OSAKA — Japanese railroads are boosting their support of railway modernization efforts in other parts of Asia, providing training, used engines and rolling stock.
Next year, West Japan Railway Co. plans to donate 22 diesel-powered cars and other rolling stock to Thailand’s national railway. This follows a June 1997 donation by JR West of 54 units of used rolling stock, the first such move by a JR group carrier.
The earlier donation included express trains that had served on the JR San-in Line for 30 years. Although decades old, they are still very much fit for use, a JR West official said.
The equipment, which was shipped to Bangkok and readjusted to fit the nation’s track gauge, has been in service since January. Some of the trains are being used to carry spectators for the 1998 Asian Games, which started Dec. 6 in Bangkok.
Each year since 1994, JR West has taken in three motormen from a Vietnamese carrier for six-month training programs. The trainees are sent to various sections to work with Japanese railroaders, learning about signal systems and equipment maintenance.
Last year, JR West accepted 518 trainees from 59 nations, mainly from Asia. The number was 3.5 times more than 10 years ago.
Likewise, JR Kyushu, which has a cooperative agreement with Chinese rail authorities, has received a delegation from the country — currently preparing to privatize its rail system.
China is very interested in Japan’s efficient subway systems. Teito Rapid Transit Authority, which operates Tokyo’s Eidan subway, has been training Beijing’s subway operators since 1993. It appears Japanese railways will be tapped for further technological assistance as Asia’s train operators face the challenge of modernization.
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