Turntable tales Nº 14

‘The dream of steam’

It is an almost flat stretch – only 45 meter difference in elevation between the two stations – a train is speeding to the final destination of this part of the tales. At km 645 + 125 meter once there was another station: Ban Haeo, only the signs are still there and a sandy platform. A magnificent steel bridge means town is near.
The sound of steel on steel as the wheels slowly rolling towards the station and a warm welcome is given by the staff with a green flag. Every time a train arrives it seems to be a joyful event.

Nakhon Lampang – km 642 + 293 meter [269 above see level] and 12.670 from Hang Chat – classic layout and a nice designed building with a lot of wood carved decorations. There’re six tracks and a rusty seventh one behind the signal box. Many sidetracks forms a yard with character. The outer platform is a bonsai design mixed with artifacts. A mechanically moved front seated inspection lorry and almost on real size a horse and carriage, Lampang’s trademark. Furthermore several miniatures featuring the highlights from the surrounding area like the Khun Tan tunnel include a piece of wobbling miniature rail as well.
Most of all there’s the turntable: Nº 280 Joseph Vögele Mannheim – 1928.
The whole story seems to be between Joseph and Joseph, a German coincidence I guess. This ‘table’ is electric driven, no longer blood sweat and tears for the staff while turning. It’s situated in front of a roundhouse with nine places. The taste of steam is still in the air. Once it must have been a busy scene, the engines full of live waiting in anticipation for the next job. The elegancy of seeing them turning around in a whirling stream of escaping steam. If one wasn’t romantic already, he or she will be on the spot only by thinking of it alone.
Unfortunate the glance is gone; the place forlorn, even the kettle of crane 25 did not feel fire for a long time though it survived all the ordinary steam engines. I can recall the day it was still operating something not to say of the others.
Thomas Smith & Sons (Rodley) Ltd. Leeds England. Factory number 11208 / 11211. The latter a two axle flat car for supporting the crane’s slewing arm when lowered. Two separated vehicles, together a brilliant combination, an engineering relict in time. It’s plinthed in a more or less dilapidated condition outside the former workshop where inside yet unconnected rail remember the days whereon engines were take apart and overhauled.
Sitting on the yard becomes a sentimental journey and hopeful dream alike. This is an excellent spot for a living museum and once in a while hauled with steam to Khun Tan or even as far as Chiang Mai. It’s a matter of organization and pure interest others than personal gain in terms of money. However, this is Thailand and the latter more culture than exception. The sun will set over rail many times, the points are put in a right direction, in dreams only that train goes by.

Waiting for the next job

About Robert von Hirschhorn

Author / Performer or in Dutch: schrijver / dichter
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