Retired diesel trains to be revived in Thailand after JR Hokkaido transfers them free of charge

A JR Hokkaido Kiha 183-series diesel train transferred from JR Hokkaido to The State Railway of Thailand

The State Railway of Thailand announced on September 10 that it will receive 17 used diesel trains from JR Hokkaido. After refurbishment, the plan is to utilize the trains – which were used on the ‘Okhotsk’ (Sapporo-Abashiri) and ‘Taisetsu’ (Asahikawa-Abashiri) Limited Express routes – on the railways in Thailand, as of next year.

The 17 trains – all of which are of the Kiha 183 series manufactured from 1981 to 1982 – were retired in 2017 and are currently stored in Muroran. The trains themselves will be transferred free of charge, but The State Railway of Thailand will bear the 42.25 million Baht (approx. 142 million yen) transportation costs, with the trains expected to arrive in Thailand in October.

Second-hand Japanese locomotives and carriages are popular in Southeast Asia and are imported in large numbers but in some cases remain unused. Ten ‘Hamanasu’ overnight sleeper trains purchased from JR Hokkaido by the State Railway of Thailand in 2016 are still inactive.

While many people in Thailand are thankful to JR for the donation, others question “whether or not the high cost of transportation is worth it for the state railway in Thailand, which continues to operate in the red”. According to The State Railway of Thailand, “The condition of the transferred trains is very good. After COVID-19 has been brought under control, the locomotives and carriages – including the ‘Hamanasu’ series – will be utilized as tourist trains”.