Promotion - AAAEIC Foundation

1st December 2018 Rayong, Thailand.

Why are Heritage Railways such a Thai Game-Changer?

What are Heritage Railways?

Wikipedia defines the term as "museum railways or tourist railways that have retained or assumed the character and appearance and operating practices of railways of former times. Several lines that operate in isolation provide genuine transport facilities, providing community links. Most lines constitute tourist or educational attractions in their own right. Much of the rolling stock and other equipment used on these systems is original and is of historic value in its own right. Many systems aim to replicate both the look and operating practices of historic former railways companies."Heritage Railways mostly succeed in places steeped in a history of industrial revolution and the role railways played in that history; England, Germany, France, the United States all have such a history and a flourishing heritage railway sector. Thailand doesn't obviously mirror that background. but it does have a railway history.

A report of July 2013 prepared by the UK government All Party Parliamentary Group on Heritage Rail concluded "Economic Benefits. Heritage railways make a major contribution to the economies of the areas they serve both in terms of attracting tourism and of substantial spending on local services. Research undertaken for a number of railways suggests a mean benefit to the local economy of around 2.7 times the railway‟s turnover. In aggregate, this would suggest that the economic benefit nationally is just under £250m (USD 318m)."

The UK Tourism receipts are USD 45.6 billion in 2016 with Thailand at 44.6 billion. One can reasonably predict therefore that a mature heritage railways sector in Thailand could yield an economic benefit of USD 305 or THB 10 billion, without consideration of the educational benefits it would bring.

What makes a successful 10 billion Bhat Heritage Railway?

Various academic work suggests that the following are the key ingredients of heritage rail success:

Historical authenticity

That is our job. There are 50+ steam locos avaialbe in Thailand. The current rail network is unmodernised so the infrastructure is already heritage standard. Click here for a list

Scenic surroundings

Thailand is a scenic jungle country, so fit's that bill.

Good tourist infrastructure

Already in place throughout the country.

There is little or no regional competition, and Thailand has a mature international and local tourism market. The rail network is crying out for increased utilisation and there would be very little potential conflict with normal railway public traffic and services. We do not expect any significant political or institutional resistance to our activities. Provision of water may be restricted in some locations but water bowsers are available everywahere, as is wood fuel.

Attractive Heritage Tour Routes

The entire Thai rail network has huge potential for heritage rail trips, with wonderful tropical scenery ranging from palm lined coasts to vast expances of rice paddies with dramatic outcrops of extinct volcanos, to rugged tree covered mountains. Combined with appropriately fitted out rolling stock, it's a tour guides dream come true! Here are a sample of what will be possible (Click on the route to see a map of it):

Bangkok (Suvarnapumi Airport) - Pattaya - Satahip

Hub Airport to tourist capital of Thailand.

Pattaya - Aranya Prathet (Cambodian Border)(5 hrs).

With onward conection by mini-bus to Angkor Wat.

Bangkok - Pasak Chonlasit Dam, Lop Buri (10 hrs return).

Wonderful weekend outing.

Bangkok - Kanchanaburi - Nam Tok (7 hrs).

"Bridge over the River Kwai". historical outing.

Bangkok - Nong Kai (10 hrs).

Through the "Rice bowl of Asia" to the Mekong River.

Bangkok - Chiang Mai (12 hrs).

Straight north into the "Golden Triangle" and to the historic city of Chiang Mai.

Pattaya - Bangkok - Hua Hin (6 hrs).

Exotic Beach to Royal Beach round the coast.

Bangkok - Hua Hin - Chumphon - Kiri Ratthanikhom (8 hrs).

On to Koh Samui and Puket and Phuket islands and the Indian Ocean.

Bangkok - Khorat - Buriram - Surin - Sisaket - Ubon Rathatani (10 hrs).

The Loa Experience.

Chiang Mai - Bangkok - Hua Hin - Pattani - Butterworth - Kuala Lumpa - Singapore (60 hrs).

The Ruffles Orient Express - The Greatest Railway Journey in the world.

Foundation Growth - A 5 Year Plan

We intend to start with 2 model campuses, one in Pattaya and one in Rayong. With those up and running we intend to expand our operations into heritage mainline steam restoration and operations, starting with the acquisition of one or two steam locos currently on static display.

We have identified two potential sites for a workshop with space for locomotive and carriage renovation.. Both have tracks and are currently disused.

On average we will have to complete 10 carriages for each loco we put into service. Once the workshop has experience we would expect a production rate of 1 loco and 10 carriages per month. With an available stock of about 60 mainline steam locos in Thailand, we can estimate about 5 years of work.

