Long Term Plans for AAAEIC - a new Heritage Rail Tourism Sector for Thailand

1th December 2018 Rayong, Thailand. This page will report our future plans for AAAEIC Foundation. To learn the origins of the Foundation and the thinking behind it click here.. To get an overview click here.

Heritage Rail Industry

Currently Thailand has no Heritage Rail Industry at all. There are numerous static displays of heritage equipment. In one recently compiled list of steam locomotives, some 50 are in the country, including 17 made in Japan, 16 in UK, 8 in Germany, 4 in US 2 in Switzerland and 1 in France. All are located at stations around the current network and all are 1 meter gauge and appear to be wood fired. When steam was replaced by diesel traction in the 1970s, it seems there was little value in cutting up the steam stock for scrap, so the engines were just parked up and are remarkably complete, as the photos show.


Kanchanaburi in the west of Thailand is the start of the famous "Death Railway" built with forced labour by the Japanese during the 1939-45 war in an attempt to drive a line into Burma, now Myanmar. Only a short section from Kanchanaburi to Nam Tok remains today that carries regular services accros the "Bridge over the River Kwai", and the spectacular curving wooden bridge, mostly for tourists. The trip takes 2 hours and 23 minutes and is diesel hauled.

There are 4 locomotives at Kanchanaburi, a North British 1919 built 4-6-0 and a wartime Japanese 4-6-2 at the north side of thew Bridge, a spectacular 2-8-2+2-8-2 German built loco in the forecourt of Kanchanaburi station and a Japanese 4-6-0 blocking the end of the rails at Nam Tok. All could be easily brought back into steam.

The north British 4-6-0 would be our first choice for renovation for the following reasons:

  • It will be 100 years old next year in 2019 - great for PR.
  • The locomotive was likely to have been stollen from Malaya by the Japanese for use in building the Railway which adds historical authenticity and appeal.
  • It has classic South East Asian lines.
  • Mechanically it is in great form, only really missing cab fittings.
  • The National Railway Museum in York, England holds an extensive archive from the North British so drawings and other information will be readily available to help with authentic restoration.
  • The "Bridge over the River Quai ia already a very successul tourist destination, especially with western foreigners. Having a heritage train running on the line would be an immediate success, drawing in extra sponsership.
  • Bangkok is not far, so excursions from the capital would be posible. The "River Kwai Flyer" comes to mind!

One advantage we have is that these locos were generally wood burning rather than coal. Wood burns at a much lower temperature than coal so there is likely to be much less thermal errosion of the boiler, and as 90% of the cost of refurbishment is in the boiler, renovation costs should be low. Also steam coal is unheard of in Thailand, wheras good wood is plentiful everywhere. Environmental fire risk is low as coal embers thrown from the chiminy are persitant when they reach the ground.

The Japanese locomotives will have to take their turn and await sponsorship from the Japanese industrial base. The two in Kanchanaburi would be usful support locos for the North British.

The wonderful Bayer Garratt would be a much heavier exercise and the obvious place to run it would be the Chiang Mai, Lampun, Chiang Rai sections which need power for the gradients encountered.

Kanchanaburi Bayer-Garratt design articulated
locomotive thought to have worked in the Pak Chong
mountain section near Nakorn Ratasima
or on the Chiang Mai route.

Restoration work would be roughly double that of a normal loco as it has 2 sets of running gear. We would also encounter novel engineering problems, for instance high pressure flexible joints in the pipe work.

We believe that to acquire the locos for renovation we would need the support of the provincial Governor, probably the railway authority and Interior ministry who would be corralled by the Governor.

The locos would need to be road transported to our works in Rayong which would involve heavy lift and transport, all readily available locally. Road permits would be needed.

To complete an authentic heritage experience we would need authentic rolling stock. This should be easy to acquire from disused carriages of Royal Thai Railways who are currently modernizing their fleet with newly purchased Chinese stock. We would simply need to strip out existing the interior and refit with Pullman standard seating. We propose a number of innovations with this. Firstly, we would adapt all locomotive tender (the wagon behind the loco that carries water and fuel) To have walk-through connection to the train behind. This was first introduced in LNER A4 Pacifics that needed to run non-stop services from London to Edinburgh necessitating an in-train crew change. We would not do it for that reason, more to permit passenger visits to the footplate. The adaption is physically simple and the subsequent reduction in water and fuel capacity could be made up with sensible logistics or using an additional support wagon. The other innovation would be to follow the example of New Zealand Railways, Kiwi Rail, that have on every train an open air car.

Other non-standard features would include TVs with live GPS Maps, on board wifi, audio comentary covering history, geography, and flora/fauner of the surroundings.

There would be no need for Air Conditioning but there would need for one diner and bar facilities on each train. Coaches could be personalized for sponsors which would be a nice source of revenue - "CP Foods Diner Coach" or "7/11 Cafe Car" Two of our directors are Danish/Thai restaurateurs, so there is plenty of expertise to make that a success. We are also exploring other novel ideas, such as exclusive Extra VIP lounge coaches that can be rented for a season, complete with American 1930's lounge furniture bathtubs, and double-beds, for the glitterati and their entourage.


This is an identical loco to the Kanchanaburi and Lopburi examples.


Click to see all photos of Lopburi loco.

There is a branch line to Pasak Chonlasit Dam wich is occasionally used for tourist excursions.

This is an identical loco to the Kanchanaburi NBL 4-6-0 and has works number 21816

Chiang Mai

This Chiang Mai locomotive is included here as an illustration of the extent of the static displays arround Thailand. It is believed this is ia SLM Winterthur Swiss locomotive works number 2208. It looks from the photos to be in a similar condition to the Kanchanaburi examples.


North British Locomotive Company no 21810 at Chumphon in the south of Thailand. This is a sister of the Kanchanaburi Lopburi locomotives but strangly has two domes on its boiler, wheras the former have only one. This is unusual. the dome is a device that collects dry steam and usually houses the regulator valve. Why this loco has two will only be revealed whn we remove them!

North British Locos in Thailand

The following has been compiled fromThe International Steam Pages, Preserved / Extant Steam Locos and Steam Cranes in Thailand.

In the table below click on the location to get a Google Map route from Bangkok, except Bangkok which gives the route from Rayong.

Location Configuration Year of mfg Plant Works No
Aranya Prathet 4-6-0 1912 Hyde Park 19962
Bangkok (Makkasan workshop) 4-6-0 1912 Hyde Park 19971
Kanchanaburi (War museum) 4-6-0 1918 Hyde Park 21140
Sungai Kolok 4-6-0 1919 Hyde Park 21758
Ban Phachi 4-6-0 1919 Hyde Park 21759
Nakhon Sawon (Ban Non Pling) 4-6-0 1919 Hyde Park 21760
Den Chai 4-6-0 1931 Hyde Park 21762
Chumpon 4-6-0 1919 Hyde Park 21810
Udon Thani 4-6-0 1917 Hyde Park 21811
Lopburi 4-6-0 1919 Hyde Park 21816
Chachoengsao 4-6-0 1919 Hyde Park 22258
Pattani 4-6-0 1919 Hyde Park 22260
Phitsanulok 4-6-0 1918 Hyde Park 22263 (22260)
Ubon Ratchathani 4-6-0 1912 Hyde Park 22266
Khon Kaen 4-6-0 unknown unknown unknown