SRT Special 951 from Bangkok Hua Lamphong to Lopburi by Train (KiHa 183 series • キハ183系 • ex-JR Hokkaido Limited Express Okhotsk)

SRT Special 951 Train from Bangkok Hua Lamphong to Lopburi by KiHa 183 series (キハ183系)

The Special 951 is a tour train from Bangkok Hua Lamphong to Lopburi by ex-JR Hokkaido Limited Express Okhotsk KiHa 183 series. This tour train operated on 11, 12, 18, and 19 February 2023 to Lopburi in conjunction with the King Narai the Great Fair 2023. The main attraction for me was definitely the KiHa 183 series though, following after my Sapporo trip on board Limited Express Okhotsk last year, so I bought myself a ticket immediately once they were released for sale earlier in February, especially when this trip costs only 599 Baht.

Bangkok Hua Lamphong Railway Station

The SRT Special 951 KiHa 183 series journey starts from Bangkok Hua Lamphong Railway Station as an excursion train.

Heading in to Bangkok Hua Lamphong Railway Station.

The Special 951 was not listed on the departure board at Bangkok Hua Lamphong Railway Station.

The station hall is also quite empty with the absence of long distance trains.

Over at the main central platforms 4 and 5, it’s sakura season in Bangkok with faux cherry blossom trees and bamboo complimenting the KiHa 183 series boarding area.

The Special 951 KiHa 183 series to Lopburi would be departing from Platform 5.

This felt just slightly weird to be boarding a train numbered 951 as the train which bears the name and number Special 951 is the Eastern & Oriental Express, which notably has not yet resumed operations.

KiHa 183 series • キハ183系

Finally, I get to meet the KiHa 183 in person in Bangkok.

To commemorate this occasion, I brought along the cab car of my Plarail KiHa 183 to meet its real-life sister.

The logos of both the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) and JR Hokkaido are painted on to the repainted train. This is particularly interesting as other JR companies tend to have their logos removed from donated train, whereas JR Hokkaido has a brand new logo painted on instead.

The destination blind has been replaced with a fixed train destination plate, the “Limited Express Makkasan” in English, or overly simplified 「特急マッカサン」 in Japanese. However, this is not an accurate translation of what the rest of the Japanese words say.

The left red side bears the train name 「特急オホーツク」 which translates to Limited Express Okhotsk, the original train service of the KiHa 183 in Hokkaido.

The right white side bears the destination 「マッカサン工場」 which translates to Makkasan Factory.

The Japanese translation 「特急オホーツク/マッカサン工場」 bears more meaning on the KiHa 183’s new life as the “Limited Express Okhotsk to Makkasan Factory” as the former train operating on the Limited Express Okhotsk now continues its service out of Makkasan Factory today.

The front view of the KiHa 183 on the outbound end.

The KiHa 183 now bears a headboard of the SRT logo and the Japanese destination of 「マッカサン工場」 Makkasan Factory, matching the side destination plate.

Boarding the 「特急オホーツク/マッカサン工場」 “Limited Express Okhotsk to Makkasan Factory”.

A new step has been installed below the train doors to cater to low platforms on the SRT network.

Car numbers are printed on additional laminated A4 papers on top of the usual car number brackets.

The interior of my Car 2 where I have booked my seat in.

My window seat at 14D for this KiHa 183 ride to Lopburi.

Seats are laid out in 2+2 reserved seat configuration throughout the train. No KiHa 183 Green Car carriages are available in Thailand.

Much of the fittings around the interior seem to have been retained.

All seats on board the Special 951 are reserved.

However, these seem to be replicas of the original plate as it looks too new to be true. The car number sticker of 182-22 is also missing キハ.

The car number on the outside, on the other hand, has the number accurately repainted as キハ182-22, with the new SRT logo above it.

The tourism posters at the rear of Car 2 are also promoting Japanese history during World War II at the River Kwai Bridge which I’m not sure if it’s really appropriate.

There is also a new SRT pandemic-related notice in Japanese and English which is now just an advisory and not a rule anymore.

Toilets are available in Cars 2 and 3.

There is a sink area as part of the dressing room.

A sitting toilet is available for all passengers.

A standing urinal toilet is also available for males.

Cars 1 and 4 have grey seats instead, but still in a 2+2 configuration with all reserved seats.

Interestingly, they seem to have new SRT headrest covers.

A brand new train seat map has also been created by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) for the 4-car KiHa 183 formation in Thailand.

The headboard on the Bangkok side of the KiHa 183 bears the SRT logo along with a 2D rendering of the KiHa 183.

Returning to my seat to properly enjoy my Japanese train ride, my seat pocket was now filled with information on the Lopburi tour along with a small bottle of water.

The itinerary for the Lopburi tram tour, a map of the King Narai the Great Fair 2023 at King Narai’s Palace, a city map of Lopburi, and a bottle of water was provided at each seat before departure.

