Japan-Donated Train Carriages Ready To Operate Next Month

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) said that seventeen second-hand passenger train carriages from Japan had been refurbished and were fully operational to resume short tourist routes from October.

Last year, 17 diesel cars were donated by the Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido). The SRT paid 42.5 million baht for the shipment, delivered at the Laem Chabang port in Chon Buri on December 13.

Earlier this month, SRT Governor Nirut Maneephan allowed the media to witness a test run of a refurbished three-carriage train.

The air-conditioned train left Bangkok’s Makkasan rolling stock maintenance and repair center, heading for a train station in the eastern province of Chachoengsao. An hour later, it returned to Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok.

JR Hokkaido’s railcars were originally designed for Japan’s 1,067-meter gauge railways. Each has been equipped with modified wheelsets to fit Thailand’s one-meter gauge tracks.

The carriages’ interior and exterior have been refreshed, and their bodies have been repainted in white and lavender.

Journalists and public members gathered at stations and along the test route to take photos of the new train. The remaining 14 carriages are expected to be refurbished by the end of next year.

The 17 cars are part of the 110-kilometer-per-hour Kiha 183 series, which served as limited express trains in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost and coldest region. Therefore, they were all developed to withstand low temperatures during harsh snowy winters.

Kiha 183’s series carriages feature a raised driver’s cab to offer better visibility during snow storms and a “slanted nose” to keep snow off the train while it is in motion.

Of the donated cars, eight have a capacity for 40 passengers each, eight for 68 passengers, and one for 52 passengers.

According to Mr. Nirut, the three refurbished carriages will be put into service for day trips in October. The SRT will ask the public to vote for the tourist routes they want the train to run on.

The three proposed routes are from Bangkok to the Pasak Jolasid dam in Lop Buri, from Bangkok to the Nam Tok (Waterfall) station in Kanchanaburi, and from Bangkok to Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan.

The carriages were manufactured between 1981 and 1982 but were decommissioned in 2017. Although they were in service for 35 years, they can be used for at least another 15 years after the renovation, Mr. Nirut added.