Hellfire Pass in Kanchanaburi Thailand is the name given to a railway cutting on the “Death Railway” or Thai-Burma Railway built by the Japanese during the second world war. Most people are aware that this railway was built using Prisoners of War labor but not everyone is aware of the death toll of the many civilian laborers from surrounding countries including Malaysia and China.
Death Railway gained its’ name due to the extremely high death toll and severe treatment of the laborers.
Hellfire Pass gained its’ name due to the hellish conditions experienced here. At night, the sight of impoverished workers slaving under torchlight in the extreme tropical heat was said to resemble a scene from Hell. Read wiki article.
Hellfire Pass is one of the most infamous sections of the Death Railway and is around 600 meters in length. Work started on the 25th of April 1943 (note that date) with clearing of the vegetation and earth to expose the rock so the cutting could begin.
The cutting known as Hellfire Pass is in two sections. One cutting is 73 meters long and 25 meters deep, and the other is 450 meters long and 8 meters deep.
Advice seen on the trail (paraphrased). Most of the walk is along the railway itself, so wear strong shoes or boots as much of the walk along Hellfire Pass and the Hammer and Tap cutting is along the stone ballast of the railway. The bridge sites often present steep climbs, even where steps have been constructed. Running water during the wet season may be an obstacle. Wear protective clothing and footwear and take plenty of water for the return journey. If you have fair skin, then a good hat and sunburn cream is also recommended.
The decent down into the pass from the parking area is somewhere around 200 steps, so be prepared for the assent.