Japan train fans help get old Japanese locomotives running in Thailand

Two old Japanese locomotives in Thailand suffering from a lack of maintenance are up and running thanks to a group of train enthusiasts from Japan.

A Thai railway construction company bought two aged DD51 diesel locomotives in 2018.

Before their retirement, the locomotives had pulled the Hokutosei sleeper train which ran between Tokyo's Ueno Station and Sapporo Station in Hokkaido, northern Japan.

They were for use in construction in the central Thai province of Ratchaburi. But their manuals did not contain sufficient details, resulting in a lack of proper maintenance work.

In 2019, some fans of Japanese trains who heard about the situation launched a crowdfunding campaign to help get the locomotives into shape. The money raised has been used for necessary parts for repairs and new manuals.

On Monday, four people involved in the assistance visited Ratchaburi, including a Japanese technician who showed how to check and maintain the locomotives.

The technician identified that the engine filter was clogged and told how to fix it.

A local mechanic said the advice was a big help and he hopes to get trained to keep the locomotive in service.

Yoshimura Motoyuki, one of the people who started the crowdfunding campaign, said the group will continue providing help. He said they hope to deepen the friendship between Japan and Thailand through trains.