Japan-made SL Photography and Thailand Blue Train Journey On the SL train commemorating the birth of King Bhumibol, the SL of Japan and Kawasaki is doubled – Travel Observation


Steam locomotives made in Japan that play an active role in the King’s Birthday commemorative train

When I arrived at Bangkok Station at 7:00 the next morning, there was already SL on the platform. Bangkok Station is often referred to as Hua Lamphong Station. This is because it is located in a place called Hua Lamphong in Bangkok, so it is like a “popular name”. Taking the first part of the official name of Bangkok’s governor “Krung Thep Mahanakhon…”, “Krung Thep” is correct. Although it is written in Thai, this time I decided to simply write “Bangkok Station”.

The commemorative train departs from Bangkok Station at 7:30. Both leading SLs are made in Japan. Exported from Japan immediately after the Pacific War, the locomotive remained in working condition after it was decommissioned, and is still in loving use today. Thailand currently has five Japanese-made steam locomotives in operation. In recent years, many rail cars have been transferred from Japan to Indonesia and Myanmar, and are active in Asian countries across the sea. In Thailand, steam locomotives brought long ago from Japan are maintained by railway workers, and it is moving to see that they still lead the commemorative train.

The type standing on the locomotive today is called “Pacific”. The name stands for the wheel arrangement of the locomotive type. The arrangement of 2 front wheels, 3 drive wheels and 1 rear wheel is called Pacific. The C57 type operating on the “Pan Yue Monogatari” on the Pan Yue West Line and the “Yamaguchi” Yamaguchi Line in Japan is also a Pacific type. The locomotive numbers are 824 and 850. The 824 was built by Nippon Sharyo in 1949 and the 850 by Kawasaki Sharyo in 1950. In operation, the two vehicles are connected back-to-back. This is to save the locomotive the trouble of reversing direction at the switchback station.

The commemorative train is waiting to depart.Looks like it’s ready to smoke


Line 824 is the first train bound for Chachoengsao Station. 1949 Japanese vehicle locomotive


The parts on either side of the locomotive’s head are called “deflectors” and have the vehicle manufacturer’s nameplate on them. Since SL was originally produced for overseas, the nameplate is also written in letters.Manufactured by Kawasaki Cheliao (now Kawasaki Heavy Industries)


Plate made by Nippon Sharyo.Overseas Alphabet Notation

Against the backdrop of Bangkok Station, which is expected to change in the future

In most years, the commemorative train often runs to the ancient capital of Ayutthaya, about 76 kilometers north of Bangkok, but in 2015, the train will run to Chachoengsao, about 61 kilometers east of Bangkok. Chachoengsao is close to Suvarnabhumi International Airport, the gateway to Bangkok.

It’s a personal preference, but when shooting SL it’s best to get as smokey a shot as possible. Some photographers from SL met the train on the steep slope leading up to the mountain pass. That’s because the uphill SL emits a lot of smoke. However, in the case of Thailand, most trains run on flat sections with no slopes and due to the heat, no smoke is expected.

Due to the consideration of the shooting location, I decided to temporarily shoot the scene of departure from the Bangkok station. Thai Railways is currently working to raise the height of the tracks near Bangkok. Bang Sue Station is located 7.4 kilometers north of Bangkok Station, and the Bang Sue Station connected to the subway may become the main terminal in the future. In view of this, there may be some changes in the section from Bang Sue Station to Bangkok Station. I figured I’d record the scene where SL departs four times a year from Bangkok Station (as the main terminal).

Just north of the station, there is an overpass on Rama I Road, which seemed safe to photograph. When I got to the scene five minutes before departure, there were a few Thai guys with cameras on the overpass. I feel that I am a photography enthusiast, so I don’t think it is a so-called “shooting iron”, but when I think of the same thing, I have a familiar feeling. When I greeted him, he smiled and happily let me join him.


Memorial train leaving Bangkok Station. Two steam locomotives operate with 10 passenger cars.


The tracks entering and exiting Bangkok Station are almost full, and the commemorative train seems to be passing through it.


Passing by the Thai Railway Headquarters after the filming ended, there was a festive atmosphere.


After the departure of the commemorative train, a celebration was held in the station hall. I saw it from the second floor, it was a cafe.

The keyword for ticket purchase is “JR”

Japan’s Blue Train vehicles are operated by express trains 13 (downbound) and 14 (upbound) connecting Bangkok and Chiang Mai. I decided to take train number 13 from Bangkok. However, when it came time to buy the tickets, I was a bit lost. Undoubtedly 13 trains are connected to Blue Train cars, but not all. Half of the 10-car trains are made in Korea. If you get on a Korean car by mistake, the meaning of riding will be halved. How to explain this… Hesitating, I lined up in front of the foreigner counter at Bangkok Station, telling them the date, destination, train number and my favorite air-conditioned sleeper second-class car. The question is how to explain the blue train after this.

So, I started saying, “I’m from Japan”, but the female staff at the counter smiled and said, “You want to take the JR train!” I felt relieved when I said, “Well, this is the JR train”. The JR train seems to be popular, he said, “There are other sleeper cars.” If you refuse to say “Other”, we will ask you to come tomorrow at 12:00.

The next day, when I went to the window again at 11:30 a little earlier than the agreed time, the woman from yesterday was gone and another woman answered the phone. I immediately asked to take the “JR train”, but the single order was “full”. Something is different from yesterday. Thinking about it, I remember that woman was emphasizing “12 o’clock” yesterday. This time, at exactly 12 o’clock, I called “JR train” from another window. Then, he answered “yes” smoothly. After all, specifying a time of “12 o’clock” seems to make sense. In this way, I successfully got the blue train ticket.


You can see the letter JR on the “CLASS COACH TYPE” ticket I finally got. The price of using the lower berth for 751 kilometers from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is 881 baht (about 2940 yen)

When requesting a 14-series or 24-series sleeper car, please try “JR Train”, and if there are no vacant seats, please try to line up at the counter at 12:00 noon. However, you can use this ticket to get tickets only if you cancel your reservation. Note that it is not always possible to obtain it.

Filming the driving scene near the highest point in Thailand, Khun Dan Station

Early the next morning, I decided to shoot the operation scene of the No. 13 express train near Kundan Station (578m above sea level), which is the highest place in Thailand. Khun Thanh Station is located at the Chiang Mai side exit of Khun Thann Tunnel (1352m in length), which is the longest railway in Thailand. For photographing the long train journey from Bangkok in the morning, it is best to stay near the Khun Tan station. But because it is located deep in the mountains, I don’t know if there is a place to live. The lodge was empty when I went straight to it and was able to get in for a surprisingly low price.

The 13th express train departs from Khuntan station at 7:37. As the winter solstice approached, the sun could not reach the railway tracks on the mountain, but I was able to photograph the passing trains on the hillside near the railway tracks. The difference from the day before boarding was that this train consisted of six carriages, four in the front and two in the rear, with a dining car in the middle. The blue train galloped past in the fresh morning air.


The morning after arriving in Chiang Mai, I snapped a photo of a train passing near Khuntan station after returning from Bangkok. Khun Dan Station is the highest station in Thailand.

[Apology and Correction]When the article was first published, there was an error in the description of ANS and the explanation of the Bangkok station. We apologize and will correct it.


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