The lauded State Railway of Thailand (SRT) is gearing up to receive a newly constructed train come September, thanks to a joint effort led by the Programme Management Unit for Competitiveness (PUMC) and the Office of National Higher Education Science Research and Innovation Policy Council. Associate Professor Weerasak Udomkitdecha, the head of the programme’s future transportation, robotics, and automation subcommittee, confirmed these details.
The groundbreaking project saw the joining of forces between the King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology LadKrabang, Sinogen-Pinpetch Joint Venture, and the SRT, all financially backed by PMUC. A central focus lay in integrating Thailand’s foundational technologies to align with the “Thai First” policy championed by the Ministry of Transport and the broader government initiative to boost locally created products, particularly in railway ventures.
Looking ahead, it is anticipated that future train procurements will necessitate no less than 40% of local composition. Over the ensuing two decades, the passenger train car demand is projected to hit a minimum of 2,425 units. With the state’s amplified investment in railway infrastructure, the average price tag of a train car rounds off to about 50 million baht, positioning the manufacturing market of passenger train cars to be worth a minimum of 100 billion baht per year, as foreseen by Weerasak.
Within the railway system’s value chain, rolling stock is deemed a core technology. The import of rolling stock and disparate components created up to 80% of the aggregate expenditure on imported railway commodities from 2015 through 2018. As a result, a momentous window of opportunity exists to hasten the manufacturing development within the supply chain to elevate Thailand’s rail transport sector, Weerasak highlighted.
The prototype train, a revolutionary design inspired by the business class seats found in jets and high-speed trains, was the proud creation of the project team. Housing 25 seats, of which eight are super-luxury and 17 are luxury, each comes with an individual entertainment display and onboard robotic food service. Additional amenities have been included to cater to passengers with disabilities.
A comparison with imports shows the prototype brings significant value to the table. This weight-conscious train that employs a space frame module concept can reach velocities of up to 120 kilometres per hour.
“Over seven intellectual property rights sprang from this project, and more than 10 entities have jumped onboard as local manufacturers and assemblers,” Weerasak disclosed.
Neighbouring nations such as Myanmar, Vietnam, and Malaysia have gained the ability to build their own locomotives, while Thailand still depends on imports, according to Weerasak.