When old trains are new again

When old trains are new again
Staff from the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) stand next to a newly refurbished Japanese train at Makkasan train maintenance depot. The SRT recently conducted a test run from Bangkok to Chachoengsao. (Photos: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
Staff from the State Railway of Asia (SRT) stand next to a newly restored Japanese train with Makkasan train upkeep depot. The SRT recently conducted the test run from Bangkok to Chachoengsao. (Photos: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

Seventeen second-hand passenger train carriages from Japan are usually set for a brand new lease of life having now already been refurbished ahead of getting put into service with regard to short tourism paths from next month, says the State Railway associated with Thailand (SRT).

Donated with the Hokkaido Railway Business (JR Hokkaido), the particular 17 diesel carriages arrived at Laem Chabang port in Chon Buri on Dec 13 last year. The particular SRT paid 42. 5 million baht for the shipment.

Check run

On Sept 6, SRT chief excutive Nirut Maneephan got the media on a test run of the train made up of 3 carriages which have been completely refurbished.

The air-conditioned teach rolled out of Bangkok’s Makkasan rolling stock maintenance and restoration centre and pulled into a railway place in the eastern state of Chachoengsao approximately one hour later before making the way back to Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok.

The carriages, which were originally designed for Japan’s 1 . 067-metre gauge rail tracks, are equipped with modified models of wheels designed for compatibility with Thailand’s one-metre gauge songs, while their interiors and exteriors have already been refurbished. The bodies of the carriages have also been repainted in their original white and lavender colours.

Enthusiasts and the public turned up at the stations and along the demo route to take pictures of the train.

According to the SRT, refurbishment of the left over 14 carriages is certainly expected to be finished by the end of the coming year.

The 17 carriages, from the Kiha 183 collection, were manufactured between 1981 and 1982 and decommissioned in 2017.

Before being donated to Thailand, the Kiha 183 collection served as limited express trains in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost prefecture and very coldest region. The carriages were developed specifically to withstand the severe, snowy winters generally there.

With a driver’s cab raised for better visibility during snowfall, the particular Kiha 183 collection features a “slant nose” designed to keep snowfall out of the front from the train while on the move. The Kiha 183 series has a maximum speed associated with 110 kilometres each hour.

From the 17 carriages, eight have a seating capability of 40 passengers each and another eight have a seating capacity of 68 passengers each. The ultimate one has a capability of 52 people.

The interior design of a renovated train carriage has a cosy look to welcome passengers. The State Railway associated with Thailand plans to use the 17 given carriages from Japan to promote railway travel and leisure.

Ready for service

Mister Nirut said three renovated carriages is going to be put into service intended for day trips the following month and the SRT will ask the public for ideas on their preferred tourism routes.

“I can ask the public to vote for tourism routes they want the train to run on such as from Bangkok to Pasak Jolasid Dam in Lop Buri, from Bangkok to Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan, and from Bangkok to Nam Tok (Waterfall) place in Kanchanaburi, inch Mr Nirut stated.

With regards to refurbishment, the SRT has tried its best to retain as many of the original characteristics as possible, except for the particular wheels which have to become converted to fit Thailand’s one-metre-gauge tracks, this individual said.

“While the symptoms in Japanese within the train’s interior are kept intact to preserve the original feel of the train, English translations have also been added.

“Japanese-language posters introducing tourist attractions in Thailand are also shown inside, ” Mr Nirut said.

Train seats are arranged in pairs on every side of the aisle and they can also be by hand rotated to allow travellers to sit face-to-face, he said.

“Initially, some were in doubt regarding the value of the used carriages. But since it turns out, they are within good working situation and function well, ” Mr Nirut said.

“The refurbishment was performed by technicians plus cost only about 200, 000 baht per carriage while new carriages cost 80-100 million baht every, ” he stated.

“Even though the SRT needed to pay 42. five million baht for the shipment, the outcome from the renovation is worth all the costs and attempts, ” he mentioned.

He said that all seventeen carriages had been being used for about 35 yrs and after refurbishment, they may be used for at least an additional 15 years.

Adisorn Singhakarn, a senior professional at the SRT’s maintenance and repair center, said the donation of the carriages underscored the amicable relationships between the SRT plus railway operators in Japan which return more than 20 years.

“Previously, JR West [the West Japan Railway Co] donated several diesel and air-conditioned carriages to Asia.

“They donated 26 carriages in 1997. Another batch of 28 was given in 1999, an additional 40 were given in 2004 plus a further 32 this year.

“All were refurbished into VIP carriages in order to cater to tourists, inch Mr Adisorn mentioned.

“But the latest batch associated with carriages have the majority of distinct characteristics expected from a Japanese teach, ” he said.

Countering criticism

Deputy government spokeswoman Tipanan Sirichana said the government welcomed the restoration of the carriages, that was cheaper than purchasing new ones.

The restored train will help market tourism to revitalise the economy, the girl added.

“Some people rebuked the government and dismissed the carriages because scrap metal. But we think the government’s decision proved to be the proper one. The high calibre of the technicians involved in the refurbishment also warrants praise, ” Ms Tipanan said.

The SRT’s decision to pay a few 42. 5 mil baht for the delivery of the donated carriages stirred social media debate about their worth.

Several Facebook users asked why Thailand needed to pay so much for your used carriages. A lot of netizens who opposed the idea described the carriages as “scrap metal”.