Special Excursion 921/926: Bangkok to Pa Sak Jolasid Dam by Seasonal Excursion Train

Lopburi and Saraburi is around 3 hours away from Bangkok. While not in itself a well-known place to visit, once a year during the November – January period, the sunflowers bloom and the Pa Sak Jolasid Dam gets full. As such, the State Railway of Thailand runs a seasonal Pa Sak Jolasid Dam Excursion Train with a one-day trip from Bangkok specially for this unique time of the year.

Running dates of the Pa Sak Jolasid Dam Excursion Train for the Nov 2017 – Jan 2018 season:

  • 18, 19, 25, 26 November 2017
  • 2, 3, 9 ,10, 16, 17, 23, 24 December 2017
  • 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 January 2018

A round-trip ticket costs 270 Baht.

Tickets are only sold at SRT stations, or call 1690 to reserve (domestic). Do note that there are no stops at the sunflower fields this season.

The Pa Sak Jolasid Dam Excursion Train departs from Bangkok Hua Lamphong Railway Station. Along the way, the train will also make stops at Sam Sen, Bang Sue Junction, Bang Khen, Lak Si, Don Mueang, Rangsit, Ayutthaya, Saraburi, Kaeng Khoi Junction and Kaeng Suea Ten.

The Pa Sak Jolasid Dam Excursion Train is scheduled to depart from Bangkok at 7.10am.

The train is ready for her passengers at Platform 5, possibly taking the slot of the Special Excursion 909 to Kanchanaburi and Nam Tok Sai Yok Noi which departed earlier at 6.30am since the latter’s destination board is lying on the floor. If in doubt of which platform the train departs from, just follow the many camera-welding passengers taking selfies beside the train.


This 15-car train will take 1110 passengers on the one day trip to Pa Sak Jolasid Dam.



My seat is in Car Number 2, which is very ideal as it’s towards the front of the train which makes it easier for photos later on at the dam.

GEA 4553 gets ready to take the first train of the end-2017 season to Pa Sak Jolasid Dam and thereafter to Khok Salung.

Inside the Bogie Third Class Carriage.

My tickets for the round trip journey from Bangkok to Pa Sak Jolasid Dam and Khok Salung.

I almost missed this out and thought that the train didn’t have seat numbers printed, but it was pinned at the corner of the seat. Remember to look around and not just on the walls of the train for the seat number.

Departing Bangkok.

A short while after, a staff hands out the itinerary of the journey together with a walking map of Pa Sak Jolasid Dam’s vicinity.

Unfortunately everything was in Thai. Well, this train is meant more for domestic tourists anyway.

Approaching Bang Sue Junction to pick up more passengers.

Shortly after departure from Bang Sue, the conductor comes around in my coach to check for tickets.

Heading straight northwards from Bang Sue.

More passengers board from Bang Khen.

And even more from Don Mueang.

The 15-car train almost exceeded the platform at Don Mueang.

On the way to Ayutthaya.

Passing by Bang Pa-In Railway Station.

There is also a royal pavilion for the Royal Family when they use the train to travel to the Bang Pa-In Royal Palace.


Cornering a bend on approach to Ayutthaya.

More passengers fill up the train here.

Almost all 74 seats on the train car gets filled by this time.

The conductor does his second wave of ticket checks for those who just came on board.

After that, another staff comes around to hold a lucky draw of sorts. It was something to do with the ticket number, but I couldn’t really understand. Anyway, the ride was more important than the prize of a pocket notebook (I think).

Anyway, the TPIPL locomotive at Ban Phachi Junction was a lot more important.


Heading straight instead of the turn for Chiang Mai.

If you’re hungry along the way, local vendors are also available on board selling drinks and snacks at local prices.

At Kaeng Khoi Junction, the train will split off towards Pa Sak Jolasid Dam on the Lam Narai Branch Line which will lead onwards to Nong Khai via Lam Narai and Bua Yai Junction.


Splitting off from the Northeastern Main Lines.

The Hitachi (RHN) railcar on training with Cambodian railway staff before being donated to Cambodia to serve on the Aranyaprathet – Poipet line.

Heading towards Pa Sak Jolasid Dam.


For the Nov 2017 – Jan 2018 season, the train does not make a stop at the sunflower fields as they haven’t bloomed yet.



Another RHN set operating as Ordinary 440 from Bua Yai Junction to Kaeng Khoi Junction, crossing with my train at Hin Son.

JR West train graveyard at Hin Son.

Two JNR KiHa 58 sets still looking relatively in tact. Wish they were at least converted to non-airconditioned third class coaches though, but then again SRT probably has an excess of it already.



