In a significant development for Thailand’s railway system, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) has contracted Green Generation World Wide Co., Ltd. to transport 20 Kiha 40 and Kiha 48 diesel trains from Japan, with an estimated cost of 48.6 million Thai Baht. The move is part of the SRT’s ongoing efforts to enhance and diversify its rail fleet, providing efficient and comfortable transportation options for the public.
The deal, expected to be formalized soon, will see the diesel trains making their way from Japan to Thailand by the end of March 2024. Japan’s JR East, known for its rail services in the Kanto and Tohoku regions, will oversee the transportation without charging the SRT but requires the Thai authorities to handle the logistics.
The Kiha trains, currently boasting good condition and recently released by JR East in early 2022, are set to undergo modifications upon arrival in Thailand. These adjustments include resizing the wheelbase from 1.067 meters to 1.00 meter, internal refurbishments, and a fresh coat of paint with the initial color scheme transitioning from white-green to a distinctive red-blue tone. The first set is anticipated to be ready for public service by the end of 2024.
Unlike the Kiha 183, which required extensive upgrades, the Kiha 40 and 48 models are considered ready for service with their fixed backrests and immediate usability. The SRT intends to utilize these trains as third-class air-conditioned coaches, primarily serving short-distance routes, such as those in Ayutthaya, Chachoengsao, and Nakhon Pathom provinces. This initiative not only supplements the existing passenger train services but also transforms the conventional railway travel experience by introducing short-loop routes, enhancing commuter convenience.
Thailand’s engagement with Japanese rail assets isn’t new, with previous exchanges such as JR Hokkaido providing ten Hamanasu air-conditioned diesel trains to Thailand in October 2018. Furthermore, JR Hokkaido contributed 17 KIHA 183 diesel trains to Thailand in late 2019, earmarked for tourism-related services. These initiatives showcase the collaborative efforts to enhance Thailand’s railway infrastructure and cater to diverse travel needs.
As the SRT continues to modernize and expand its rail network, the introduction of the Kiha 40 and 48 models signals a strategic move towards improving passenger experience and convenience. The diversified use of these trains, from short-distance commuting to weekend tourism, reflects the SRT’s commitment to meeting the evolving needs of the traveling public in Thailand.