Back Stories » Asia » Bangkok Professor Uses Social Media to Save Thailand's Old Train Stations From Demolition

A Bangkok-based university lecturer is raising awareness of the need to save historic railway stations from bulldozers.

TODAY, the Singaporean news site, reports that Parinya Chukaew, a professor of architecture at King Mongkut’s University of Technology Ladkrabang, has launched a social media campaign that aims to save up to half of the country’s 400 older railway stations, a reaction to the government’s plan to demolish them for new development projects.

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) currently has no plan to conserve the stations, nor does it have the budget to do so. As some of the structures are more than a century old, the professor is speaking out on their behalf. Chukaew told the news source: “Frankly, I could accept it if we had to lose 60 or 70 stations in exchange for such development, but not all of them.”

Chukaew has been posting photos of some of the beautiful at-risk stations, and when one is demolished, he documents the rubble. Beyond his online presence, TODAY shares that the professor has been leading study trips to stations with his students.

Parinya Chukaew's campaign seeks to protect old rail stations from being destroyed by new development projects. Photo via The Bangkok Post.

Chukaew’s efforts began to gain momentum last April. The Bangkok Post reported that a 187-kilometer extension project linking Chira Junction to Khon Kaen in northeastern Thailand was set to raze 15 historical stations in its path, and Chukaew began to campaign against the project in earnest. Though the SRT’s top officials remained lukewarm to his outrage, the campaign garnered community support.

As a result, many of the stations have been spared. Chukaew suggested continuing on with the plan to upgrade the rail system while setting a budget to conserve the old stations.

He estimated that for roughly US$40,000 a station, the original architecture could be incorporated into the new design, relocated, or otherwise preserved. He believes this to be a modest budget, the newspaper explains, “especially in the context of a project worth several hundred billion baht like the double-track railway project.”

However, the Thai government appears to be embracing the new and releasing the old. Just last week, they green-lit a US$5.5 billion railway project linking the country to southern China via Laos.

[Photo via Thai Visa]

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