Some cheery sunflowers on the way nearing to Pa Sak Jolasid Dam.


Approaching Pa Sak Jolasid Dam station. Do NOT alight here if you are taking the excursion train. The main highlight is up ahead.


More people fill up the train from this station, probably with standing tickets.


An SRT officer briefing the car on what to expect later on.

With the coaches filled to the brim, the train departs for the key highlight of the trip.

The excursion train takes you over the reservoir for a fantastic view.


Be sure to keep to the right side of the train towards Khok Salung if you want the view of the vast reservoir, which kind of reminds me of Lake Baikal.

And if the view isn’t enough for you, the train makes a scheduled 30 minute photography stop in the middle of the viaduct.


Watch your step as you alight. If you prefer not jumping off the few inches of trackbed, SRT has also provided steps for you to properly descend to the walking path.

The key highlight would be taking photos of the train itself in the middle of the viaduct. Nowhere in the world would you probably hear a train company thinking “Hey this spot of track is nice, why not we just stop right here and sell tickets to this spot” and actually successfully selling out by trainloads way ahead of scheduled departure.

Lots of selfies going on here.

Be careful not to fall over the viaducts, but if you actually do, not to worry as SRT also has a safety boat ready to rescue you in a couple of seconds. But please don’t try it.

On the viaduct, the SRT officer provides a little bit more details, but most passengers are busy taking photos anyway.

A tour group which just boarded the train also provides some commentary.

Be sure to get a seat at the front of the train or at least walk towards the front of the train before it arrives at Pa Sak Jolasid Dam if you want a clean shot without people blocking the view of the train on the viaduct.

The railway police were also on standby looking out on the passengers, but they seem to be more worried about people standing too close to the edge of the viaduct.

The safety boat patrolling the length of the train.

Here’s a fish which is completely dried up, not sure how it got here though.


The view of the reservoir from inside the train, looking as if the train is a boat.

As the train departs, it’s time for the safety boat to go off duty too, as they raced the train from the back to wave goodbye to the passengers.

After reaching the locomotive, it turned away from the viaduct and returned probably back to their base.

Entering back to the land before arriving at Khok Salung Railway Station.


A form of tractor acting as a local transport at Khok Salung.

Arriving at Khok Salung. The purpose of this layover is to provide a place for the locomotive to turn around to return back to Pa Sak Jolasid Dam station, but SRT being SRT have thought of everything, so…

lots of food and drinks are available here for you to buy during the layover.



Decoupling the locomotive from the train.




The locomotive runs around to continue the Special Excursion 921 to Pa Sak Jolasid Dam. Unlike conventional trains, despite the train now heading in the direction of Bangkok, this train keeps the number of 921 for now even with the reversed direction of travel.

And it’s time to buy some drinks.

An address of sorts for the news.

A peek inside the station master’s office.


The levers to operate the signals and switches of the station, along with King Chulalongkorn’s photo.

The token machines in the office.

Crossing with Ordinary 439 from Kaeng Khoi Junction to Bua Yai Junction.

The locals of Khok Salung waving goodbye to the train as it departs.


So do the stallholders.


Heading back across the reservoir for Pa Sak Jolasid Dam station.


Passing over the spot where the train stopped (between 171 km and 172 km).



Arriving at Pa Sak Jolasid Dam station. This train stops here for 4 hours (3 hours after the delay) for you to roam around.

As Car 2 is now at the back of the train, there’s some walking to do to get to the front of the station.

Along the way, representatives from TAT Lopburi Office hands out their version of the walking map.

The Special Express 921 heading off for cleaning and refuelling, but more importantly to not block the line so that other trains can pass.


Bye bye Special Excursion 921.



Lots of food at the market just outside the station, but most people seem to head straight for the reservoir.

Walking through another market area.

A cultural performance is showcased here…

… but everyone seems to be concentrating on shopping instead.

More snacks available in the market.

If you would like one-dish meals, there is also a food court.

But of course, the key attraction is the Pa Sak Jolasid Dam itself.


I decided to walk to the dam itself.





The dam operates similar to the Marina Barrage, but rather than just keeping water in a giant reservoir, the Pa Sak Joalsid Dam also regulates the flow of the Pa Sak River and prevents flooding in low-lying areas south of the dam and in Bangkok itself.



And with lots of fish due to the aeration of the river at this point, it proves to be a popular spot for fishing as well.



To access the main length of the dam publicly, you can only get on the tram ride.


So returning back to the tram station near the food court, I decided to get myself a ticket.

