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The trains I need, and the ones I want

I accepted at the start of this project that commercial support in the form of ready to run locomotives and rolling stock would be non-existent. That's not a new experience, some forty odd years ago I started serious railway modelling by choosing to represent the South Eastern Railway in the 1890s and there was no commercial support for that either. The difference between now and then however is the range of technology that can be brought in to assist. I have a personal computer with drawing packages which I use to produce art work for brass etching and laser cutting, I have a Silhouette cutter that I use to cut thin Plastikard with, and these days home resin casting is feasible and safe. All very different from those days where scratchbuilding was slow and laborious.

 

There being no commercial support does remove the temptation, or pressure, to deploy a loco or carriage type on the layout because a model is available rather than because it fits the overall scheme. Funnily enough though, the temptation to include items because you like them doesn't go away, and the problem I have with Thonburi is that there are things I want to model which are not appropriate for a strict model of Thonburi. I had encountered that issue when considering the scenic treatment, hence my station is more generically Thonburi than accurately so. With the locos and rolling stock though there is the danger of everything just being a free for all and there not being any theme, the curse of freelance layouts. Back in the day you'd have thought no Southern branch in the West Country missed out on it's own bit of the Atlantic Coast Express if you went by the layouts featured in the Modeller, and I did not want to revive that phenomenon.

 

My starting point is the timetable of the real Thonburi, photographed at the station itself (and two pictures stitched together for this blog)

 

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This is actually quite a nice timetable for a layout. There are two sorts of trains. One is described as "Comuter" and these are made up of a two car railcar set shuttling back and forth. (Salaya is a small place some 19 km from Thonburi). The other type of train is the "Ordinary train", basically an all-stations stopper with only third class accommodation. There are two runs to Nam Tok (this is the infamous "Death Railway", the one built by Allied POWs and Thai and Chinese forced labour) and two heading down the Southern Line for a few hundred kilometers. As far as stock is concerned these trains require me to make a pair of Japanese railcars and a number of third class carriages. I did the necessary measurements while in Bangkok a few years ago and had drawings published in CM. I've also produced the artwork for etches of the third class carriages and currently have two built and a further three under construction.

 

One thing I would like to include though is an excuse to run the Thai version of the BREL Class 158. As the layout is being built in England and could potentially be exhibited in England, that is really a layout requirement. (The other "by popular request" item is of course THAT market, but that's not going to happen. Someone else has done it already anyway)

 

The major shortcoming though is the absence of any freight. Thonburi did have freight facilities but that was before the last 500 meters of line were donated on government order to the Siriraj hospital extension. Bangkok does have a suitable freight only terminal, so the idea is to somehow combine that with Thonburi.

 

The terminal in question is Manum (or Mae Nam in some translations). It's in SE Bangkok, on the other side of the river from Thonburi. It's one of the end points of the freight only Khlong Thoei branch. I am preparing an article on this line so I have a summary map already drawn up.

 

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The traffic on this branch is crude oil in and refined products out to an oil refinery and containers to a dock on the river port. Just the sort of thing I have in mind. On my layout plan I have trains coming in along a single line which serves the passenger station and then the line splits so there are two exits at the other end. On the real Thonburi these were the lines to the original passenger platforms and freight shed, but on mine I envisage one leading to an oil refinery off stage and the other to a ship dock where small container ships dock. (The large behemoths can't come up river as far as Bangkok).

 

Now Thailand's first railway, the Paknam railway, ran through this part of Bangkok too. In reality the Paknam railway was never connected to the rest of the system. It was also turned into an inter-urban electric tramway some time after World War One and was closed in the 1960s. In the near future it is likely that the overhead BTS Sukhumvit line will be extended to Paknam, it's getting there bit by bit. That is fact. Now my alternative history is that the Paknam railway was linked to the main network by a line laid towards Chachoengsoa, possibly the junction is near the present Survanabhumi airport, the freight traffic to the river ports was run over this rather than building the line from Makkasan and that sometime in the 1990s, land requirements for redevelopment caused the last mile or two of the Paknam line to be closed and passenger services turned towards the freight stations and a new, temporary looking, station building erected and platforms laid to service passenger trains

 

In this alternative history I can run oil tanker and container trains and on the passenger side I can have railcars serving Paknam - the Paknam Comuter - and ordinary trains to places like Kabinburi and Rayong.

 

That leaves that desire for a 158 set. Well, the notorious resort of Patthaya lies on the way to Rayong. In reality Patthaya has one train a day connecting it to Bangkok's Hualamphong. In this fiction it will gain a Rapid Train from my station, operated by a class 158 railcar set - the Patthaya Express.

 

So, in my alternative Bangkok, the city has an extra passenger terminus. In addition to Hualamphong, Thonburi and Wongwangyai, there is the terminus of the South Eastern line. As this is a combination of Mae Nam and Thonburi, the name of Maenamburi might be appropriate - and with a meaning of "river fort" it sounds reasonably authentically Thai as well.

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