The International Steam Pages

A Steamy Weekend in Thailand, December 2009

James Waite took advantage of a bargain airfare to further his Thai experience, but not in the conventional tourist manner!

My plane from Heathrow arrived at Bangkok airport around 6.00am on the 5th, I was on the road in the hire car by 6.30 and had got into position for the first of the pics, on the bridge just north of the station, by 7.20, in good time for the 8.00 departure! The two locos in action were Pacifics no's. 824 (Nippon Sharyo 1524/1949) and 850 (Nippon Sharyo 1547/1950), the latter back in action after an overhaul lasting some three years. 

Had a bit of a navigational failure then which delayed me from getting onto the motorway out of town and so didn't catch up with the train again for another 20 miles or so. The second and third pics are of the train approaching Bang Pa-in, where it stopped to let an ordinary train overtake it, and again just as it was pulling away from Bang Pa-in which is not far short of Ayutthaya, the end of the run. I parked the car a little way away from the bridge here and as I was walking back I met a young lad leading an equally young elephant along the road. Both very obligingly posed for a pic!

The train waits there for seven hours and only sets off again as it's getting dark. I didn't wait there but went back to Bangkok by a very roundabout route via Ban Phachi Junction to see 4-6-0 no. 177 preserved there (NBL 21759/1919) and then Kabin Buri, not far from the Cambodian border, where this Brush-built tank loco no. 63 (works no. 324/1911) is preserved on the old turntable there. Kabin Buri is on route 33. It was quite hard finding the station which is out in the countryside several km from the town even though the railway passes through the town. If you're driving there from the west turn right just before the level crossing 3km before the town, drive through quite a small village and the station's on the left hand side. The turntable and loco aren't immediately apparent from the station. They're several hundred metres to the east, on the southern side of the line and the land around them is now a small park.

Got up early the following morning for a flight to Chiang Mai. The next two pics are of the preserved Swiss loco at Chiang Mai station not long after dawn. It's no. 340 (SLM 2208/1912), one of eighteen of these locos which the Thais purchased from the Rhatische Bahn in 1926 and 1927 after the RhB was electrified. They used them on the Uttaradit - Chiang Mai line through the hills in the north of the country.

Drove down to Lampang, about 80km south, to see this Japanese 2-6-0 outside the station and the British-built steam crane (seemingly still in service) outside the engine shed. 

Tried to get permission to visit the sugar factory at Ko Kha, a short distance outside the town, which has some preserved steam locos and some more dumped ones. The security people let me in but wouldn't let me bring my camera (but see below!) They have a Baguley 0-4-2T+T (a rare builder at the best of times and I can only think of one of their locos which is preserved apart from the ones in Thailand) and a Vulcan Iron Works 2-4-2T+T preserved on their lawn (and painted in a somewhat garish blue and yellow paint scheme) and two more VIW's dumped in a yard at the side of the factory painted medium green, presumably their "real" paint scheme. All the locos there are 750mm gauge.

Pressed on to Uttaradit, about another 130km further south, to visit another sugar factory called Wang Khapi. Here they were very welcoming. The next two pics show an old metre-gauge Krauss 2-4-0T (works no. 5987/1908) which originated at the Paknam suburban line in Bangkok, the country's first railway. It was used by the factory to work their branch from the state railway. It was reboilered at some stage of its career with the boiler from a OK 750mm gauge 0-6-0T used on their internal system. The next pic shows another Baguley 0-4-2T (works no. 2009/1921), also 750mm gauge, preserved there. 

Very friendly people at the factory and I think they would have taken me round the whole place if I'd wanted them to. However time was getting on - it was early afternoon by then. Drove back via Sila At station just north of Uttaradit to see no. 274, this Hanomag Pacific loco (10614/1928), newly repainted and looking very smart.

Stopped again at Ko Kha on the way back to Chiang Mai, this time trying a side entrance through which I'd spotted a lorry carrying sugar cane going in. Here they were very happy to let me see (and photograph) the dead engines, these two green ones no's. 6 and 8 (Vulcan Iron Works 4655/1947 and 4654/1947) plus two Diema diesels but still wouldn't let me go to see the two preserved locos just beyond the gate, only about 10 yards away. However I took some pictures of them over the fence! The Baguley on the left of the picture of the two blue and yellow engines is 2010/1921 and the loco on the right is no. 7, (VIW 4657/1947). Got back to the Chiang Mai area around dusk and was back in my hotel in Bangkok by 22.30.

I visited Makkasan works on Monday 7th where part of the boundary wall has been taken down in connection with the building of the new standard gauge line to the airport and so there's a better view of the locos stored there. They are 0-6-0T no. 54 (Henschel 9359/1897), 0-6-0T no. 61, another of the Brush locos like the one at Kabin Buri, 4-6-0 no. 165 (NBL 19971/1912) and 2-8-0 no. 336 (SLM 2332/1913), another of the ex-RhB locos.

Then headed off to the airport via the rice mill at Rangsit where the two "entombed" 2-8-2's are in good order. I wanted to retake some of my photos with a wider lens than last time. I was met by the same young lady who showed me around two years ago. They were all very welcoming and I do wonder whether there's any real need to "ration" the number of people who visit there. The plane home took off at lunch time, Margaret met me at Heathrow and we were back home by 7.30 in time for fish and chips!

Rob Dickinson