The most attractive starting point would be the North British 4-6-0 currently on the north portal of the "Bridge over the River Kwai" at Kanchanaburi with the intension of running a regular service on the branch line from Kanchanaburi to Nam Tok. This is already a popular international tourist attraction. This limited regular service could be extended to run from Rayong, through Bangkok to Kanchanaburi and Nam Tok at weekends - an 8 hour journey time. The following is a projection of staffing levels.

Year 2019 2020 2021
Department / Fleet 1 loco 10 locos 40 locos
Workshops 10 25 25
Train Crews 4 60 250
Control Center 0 10 15
Mobile Support, Safety and Logistics 0 5 10
Marketing, web and Admin 3 10 10
Total staff 17 110 310
Turnover THB 7 m THB 85 m THB 300 m

Open Letter to Governors with Static Display Steam Engine Examples

Dear Sir or Madam,

AAAEIC is a charitable foundation based in Thailand, currently in the process of formation, and headed by Mr Christopher Ross, with the specific aim of inspiring young people to enthuse about a career in engineering.

The motivation for this project comes from the encouragement Mr Ross received in his formative years from railway engineers in his hometown who not only tolerated his fascination with the big steam engines but also took the time to explain their workings to him and inspired him to join in with the maintenance and servicing of these huge machines. Combine their encouragement with Mr Ross' grandfather having spent a career building East Africa's railways and the result was his lifelong love of engineering which has provided him with the funds to launch this foundation to pass his passion on to others.

Mr Ross is in the process of purchasing a number of 1/21 scale model steam trains which will run on 5 inch gauge tracks he will lay on his recently aquired piece of jungle land in Rayong. His intention is to offer an opportunity to children and young people, predominantly from disadvantaged backgrounds, to assist cannot help but teach the participants about how it all works. Clearly, some may be inspired to follow in Mr Ross' footsteps and fall in love with the whole concept of engineering in general. The best and most enthusiastic of these young people will be offered other opportunities to succeed including, in time, scholarships to further their education.

In tandem with this plan, Mr Ross and his fellow trustees in the foundation have an idea which, at first glance, may be considered extremely ambitious, but with the offers of help already received from numerous sources, the sponsorship of a number of Thai based major international corporations which is in the pipeline and Mr Ross' personal wealth, it is certainly achievable. Some time ago, Mr Ross took his children on a special train ride between Bangkok and Lopburi which stopped on the Pasak Chonlasit Dam. This was an example of rail tourism, one step behind the Heritage Rail Tourism we propose. The whole excursion was enjoyed by all and clearly brought a large number of people to Lopburi who otherwise would not have visited which, doubtless, was of benefit to local traders. Equally likely is that a number of these visitors have since returned, having discovered the town thanks to the one-off train journey, bringing additional prosperity to local merchants.

The train used was a simple, everyday diesel and left Bangkok at 0600, yet every seat was still full. Consider then the appeal of a journey from your location to a locally accessible attraction. Passengers would sit in carriages which have been fully refurbished with style and luxury in mind yet are also truly reflective of the times that are conjured up by the locomotive pulling them which is a fully restored, 100 year old, wood burning steam train! Market research shows that a huge number of Thai's, to say nothing of tourists from every corner of the globe, would relish the opportunity to take part in such a unique experience.

Naturally, the shopkeepers and other merchants of your province would need to be advised of this plan so that they could prepare for the massive increase in customers and trade this attraction would bring with in. The infrastructure of your town would also have to be considered to address the issues of increased demand for parking around the station, food and drinks, toilet facilites etc.. But these matters apart, there is little doubt that this proposed venture would bring considerable benefit to your surrounding areas and as Governor of the area, it is hoped that you will be willing to lend your assistance to making this happen.

Essential to the plan, and where it is felt that your influence would be extremely helpful, is in three distinct areas.

Firstly, to help the foundation aquire permission to take your static display locomotive to the foundation's engineering works for complete overhaul and refurbishment, returning it to its former glory in all respects, yet also meeting todays exacting safety standards, before bringing it back to your location for its maiden voyage carrying VIP's such as yourself and your guests, representatives from the major businesses who have provided the financial means to make this happen and the young people who will have been involved at all stages of the project, learned so much from it and been inspired by it to make engineering their chosen career.

Secondly, permission would be needed from the relevant authorities to run the train on the tracks local to your area and your support would prove invaluable in achieving this.

Finally, your influence would be the catalyst in ensuring local businesses and traders pull together to ensure that the town's infrastructure could cope with the huge influx of visitors and tourist trade this venture would bring with it.

We would be most grateful for your thoughts and comments on this proposal.

Best wishes,

Brian Larsen


AAAIEC Foundation