museum, which chronicles the history of Allied POWs and Asian laborers working on the Death Railway, is also nearby.

Each day, only four trains pass through Kanchanaburi Railway Station – two trains to Nam Tok and two to Bangkok. These trains are one of many in the vast network of the SRT. In 2018, the SRT reported serving 35 million passengers across 47 provinces.

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