The International Steam Pages

Steam in Southern Thailand, 1973

Bob Wilson sends out a set of 'Friday afternoon pictures', usually it covers the Australian scene over the years, but occasionally he covers something 'foreign'. This is a day on the tour organised by the ARHS to Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, an event which may be familiar to some readers who own a copy of 'Steam Up, Indonesia and Thailand'. The previous two weeks sets consisted of black and white pictures, but at a time when the two preserved Thai Pacifics in Bangkok have just returned to service (December 2012), this piece will maybe explain why the lucky few of us who experienced steam here don't get too excited by the runs to Ayutthaya and back...

Bob writes:

This week I am concluding my series of southern Thailand railway photos with several shots of the cleanest loco I can recall seeing on any mainstream railway. As you have already seen, many Thai locos were kept in a sparkling condition but loco 840 surely won the top prize.

Our 10 carriage train from Haad Yai to the Thailand-Malaysia border station of Sungai Golok, a journey of some 5 hours, was hauled by this magnificent engine.

Loco 840 is seen at Haad Yai before departing south on a 10 car train. 23 August 1973.

Inside the cab all controls, walls and floor were spotless.

Wheels and rods gleamed and even the frame and bottom of the boiler were equally spotless.

Two more views below the boiler.

Helen and myself beside 840 at Haad Yai. We both enjoyed a ride aboard during the trip.

During the trip south, we crossed eight other trains, 6 of which were steam hauled, 5 were passenger trains, 2 were mixeds and the other was a goods train. Not only did 840 look good but it performed very well too, without a hint of any steam leaks from joints or worn glands.

840 is seen at Wat Kuan Mead where we crossed two other trains.

A more side on view at the same location.

We stopped at 28 stations enroute so most locations were fairly close to each other. Nevertheless spirited running ensued wherever possible. The driver is seen keeping a good lookout down the track as we raced along.

Another view aboard loco 840.

The camera was held out wide to capture this scene. Note the good appearance of the permanent way and the cleared reserve. I recall that ride quality aboard the loco was excellent.

840 sits in the loop at Ma Ru Bo waiting for diesel loco 3113 on a northbound passenger train.

The final photo in this series shows loco 835 arriving at Tanyong Mat as 840 waits again in the loop. My notes state that the official residence of the Queen and King of Thailand was 21 kilometres away. Two steam hauled passenger trains meet at Tanyong Mat, southern Thailand.

This was no 'flash in the pan' for 840. I cannot resist this shot taken a month later from the footbridge at Haadyai station in the early morning:

Alas I was just learning the trade and I have relatively few pictures of this quality of Thai steam. However, the late Basil Roberts had many, many more and there is a fabulous selection of them on our Images of Rail CD-ROM, 'Tiger Steam.

Rob Dickinson