Thailand's 'Floating Train' Gives Riders an Up-Close View of a Crumbling World

Thailand's 'Floating Train' Gives Riders an Up-Close View of a Crumbling World

state railway of thailand crosses track across flooded area -- appears to float above the water

Photo: State Railway of Thailand

Scenic trains are all the rage. A nice, smooth ride, a gorgeous view, the full knowledge that you don’t have to operate a vehicle and can simply enjoy the sights — it’s a wonderful combination. A scenic train that passes directly over water, making it seem like you’re floating, sounds like an incredible sightseeing experience. If only the reasons for all that water weren’t so terrifying.

The State Railway of Thailand is bringing back a seasonal tourist train from Bangkok to the Pa Sak Jolasid Dam, making a round trip for people who want to view the sights from atop a three-mile-long levee. This year, with high water levels, the sights should be even more spectacular — if ever more concerning.

state railway of thailand crossing floodwaters on what looks to be a floating set of tracks

Photo: State Railway of Thailand

See, those high water levels follow Thailand’s regular monsoon season. Monsoons mean rain, so higher-than-normal levels in reservoirs aren’t really unexpected. But officials have specifically called out this year’s levels as extraordinary, and it’s all thanks to climate change.

Climate change has made for wild fluctuations in Thailand’s ecosystem, causing both droughts and floods in recent years. Clearly, this is a crisis for the country’s inhabitants — but one that the State Railway is all too willing to profit from. By selling tickets for a sightseeing train, and touting the high water levels as a selling point, the railway is directly capitalizing on a situation that has caused untold damage for Thai citizens.

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Of course, the two can be split in the mind of a train rider. This is just a bit of extra water — no one’s bringing a bag of popcorn to go watch a flood. But as extreme weather events in the country increase, and more people are affected by floods and droughts, it gets harder and harder to bisect the awe-inspiring from the awful.