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Railways of the Far East

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Always thought that India or Indonesia might make a superb, and very unusual basis for a layout. In both cases you had steam locos of American, British and mainland European origins operating side by side, some ancient, some modern. With severe lack of investment in the 70s, 80s and 90s, these places were not unlike Ireland in the early 50s, with services operated by genuine museum pieces, like Sharp, Stewart 2.4.0 tender locos built in the 1870s operating in Indonesia (Java), meeting main line trains at junction stations (like Madiun) hauled by Alco or GE diesels of American origin, or huge 2.8.2's built by Henschel in 1953.

 

A layout with fantastic contrasts.

 

Meanwhile in India, a 5'6" gauge streamlined pacific, not unlike 800 "Maedb" in size and performance, would sweep into a junction station like Neral or Gwalior, where a tiny 2ft gauge loco (perhaps a Baldwin 2.8.4) would await across the platform. I was at 3 or 4 places in India in the 70s where scenes like this could be seen.

 

Another feature of these scenarios is that you would see an apparently idle loco in steam, or an elderly black-smoking diesel, setting off from weed covered sidings with a single van to go up the line to the next station on a short "trip" working in between normal trains; even in layout form, the relaxed and occasionally chaotic nature of operations would be captured perfectly.

 

Just a thought.

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Thailand would have an added dimension of Japanese-built locos. Looking at a display of old b/w photos at Bangkok's main station a few years ago, there was American, German and a few British locos (possibly ex Federated Malay States Railways?) in evidence. Also never knew that they regauged from standard to metre gauge.

Most towns on the rail network have 'stuffed and mounted' locos on display, including at Kanchanaburi, the place that inspired the Bridge on the River Kwai. They had a Garrett, a couple of NBL 4-6-0s, a Japanese (2-6-0 I think) and a Japanese railcar adapted from an army truck.

Burma still had some nice old diesels on VERY rickety track and a red/white railcar that wouldn't look out of place on the wee Donegal! And Cambodia had Chinese cast offs with a few Franco Belge kettles either on display or stored in sheds. Some rolling stock was either Aussie built or had components from that neck of the woods, saw 'Sydney Aust.' on one wheel bearing cover. The one passenger train I was on was hauled by a Czech shunter still in Czechslovakian livery and company plates!

Edited by minister_for_hardship
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Thailand would have an added dimension of Japanese-built locos. Looking at a display of old b/w photos at Bangkok's main station a few years ago, there was American, German and a few British locos (possibly ex Federated Malay States Railways?) in evidence. Also never knew that they regauged from standard to metre gauge.

Most towns on the rail network have 'stuffed and mounted' locos on display, including at Kanchanaburi, the place that inspired the Bridge on the River Kwai. They had a Garrett, a couple of NBL 4-6-0s, a Japanese (2-6-0 I think) and a Japanese railcar adapted from an army truck.

Burma still had some nice old diesels on VERY rickety track and a red/white railcar that wouldn't look out of place on the wee Donegal! And Cambodia had Chinese cast offs with a few Franco Belge kettles either on display or stored in sheds. Some rolling stock was either Aussie built or had components from that neck of the woods, saw 'Sydney Aust.' on one wheel bearing cover. The one passenger train I was on was hauled by a Czech shunter still in Czechslovakian livery and company plates!

Continental Modeller had a series on Thai railways a few years ago.

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  • 1 month later...

Regarding all of the above and my interest in things Indonesian, there are a number of enthusiast bodies in that country including the equivalent of this site concerning models. but I have yet to see a really good PJKA layout....

 

OK, it's a minority interest I know, and in a world with unlimited time and money who knows....

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The railways of Viet Nam would also make an interesting subject. The either currently use, or in the recent past used, diesel locomotives built by manufacturers in Viet Nam, USSR, Australia, USA, China, Romania, Czechoslovakia, India, Belgium and Germany. Steam locomotives, longer in use on the state system (DSVN), were built in France and have a distinctly French appearance. Steam locos were numbered using the French system - e.g. a 2-8-0 was classified as a 140, while a 4-6-2 would have been a 231 class. I’m not sure where the coaching and freight stock in use was built, but a lot of it has a Chinese look about it.

 

One aspect of the main line from Ha Noi to Ho Chi Minh City (Sai Gon) - generally referred to as HCMC - which would be of interest to modellers is the track layout at Nha Trang, a beach resort city about 400 km north of HCMC. The station here is in the city centre, about 1.5 - 2 km east of the alignment of the main line. Approaching from either direction (i.e. southwards from Ha Noi or northwards from HCMC) the two tracks run parallel without a physical connection eastwards to the station, in a layout reminiscent to the former set up between Lavistown and Kilkenny. Approaching the station there is a scissors crossover, after which a busy road is crossed on a level crossing and shortly later trains enter the station itself. Between the level crossing and the platforms in the station, another running line can be seen diverging to the right-hand side. This is the end of a tight loop which takes the main line between the backs of houses and industrial units and allows trains continue on their way without having to run around in what would otherwise be a dead-end station. In the centre of the loop there are freight sidings and engineering workshops.

Nha Trang Station Layout.jpg

It would seem that all passenger trains (possibly except the couple which terminate here) use the loop in a clockwise direction. I can’t say if freight trains use the loop as they might run around or change locos here during the time they are serving the yard. Unfortunately, when planning a recent trip to Viet Nam I didn’t know of the interesting layout in Nha Trang so didn’t put in a stop there.

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