Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Modern Narrow Gauge....

Here are some of the photos I was blogging about yesterday to prove that narrow gauge systems can be up to date.

The first one is of Queensland Railways 'Tilt' trains. These passenger sets come in two flavours, electric and diesel. This is the diesel version. They are the fastest trains in Australia and they travel on narrow gauge!

These are recently aquired 4000 class diesel electric locomotives. 3000 hp and again operating on 3ft 6 inch gauge.

And finally the new DL class for KiwiRail (New Zealand Railways).

Again about 3000 hp, made in China and specifically designed for narrow gauge.

So what's my point? With a bit of track upgrading, and some thought about double tracks (at least on the busiest sections), DSVN could develop a modern, high speed system, and not have to fork out the billions required to build a Very Fast Train.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The future.....

Further to my last blog, I've been thinking (careful!) about the directions that our beloved DSVN could take into the future. Lets not worry about Very Fast Trains. I'm talking about ideas to improve the current setup.

In my last blog I referred to the sorts of  rail systems that operate in places like Queensland in Australia (birthplace of the D5H class) and South Africa. They operate on 3' 6" track, approximately 3" wider than metre gauge. Thats only about 75 mm. Yet they operate some pretty heavy freight trains and some fast passengers. In particular QR (Queensland Railways) has revolutionised its long distance passenger trains with the introduction of diesel powered 'tilt' trains. As well they operate some pretty heavy locomotives to haul mainline freights.

So metre gauge isn't the problem. Its' the combination of a single line and the construction of the track itself. Doubling the line shouldn't be so expensive. And introducing heavier rail can be carried out as track is repaired and replaced. A lot cheaper than completely rebuilding into standard gauge.

I'll put up some photos next time of what can be achieved on modern narrow gauge.

Monday, November 29, 2010


It's been a while since my last blog, Been busy working unfortunately. However I have discovered images of D9E locomotives in use under the control of the old Southern regime. They were identified as BB type or class, as were all  B-B diesels apparently. The photos are basically still images taken from old American Army movie footage. A bit rough but in colour! These U8Bs were originally brought into South Vietnam in the 60's and appear to have been painted a darker green than they are now, but the yellow numbers with a red background rmain the same, even if the actual classification has changed.

One interesting feature is the builders plate under the driver's cab window. This doesn't appear to exist on the locomotives as they are now (or have been moved to another location). You can see some of the photos on my website as well as some photos of the French diesels that preceded them.

A recent innovation on the Vietnam Railways Forum is that of the use of video. These are of variable quaility but are very useful for modelling purposes. My favourite at the moment are the videos of D18E hauled freight trains. Very impressive looking units.

Apparently despite the National Assembly voting against high speed rail, the Vietnamese Government is still looking into the feasability.Apparently the Minister has stated that it would not be feasable to udgrade the current system to standard guage from Metre guage. Seems to me that such a move is not really necessary. Rail systems such as those in New Zealand, in Queensland here in Australia, and South Africa run highly successful systems on 3 ft 6 guage which is only about 75mm wider than metre guage. heavier rail and modern rolling stock such as the new Chinese built locomotives being introduced into New Zealand would be very effective.

Until next time.....

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mystery Locomotives (2)

It would appear that I was wrong. A correspondent on the VN Railway Blogspot from Taiwan has identified the locomotive with side rods as a Japanese DD11 class 'sent to Vietnam in 1977 as a gift' and that it was numbered DD11-2. Now that I compare the locomotives it seems obvious. The mystery locomotive is clearly bigger than the Whitcomb machine and is longer.

Shows you even I can make mistakes!

Now we need to find out it's history in Vietnam. Interesting that two different locomotives built in different countries at about the same time could look so similar!

It would appear that there were two types numbered 1-3 and 4-9. Types 1-3 were built in 1954, so our Vietnamese loco (no. 2) was built in 1954.

The locomotive was apparently operated at the Kobe Freight Terminal of Japanese National Railways before being sent as a gift to Vietnam.

He has supplied some details:

Brief specification:
Axle arrangement:B-B
Engine:DMH17B 160PS/1500rpm x 2
Transmission:Kobelco TC-2 or Niigata Converter DF115 x 2
Max. power output:320PS/1500rpm
Here is a model.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mystery Locomotives

Here's a bit of a puzzle for this blog.

I am trying to identify this locomotive.

The photos are from a US government movie taken in Saigon yard, July 1967. While it looks a bit like a D9E (U8B), it isn't. The door at the end of the cab is in the middle, rather than offset like the D9E. It has been suggested that it is some form of ALCO but the bogies are wrong. They look vaguely like those used on a D12E rather than any US style I've seen.

It is numbered BB903. BB refers to the B-B wheel arrangement. D9E's had two stripes rather than the one thick one this locomotive has. Could it be French? Or perhaps built by some small US industrial locomotive builder?

A member of the Vietnam Railway Forum has produced some former southern stamps which may be showing this locomotive but as far as I can tell there is no identification.

So if anyone recognizes this locomotive please let me know.

On another note, I have been able to identify another mystery locomotive, seen rusting away in the photo below:

It is a Whitcomb 45DE29a, a US industrial locomotive used by the US army and navy so presumably taken to southern Vietnam during the American War. There are no markings so I don't know anything more about it but here's another restored one I prepared earlier:

Don't know what colour the one in VN was but it could have been light grey?

Any more information about this one would be useful as well. At least that's one mystery partly solved.

Until next time.....

Monday, September 27, 2010


Welcome to my Railways in Vietnam Blog. I've decided to start a blog in order to try and keep track of my adventures in searching out information about railways in Vietnam.

For those that don't know I have a website at http://railvn.byethost3.com called "Railways in Vietnam" where I am trying to gather together information about Vietnamese railways both past and present for English speakers.

I've visited Vietnam twice, in 2009 and again this year, and am fascinated by that country and in particular the rail system. But it's not easy to get access to all the information I need. Maybe readers of this blog will be able to help.

I have got a lot of information and images from the Vietnam Railways Forum:

There is a new English language side, and a very active Vietnamese language side. Unfortunately I don't speak Vietnamese and so have to rely on Google Translate and my Vietnamese-English dictionary to sift through the information. It takes time.

I'm also slowly putting up photos that I took on my second trip in August this year.

So wish me luck and I hope someone is reading this blog.

To start my search I'm looking for photos of Chinese DF3 diesel locomotives in VNR service (D16E class) and photos of Russian TU3  also in Vietnamese service. So if you have what I'm looking for please send them to my email address.