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Thailand to Introduce 184 New Hybrid Trains

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) is set to introduce 184 new hybrid trains, though it remains unclear whether these will utilize battery power or overhead electric supply. SRT aims to finalize the details and submit comprehensive information to the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) by September 2024. Deputy Transport Minister Surapong Piyachote has mandated the completion of this procurement within the year, with a production timeline of approximately three years.

Deputy Transport Minister Surapong Piyachote addressed concerns about the shortage of passenger trains amidst the construction of several high-value double-track railway projects. He emphasized the urgency of procuring new locomotives and passenger trains to support the nationwide rollout of the double-track rail service. Initial reports from SRT indicate that the procurement process is focusing on hybrid technology, combining diesel and electric (EV) power, to align with current environmental needs, particularly in urban areas like Bangkok, where public transport is increasingly shifting to electric power.

The hybrid system aims to reduce urban air pollution, with SRT considering both battery and overhead electric power options for their efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and environmental benefits. Future SRT train operations are planned to be electric within a 200-kilometer radius of Bangkok, while areas beyond this range may continue to use diesel systems to combat global warming and address PM 2.5 pollution in urban zones.

Surapong noted that hybrid trains are already widely used in countries like Germany. He has instructed SRT to expedite the process, with a goal of finalizing the procurement by 2024 and allowing for a production period of about three years.

Regarding freight, the procurement of container freight cars is under review by the NESDC. SRT has proposed converting a project initially intended for acquiring 184 air-conditioned diesel trains for commercial service into a hybrid system. The NESDC has requested additional information from SRT, particularly concerning cost-efficiency and price evaluations. SRT is working to provide this data and aims to respond by September 2024.

These developments come amidst increasing scrutiny and demand for environmentally sustainable transport solutions, with officials keen to ensure the new trains meet both operational and environmental standards.

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