Thai-built prototype of super-luxury train debuts
King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang has unveiled a prototype of the most luxurious passenger train in Asean, designed and manufactured by Thais under the name "Beyond Horizon".
The train will be delivered to the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) in September. The project was developed by the programme management unit for competitiveness (PUMC) and the Office of National Higher Education Science Research and Innovation Policy Council, according to Associate Professor Weerasak Udomkitdecha who chairs the programme’s future transportation, robotics and automation subcommittee.
Researchers from King Mongkut's Institute of Technology LadKrabang collaborated with Sinogen-Pinpetch Joint Venture and the SRT with funding from PMUC. The project focused on the integration of basic technologies available in Thailand to align with the “Thai First” policy of the Ministry of Transport and the government's effort to promote domestically produced goods, especially in railway projects.
In the future, train purchases are expected to require at least 40% local content. Over the next 20 years, demand for passenger train cars is estimated to be at least 2,425 units. With the increasing investment in railway infrastructure by the state, the average value of a train car is about 50 million baht, making the market for manufacturing passenger train cars worth at least 100 billion baht a year, Weerasak said.
Rolling stock is considered a crucial technology in the value chain of the rail system. Importing rolling stock and components accounted for up to 80% of the total value of imported railway products from 2015 to 2018. Consequently, there is a significant opportunity to accelerate the development of manufacturers in the supply chain to improve Thailand's rail transport industry, Weerasak said.
The team designed the entire train, inspired by the business class seats on jets and high-speed trains. The prototype has 25 seats, including eight super-luxury and 17 luxury seats. Each seat has a personal entertainment screen and an onboard robot waiter for food service. The train also features facilities to accommodate passengers with disabilities.
The developed prototype offers significant value compared to imports. Additionally, the train's weight has been reduced through the use of a space frame modular concept, and it can reach speeds of up to 120 kilometres per hour.
"We have obtained more than seven intellectual property rights from the project, and more than 10 companies have joined the project as manufacturers and assemblers in the country," Weerasak said.
Neighbouring countries Myanmar, Vietnam, and Malaysia have the capacity to manufacture their own locomotives, but Thailand still relies on imports, Weerasak said.