NewsNational NewsNew Diesel Trains from Japan to Bolster Thailand’s Rail Network

New Diesel Trains from Japan to Bolster Thailand’s Rail Network

It was reported that a total of 20 diesel trains from JR East (East Japan Railway Company) have arrived in Thailand. The shipment, consisting of 11 Kiha 40 and 9 Kiha 48 trains, was transported from Niigata Port, Japan, to Laem Chabang Port, Chonburi Province. The transportation was managed by Green Generation Worldwide Co., Ltd., at a cost of 48.6 million baht.

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) will now modify the bogies to adjust the wheelbase from 1.067 meters to 1.00 meter at the Makkasan workshop, a process expected to take approximately 25 days. Afterward, the bogies will return to Laem Chabang Port for reassembly with the train bodies. The complete units will then be transported back to the Makkasan workshop for further refurbishment. The 20 diesel railcars will then be divided into six trains, each train having three carriages, leaving two as spare cars. It is anticipated that the first modified train will be ready for service by late 2024.

These diesel railcars, Kiha 40 and Kiha 48, were decommissioned by JR East early last year as the company transitioned to battery-electric multiple units (BEMU EV801). The Kiha 40 features double cabs, enabling independent operation from either end, with a top speed of approximately 95 kilometers per hour. Both models are air-conditioned, with cooling capacities of 30,000 Kcal or 119,100 BTU, suitable for the Thai climate.

The Kiha 40 trains have 68 seats, while the Kiha 48 trains have 82 seats, not including standing passengers. The seating arrangement includes both cross seats and long seats. The trains are equipped with squat toilets, which will need to be modified to meet modern standards.

These trains are expected to serve as third-class commuter trains, connecting suburban areas such as Ayutthaya, Chachoengsao, and Nakhon Pathom to Bangkok. They may also function as feeder trains during peak hours, with the flexibility to adjust the number of carriages.

Once the refurbishment is complete, these 20 Kiha 40 and Kiha 48 trains will enhance the existing fleet, providing interim capacity while awaiting new train acquisitions. These trains, which have been in service for about 40 years, can continue to operate for an additional 10-15 years with proper maintenance.

The long-standing relationship between SRT and JR East includes various training and study exchanges. This donation marks the first time JR East has given used diesel railcars to SRT. Since 1993, JR East has donated used trains to several countries in Asia and Europe, including Russia, Myanmar, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Indonesia alone has received over 812 units from JR East over the years.

The regular replacement of trains in Japan, driven by the need to support the domestic rail industry with new technologies, results in surplus trains being donated for further use abroad. This practice helps sustain the rail manufacturing sector while meeting evolving service demands.

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