Embedded in the heart of Thailand, the King Mongkut Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL), in collaboration with Sinogen-Pin Petch Joint Venture and the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), has unveiled a state-of-the-art prototype of an amazing 25-seater luxury rail carriage. Aptly termed ‘Beyond Horizon’, this top-tier vehicle comes furnished with individual touch screens and comprehensive facilities, ensuring comfortable travel for passengers with mobility constraints.
Supervised by the project manager of Beyond Horizon and the hallowed dean of KMITL’s School of Engineering, Somyot Kaitwanidvilai, this initiative blossoms from the Transport Ministry’s creative and innovative Thai First Policy. The campaign’s ultimate goal is to infuse a larger proportion of domestic products into the mass-transit infrastructure. With a whopping 40% of the production line’s materials rooted in Thailand, the overarching aim is to prime local rail coaches for an impending nationwide network expansion.
Looking two decades into Thailand’s future, there is an anticipated demand for a minimum of 2,425 rail carriages to satisfy the developing railway infrastructure across the nation. Each carriage carries a price tag of 50 million baht, leading to an aggregate of around 100 billion baht. This means a tremendous business opportunity is on the horizon.
In the three-year phase from 2015 through 2018, railway carriages contributed to a significant 80% of SRT’s import expenditures. This fact underscores a vital opportunity, empowering Thailand to transform into a self-sufficient manufacturer while leveraging technology localization to bolster the country’s railway platform, says Mr. Kaitwanidvilai.
‘Beyond Horizon’ has been backed by robust funding support of 32 million baht, where 25 million baht stems from the Programme Management Unit for Competitiveness, with the remaining amount invested by the Sinogen-Pin Petch Joint Venture.
Akin to flying in an airline’s business class or riding a high-speed railway’s first class, the design of the passenger coach is second to none, says Mr. Kaitwanidvilai. Divided into two categories, every carriage houses 25 seats, of which eight pertain to the ultra-luxury class and the remainder to the regular luxury. Furthermore, every passenger is treated to an exclusive screen for their amusement and for ordering refreshments.
For enhanced user comfort, the train features a commercial plane-like vacuum system in its lavatory, which is paired with universally-designed train doors, ensuring seamless access for differently-abled people. Add to this, the ticket price for this luxurious ‘Beyond Horizon’ journey will mirror the price of SRT’s sleeper train tickets, ensuring affordability.
Maethus Lertsethtakarn, a top executive of the Joint Venture Sinogen-Pin Petch company, highlights that neighboring nations such as Myanmar, Vietnam, and Malaysia are manufacturing similar carriages for local use. Nevertheless, Thailand’s dependence on foreign production materials continues to drain the country of over 6 billion baht. This launch hopes to curb imports and open up avenues towards knowledge transfer and entrepreneurship.
Honoring the project, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha acclaimed that this move will lead to reduced expenses by nearly half when juxtaposed against the import expenses of carriages. The time for change is now, and Thailand is ready to embrace it.