Thailand from the train

‘A lost steamer’

How far a steam engine can run on worn-out sleepers? Not far, because the picture above was taking in Nakhon Pathom in March 1994, seventy one kilometer from the Bangkok Hua Lamphong station. The preserved former Japanese railways and run able C56 engines Nº 713 – 715 were on their way to Kanchanaburi.
All came into action for a most peculiar way to supply an engine with fresh fuel and water. A more profound rail related thing one cannot wish.

Both machines are still there and kept in good order by de dedicated staff of the Thonburi shed and workshop. Once in a while they enjoy their extended lives and tasting rail. Forty-six of these machines where shipped to Thailand and did their duty after being adjusted from Cape (1067 mm) to meter gauge. After they were abandoned some find their last way on a plinth and others met de man with the merciless hammer, there’s not such a thing as a save heaven for old steam engines. Rust won’t rest on the scrape yard if the price for used metals becomes attractive.
The story goes back to the nineties of the last century and it seems to be if grandfather likes talking. However, non what so ever. The star of the show is steam engine 744, a so called Mogul, a 2-0-6 build by Kawasaki in Japan under the number 1703 in 1936 and ex JNR C56.53. It happened on the road to Mae Jo – road 1001 – where a dazzling manager of the still to build Lana Resort bought (or leased?) the engine together with two old classic coaches with open balcony (Cravens – 1922) and thus formed an office but foremost an eye-catcher.
Needy placed on a piece of rail and later adjusted with a typical platform shaped roof. All in all a most peculiar railway venture about ten kilometres away from the real railhead of the Northern line, the Chiang Mai station. By that time I was not living here and only did my yearly visits for holiday. It was March and April 1992, two months wherein this railway object was erected and found the definite shape. In the end it all looked like a little station with a train on the brink of departing. I took slides of it but after that year never went there again and on a certain moment the whole thing was gone, disappeared without any trace. That moment I can’t recall neither where the bunch ended up. In whose barn the beauty is rusting and where are the hey-day coaches? For sure these are a fine object for any futuristic heritage line. I’ll shall praise the day someone within the system sees the light and act without any pecuniary interest in a project like this. The honour maybe and so he or she deserves it. Maybe a she acts better; some maternal affection will do the railways certainly no harm. On the other hand mechanical things are not the most obvious thing for a woman to like. A list of kept or plinthed C56 engines as far as they cover my records.

SRT 702 Mitsubishi Nº 156 – 1935 C56.4
Tha Sao – Nam Tok [waterfall]
SRT 713 Hitachi Nº 626 – 1935 C56.15
Bangkok – Thonburi shed
SRT 714 Hitachi Nº 629 – 1935 C56.16
Bangkok – Hua Lamphong station, end of platfom Nº 1
SRT 715 Nippon Sharyo Nº 374 – 1935 C56.17
Bangkok – Thonburi shed
SRT 719 Kisha Seizo Kaisha Nº 1352 – 1935 C56.23
Kanchanaburi – near bridge at small museum spot
SRT 728 Kisha Seizo Kaisha Nº 414 – 1936 C56.36
Nakhon Lampang – in front of the station
SRT 733 Mitsubishi Nº 176 – 1936 C56.41
Bangkok – at the Makkasan workshop
SRT 738 Mitsubishi Nº 182 – 1936 C56.47
Bangkok – Ekkamai museum

The 744, a lost steamer, maybe one day ‘he’ pops up somewhere and behaves as never been away. This is amazing Thailand and the railways are no exception.
A misdemeanour once a while because the defined want to know of a certain foreigner find deaf ears in a different culture where some values are undefined. Never mind, the same phrase in the Thai language that keeps things at bay.

The first stage

The second stage

Ready for depart


About Robert von Hirschhorn

Author / Performer or in Dutch: schrijver / dichter
This entry was posted in Thailand. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Thailand from the train

  1. GWR says:

    Congratulations on getting your own site Robert!

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