A regular tram ticket costs 25 Baht for adults and 10 Baht for children. Do take note of the timing on your ticket – it is not a free for all boarding style. The round trip takes about 1 hour, so do keep that in mind especially if you are catching the Special Express 926 departing at 3.30pm – the last tram ticket that you should buy is probably 2pm.

And buy your ticket early too. Though my tram timing was at 1.45pm, I actually bought the ticket at 1pm.

The tram is hauled by a full-fledged tractor.


Do stand behind the red line when the tram is arriving.

Vendors try to sell you photos of yourself on board the tram.


Once fully-seated, a station staff comes around to check for tickets. And they mean business – if you are not on the tram of your stipulated timing, you will get bumped off even if there are empty seats.

Upon departure, the photographers come around hanging from the tram carriages to take your photo.

Running parallel to the railway tracks on the way to the dam.




Passing over the dam.

Entering the restricted area of the earth-filled dam which runs for about 5km.

The height of the water level versus the land level seems pretty obvious here.





Some grazing cows along the way.


The tram stops at the Pasak Chonlasit Dam White Buddha in Saraburi province for about 15 minutes for you to pay respects if you wish.

There is also a shrine for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Beside the tram stop, there are also freshly fried sunflower seeds if you’re in the mood for shopping.

Returning back onto the dam.





As the tram approaches, vendors will come up asking you if you’d like to buy the photo of yourself. But don’t worry, they’re not pushy. Even if you decide to buy one, you have to go to the main counter – they do not sell it to you directly.

From here, I headed back to the station.

The Special Excursion 926 was already ready for departure at 3pm, before most of the passengers came back to the train.



At around 3.25pm, the train blew a long warning horn on its impending departure, and departed right on time at 3.30pm.



Passing by the JR West graveyard.

Would have been a brilliant view if the sunflowers were fully bloomed.


The Ordinary 437 getting ready for departure from Kaeng Khoi Junction to Lam Narai.

The vendors come around the train again, this time selling Roti Sai Mai.

Merging with the Northern Line at Ban Phachi Junction.

As the train approaches the stations where people will start alighting, the SRT officers come around announcing the next station names and holding up signs in case you can’t hear them.

Next station: Ayutthaya



Departing Ayutthaya Railway Station.

The last nice curve before hitting the straight sectors towards Bangkok.


Passing by Bang Pa-In Railway Station.


The brilliant sunset from on board the train.



After Don Mueang, the sky turned into a brilliant shade of golden purple for a short while.

Due to severe delays in Bangkok, the SRT officers came around to inform that it is advisable to alight at Bang Sue Junction and to continue the journey by MRT to wherever you need to go. There would be an additional 1 hour of travel time or so due to both train and traffic jams.

And severe delays it was. Here is the Special Express 31 Thaksinarath at Bang Sue at 6.25pm – more than 3 hours off schedule.

I decided to heed the advice and to continue my journey back to Bangkok by MRT instead.


The Special Excursion 926 arrived at Bang Sue Junction at 6.20pm, about 30 minutes later than scheduled.

Without deviating from the existing qualities of SRT service on other excursion trains such as the Special Excursion Train to Kanchanaburi and Nam Tok Sai Yok Noi, the Pa Sak Jolasid Dam Excursion Train did not disappoint. The timetabling has been well thought of and the full day itinerary feels just right with just enough places to visit. Perhaps with the additional stop at the sunflower fields, hopefully on the next season, I will make a revisit to the Pa Sak Jolasid Dam.

Running dates of the Pa Sak Jolasid Dam Excursion Train for the Nov 2017 – Jan 2018 season:

  • 18, 19, 25, 26 November 2017
  • 2, 3, 9 ,10, 16, 17, 23, 24 December 2017
  • 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 January 2018

A round-trip ticket costs 270 Baht.

Tickets are only sold at SRT stations, or call 1690 to reserve (domestic). Do note that there are no stops at the sunflower fields this season.

 

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3 thoughts on “Special Excursion 921/926: Bangkok to Pa Sak Jolasid Dam by Seasonal Excursion Train

  1. Earthen says:

    Hi I saw you mention Thailand is giving trains to Cambodia. I was wondering what happened to the Malaysian trains now that they have gone electric.
    Do you know when the Aran to Cambodia track opens. Thanks.

    Like

    • RailTravel Station says:

      There is currently no update on the status of the line opening from Aranyaprathet to Poipet. The donation of the railcar by Thailand has no relation to electrified Malaysian trains, though the line from Poipet to Sisophon is partially made up of donated rails which were on the former Rawang – Ipoh single track non-electrified sector.

      Like

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