Royal Railway Cambodia Knuckle Couplers For Thailand-Cambodia International Train
When I was first seeing the pictures of the first international train to Cambodia from Thailand, I was wondering how the Royal Railway Cambodia‘s buffer and chain couplers on YDM 6657 were going to be compatible with the State Railway of Thailand’s knuckle couplers on the fleet of BCFs.
Alas, thanks to a Cambodia news article with onward pictures from Ban Klong Luk Border to Poipet, the mystery is now solved with a surprisingly simple solution.
Buffers and Chain Couplers
Royal Railway Cambodia operates with buffers and chain couplers throughout their fleet.
When the fleet of IRCON YDM4 6000 Series Locomotives were first delivered from Malaysia, the first major conversion was not even the livery, but to install buffers and chain couplers (and batteries).
KTM Berhad still operates with 2 types of couplers on locomotive-hauled trains till today – the regular knuckle coupler, and the horn and hook coupler. These can be operated within a single train with the use of adapter wagons, where there is a knuckle coupler on one end and one of two sides of a horn and hook coupler on the other end.
Royal Railway Cambodia‘s solution was surprisingly simple. Instead of using an adapter, they simply reinstalled the knuckle couplers which came from KTM Berhad, Malaysia when they first took delivery of it.
How do we know that it’s definitely from KTM Berhad? Well, the embossed ‘KTM’ initials on the knuckle coupler still remains.
YDM 6657 on a little bit of Thai soil at the coupling point of Ban Klong Luk Border Railway Station.
Looks like the Cambodian entourage for the first international train to Cambodia from Thailand, stood at the front of the long hood YDM 6657 for the journey from Ban Klong Luk Border to Poipet.
It’s interesting to note that YDM 6657 now has knuckle couplers back. Hopefully, this is a sign of more international trains to come as it’s quite a lot of work to convert couplers from one type to another just for one train.
However, this also makes YDM 6657 incompatible with all Royal Railway Cambodia Rolling Stock, as all of them are on buffers and chain couplers.
It will be interesting to see if Royal Railway Cambodia will designate locomotives for international and domestic use from now on, or will adapter wagons be created to pair with locomotives with knuckle couplers.