The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) started services from Bangkok around 1907. With the completion of the Khun Tan Tunnel in 1918 by German engineers (some of whom were interned during the First World War and it is said that about 12 Laotian workers were killed by Tigers whilst building it!). The first train using the extension to Chiang Mai ran in January 1922.
The journey from Uttaradit to Chiang Mai transverses the Khun Tan Mountain Range. The tunnel is the longest and highest in Thailand and this part of the journey from Bangkok is quite spectacular. Chiang Mai Railway Station was destroyed in December 1943 by the Allied bombing of the occupying Japanese forces.
However, maintenance in recent years has been lacking and from January until September 2013 there had been over 27 derailments! Rather than make temporary repairs The SRT suspended services. (from Bangkok terminating at Uttaradit) and is scheduled to reopen from early December.
During this period The SRT has replaced all the old, original sleepers with new concrete ones and have re-laid the tracks.
So a few months back we applied to buy some of the old sleepers not only for historical purposes (there will not be any more!) but for use on the farm as borders.
They are made from Red Wood, 2.5 meters long and weigh 50 Kgs plus! We were allocated 30 sleepers and so last week we sorted out the best we could find amongst hundreds piled high at Chiang Mai Station and it took three trips to take them all up to the farm.
So whenever you visit the farm and see these ‘large pieces of wood’ consider their history and how many thousands of trains, and passengers they have supported over the past 90 years! If only they could talk!