Beyond Horizon: Thailand’s domestic-made luxury rail carriage

Picture courtesy of Bangkok Post

A cutting-edge rail carriage prototype, known as Beyond Horizon, has been launched in an innovative collaboration between the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), Sinogen-Pin Petch Joint Venture and King Mongkut Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL). With 25 luxury seats all equipped with touch screens for individual passengers, the demonstration unit on display is also fully accessible for wheelchair users.

Somyot Kaitwanidvilai, the dean of KMITL’s School of Engineering and the individual directing the Beyond Horizon project, explained that the initiative is part of the Transport Ministry’s Thai First Policy. This policy seeks to leverage greater inclusion of domestic hardware in the mass-transit system, with an ambitious target of utilising 40% Thai-made material in the production line. The ultimate objective is to ready domestic, high-quality rail coach production for the surge in rail network expansion that Thailand will experience in the coming years.

By 2040, the country is expected to require at least 2,425 rail carriages to accommodate the expansion of its rail network. The cost for each carriage is expected to be around 50 million baht, potentially rising to a total outlay of 100 billion baht.

Somyot noted that between 2015 and 2018, the procurement of rail carriages was responsible for 80% of SRT’s import expenditure, presenting a significant opportunity for Thailand to become more self-reliant in rail carriage production and advance its railway system via localised technology.

“While there have been 32 million baht of funding provided to the Beyond Horizon project, 25 million baht originated from the Programme Management Unit for Competitiveness, with the remainder contributed by the Sinogen-Pin Petch Joint Venture.”

Emulating the high-end surroundings of airline business class and premier class on high-speed railways, Beyond Horizon is built for luxury and comfort, reported Bangkok Post. Somyot described the impressive specs for the Beyond Horizon rail cars.

“The super luxury section has eight seats and it is complemented by a further seventeen seats for other passengers. An on-board entertainment system is fitted to each seat, alongside the ability for passengers to order food straight from their seat.”

The train also incorporates a commercial plane-like vacuum lavatory system, and doors created using a universal design to aid those with disabilities. Ticket prices are anticipated to be on par with those of the SRT’s sleeper trains.

Maethus Lertsethtakarn, an executive of the Sinogen-Pin Petch Joint Venture, contrasted Thailand’s reliance on foreign manufacturing with the ability of neighbouring countries such as Myanmar, Vietnam and Malaysia to produce their carriages for domestic use.

He stated that foreign procurement expenses exceed 6 billion baht. However, with the development of Beyond Horizon, he sees a profound shift in the landscape.

“The research team’s comprehensive development of the train’s components provides us with valuable insights into upgrades and maintenance. This will contribute to cost reductions as we move away from importing, and our technical expertise become accessible for entrepreneurs.”

With optimism, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha acknowledged the project, suggesting that the domestic production of carriages could potentially halve costs in comparison to importing.

Thailand NewsTransport News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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