Express 51: Bangkok Hua Lamphong to Chiang Mai by Train [Air-Conditioned Second Class Day & Night Coach (ANS32)]

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The Express 51 is a daily overnight train from Bangkok Hua Lamphong to Chiang Mai. While there are 5 daily trains, the Express 51 ranks 4th in priority. It does, however, have a converted Air-Conditioned Second Class Day & Night Coach, from a former Bogie Second Class Day & Night Coach (ie. non-air-conditioned), so I had wanted to try the converted coach out.

This trip was done on 10 July 2012, 3 years before RailTravel Station was launched, so I seek your understanding if the pictures are not up to usual standards since I had no plans to write about them when I took the trip 8 years ago.

NOTE: The Air-Conditioned Second Class Day & Night Coach (ANS32) is no longer found on the Express 51. The Express 51 now uses Air-Conditioned Second Class Day & Night Coach ( JR-WEST ) (ANSJR) coaches for its second class sleeper services.

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There was a book fair at Bangkok Hua Lamphong Railway Station during my departure.

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As my Express 51 wasn’t a high priority train, I didn’t get to use the grand Platforms 4 or 5.

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My Express 51 would be departing from Platform 8. However, as I got to Bangkok Hua Lamphong Railway Station way earlier than necessary, my train wasn’t shunted in yet.

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Over at Platform 4, there was some manual maintenance going on with staff changing out ballast by hand.

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I was seated in Car 13. This would be the sole Air-conditioned Second Class Day & Night Coach (ANS32) attached.

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The interior of my Air-conditioned Second Class Day & Night Coach (ANS32) with the bogie restaurant staff hard at work selling dinner already.

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I was seated in Berth 20. Bedding was done up already before boarding as this was a late-night departure. A luggage rack was available beside my berth to place my bag.

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A sealed blanket was readied for me on my bed.

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The view of the upper berth.

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Upper berth passengers can store their belongings on the meshed luggage rack.

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The only other air-conditioned coach attached is the Air-Conditioned Second Class Carriage (ASC).

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The only other sleeper coach attached is the Bogie Second Class Day & Night Coach (BNS).

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The view out of my window before departure from Bangkok Hua Lamphong Railway Station.

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A cold shower is provided in the toilet.

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Only squat toilets are available on this coach.

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A separate urinal is also provided though I feel it’s a bit redundant.

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Waking up to the vast scenery of northern Thailand.

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Making a brief stop at Phichai.

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Crossing with a Daewoo 3-car DMU at Phichai. I’m not sure if this is the Special Express 4 from Sawankhalok and Sila At to Bangkok as the crossing timing doesn’t match with the current (2020) timetable.

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More rural scenery towards the north.

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Passing by a rusting Davenport locomotive.

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Passing by an active Davenport locomotive.

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Making a brief stop at Sila At.

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As I’m rather awake with my breakfast still not served at my berth yet, I headed to the Bogie Restaurant Car (BRC) to check if I could have my breakfast served.

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Looks like breakfast is all ready to be served in a few minutes.

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I was invited by the waitress to have my breakfast in the Bogie Restaurant Car (BRC) if I wanted to, but the spring bogies made it difficult to stand, and I think I know what would happen if I tried to drink coffee on board it. I opted to have it back at my berth.

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Passing through the Bogie Second Class Carriage (BSC). Only 1 such coach is attached on the Express 51.

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Passing through the Bogie Third Class Carriage (BTC) which forms the bulk of the train.

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Hilly terrain showing up.

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My “Eggs” breakfast was nicely served on a tray. Talk about breakfast in bed. You don’t need a luxury train when the regular Express train does it.

NOTE: Unfortunately, due to low passenger demand and high cost of operations, restaurant car services have ceased on all Thai trains except for those using CRRC Changchun coaches and the Thaksin Express. This is very unfortunate. Passengers may continue to purchase food from on-board hawkers.

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Taking a sharp curve.

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Arriving at Den Chai.

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Making a brief stop at Den Chai.

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Quickly departing as the train was late already.

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I headed back to the BRC to try out a small meal of Chocolate Cookies or Cream Soup but unfortunately they weren’t available, neither was anything left.

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I checked on the mains but they do not serve it as they follow the normal serving time and not the delayed train schedule. Oh well.

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Making a brief stop at Mae Mo.

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Crossing with a local train at Mae Mo.

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The station master clearing my train for departure.

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The scenery changes again.

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Making a brief stop at Nakhon Lampang.

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A rare view of the rear of a Davenport locomotive.

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Taking another curve.

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Simultaneously crossing with a local train at Mae Tan Noi at slow speed.

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Mae Tan Noi is located on an S curve.

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Making a brief stop at Khun Tan.

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Heading on to the highlands.

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More rural scenery.

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Making a brief stop at Lamphun.

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At about 2pm, the Express 51 finally arrived at Chiang Mai – a delay of almost 2 hours, making the journey approximately 16 hours.

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The nice, green platform of Chiang Mai Railway Station.

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The Special Express 2 Nakhon Phing was stabled beside the platform, along with the Special Express 14, my train back to Bangkok.

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My next Special Express 14 was stabled further away with a Hitachi locomotive standing by already.

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The station sign of Chiang Mai Railway Station.

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A photo opportunity at Chiang Mai Railway Station of the mock-up of Khun Tan Tunnel with a preserved trolley going through it.

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As this was purely a train trip, plus with the almost 2-hour delay, I didn’t head into Chiang Mai city but just waited around the station for my next train back to Bangkok.

Overall, a pleasant experience on board the Express 51 with the converted ANS32 being way more comfortable than I thought it might be. The many non-air-conditioned coaches attached on board also allows me to breathe fresh air on board and take photos along the journey, though the powerful air-conditioning in the ANS32 made my camera frost too many times. A happy problem though.

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