Davenport diesel survivors soldiering on in Thailand

THAI State Railways (SRT) has three diesel locos still in service that were built 65 years ago by long-defunct American manufacturer Davenport Locomotive Works.

In late 2017, the three locos were reported to be operating in the centre of the country: Nos. 525 at Nakhom Ratchasima, 530 at Uttaradit, and 540 at Nakhom Lampang.

SRT Davenport diesel No. 540 (Davenport 2180/1952) attaches a coach to train 52, the 15.30 Chiang Mai-Bangkok Hua Lamphong, at Nakhon Lampang, on December 28, 2017. CLIVE HAINES

The SRT Davenport locos were first ordered as part of a major investment plan after the Second World War to rebuild the Thai rail network and repair wartime damage.

Davenport initially supplied 18 500hp Bo-Bo diesels built in the USA, while Sulzer supplied seven diesel-electric locos built in Switzerland (six earlier Sulzer diesels had been supplied to SRT in the 1930s); 100 steam locos were supplied by Japanese builders.

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