I also had my own Langue de Chat and milk tea for a pseudo-Hokkaido experience.

The legroom available on board the KiHa 183.

I had also brought along my KiHa 183 Okhotsk keychain purchased from JR Hokkaido from the JR Tower Observatory T38. Now it’s back on board the Limited Express Okhotsk.

My ticket for the Special 951/952 for the KiHa 183 Lopburi round-trip journey.

Outside the train nearing departure time, SRT staff are in yukatas to welcome passengers on board.

The Special 951 KiHa 183 departed from Bangkok Hua Lamphong Railway Station on time at 12.15pm.

Trainspotters document the departure of the Special 951 KiHa 183 from Bangkok Hua Lamphong Railway Station.

Passing by the monument commemorating the first railway in Thailand between Bangkok and Ayutthaya.

Passing by the railcar depot at Hua Lamphong.

Passing by the Headquarters of the State Railway of Thailand.

Crossing Phetchaburi Road.

Crossing Si Ayutthaya Road.

Passing through Chitralada Royal Railway Station.

Passing through Ramathibodi Hospital Railway Halt.

Crossing Ratchawithi Road.

Crossing Nakhon Chaisi Road.

Sam Sen Railway Station

Making a brief stop at Sam Sen Railway Station.

Approaching where the Red Line descends onto ground level and underground in the next extension through the city.

Passing over Khlong Prapa.

Looking at the brand-new Japanese Nong Daeng from the KiHa 183.

Passing by Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal.

Tickets were checked at this point.

As this is a tour train, both onward and return train tickets are checked together.

Bang Sue Junction Railway Station

Making a brief stop at Bang Sue Junction Railway Station with more passengers ready to board the KiHa 183.

Departing from Bang Sue Junction Railway Station with more people taking photos and videos of the KiHa 183.

Passing by the junction to the Southern Line.

Passing by Chatuchak Railway Station and former Nikhom Rotfai KM.11 Railway Halt.

Heading up the ramp to the elevated Red Line tracks after former Nikhom Rotfai KM.11 Railway Halt.

Approaching the elevated electrified quadruple-track railway before Wat Samian Nari Railway Station.

This also marks my first time using the route from Bang Sue Junction up to the new elevated Red Line electrified quadruple-track line.

Passing by Wat Samian Nari.

Passing through Wat Samian Nari Railway Station.

Here, SRT staff greet everyone and introduce the day’s itinerary. Notably, the in-train PA system is not used, but instead, the staff used the usual loudhailer. All information throughout the day is provided in Thai.

Passing through Bang Khen Railway Station.

Passing by the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA BANGKOK).

Overtaking a Red Line train at Thung Song Hong Railway Station.

After the introduction, the staff starts the KiHa 183 stamp rally a la Japan. It’s just 1 stamp, but I’m quite surprised SRT took the effort to see what Japan is doing to adapt the train journey to it.

At the back of the itinerary, there is a space for a stamp.

The SRT staff comes around to stamp your paper for you.

The KiHa 183 stamp affixed on my paper, a Thailand exclusive.

Now everyone between Sapporo and Abashiri needs to come to Thailand to complete the stamp collection of the KiHa 183.

Passing through Lak Si Railway Station.

Passing through Kan Kheha Railway Station.

Approaching Don Mueang Railway Station.

Taking the line heading to the lower platform for long distance trains.

Don Mueang Railway Station

Making a brief stop at Don Mueang Railway Station.

The high grey platforms at Don Mueang Railway Station makes the KiHa 183 experience feel like its back in Japan.

At Don Mueang Railway Station, the SRT staff started the snack service. This is included in the ticket for all passengers.

A purple paper is provided to line the tray table.

I was quite surprised to receive this snack box as I wasn’t expecting any frills for 599 Baht as compared to the Japanese experience to Chachoengsao which costs 1999 Baht.

The snack box has a sticker with the KiHa 183 outside King Narai’s Palace.

Inside the snack box was a pair of Japanese sweets of a Matcha Melon Pan and a cake with whipped cream and blueberry. I’m quite impressed with SRT’s dedication to provide a Japanese experience to customers, unlike many other countries who have received second-hand trains from Japan, whether by donation or purchase.

Catering is from Play Space.

Passing by the Airports of Thailand (AOT) head office.

Meeting the ground level line at Grand Canal.

Passing by Lak Hok Railway Station.

Passing under Ek Thaksin Road with the new bridge to eliminate the level crossing here.

Approaching Rangsit Railway Station on the low level for long distance trains.

Rangsit Railway Station

Making a brief stop at Rangsit Railway Station.

Here, the SRT staff distribute “Passenger” passes for easy identification in Lopburi.

This followed quite surprisingly by a souvenir keychain handout.