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Top of the ‘minority’ pops

Big station for small trains

How the Siam railways ended up with Swiss locomotives

Top of the ‘minority’ pops

Seven-group collaboration concert

Autsadaporn Kamthai

Over 4,000 minority group people enjoyed the First International Pop Concert by Mekong Hill Tribe Musicians arranged by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Radio Thailand Chiang Mai (RTC).

The Akha MC (center) entertains the audience and greets all Akha compatriots, flanked by the two MC’s from the Public Relations Department.

The concert at the Public Relations Department Region 3’s Office in Chiang Mai, aimed at campaigning against HIV/AIDS, human trafficking and drug abuse among hill tribe people, with emphasis on the youth.

An artist from the Lahu Na tribe performing.

Twenty of the most popular singers from the seven minority groups of the Akha, Hmong, Karen, Lahu, Lisu, Mien and Shan communities gathered to entertain, and raise awareness of the community problems. The concert was the first joint activity by the seven minority groups in the Mekong sub-region.

“They lack information on these issues in their own languages, so that they are at risk,” said Sheldon Shaeffer, director of the UNESCO regional office in Bangkok. Having young minority people as the main target, pop music was used as the tool to get through to them.

“UNESCO is committed to providing people with prevention information in their own language and based on their own specific cultural context, and Radio Thailand Chiang Mai has operated minority language broadcasting for nearly 40 years and is an essential partner in holding this concert,” said Shaeffer.

It was broadcast live by Radio Thailand, to Thailand, southern China, Lao PRD, northern Vietnam, Myanmar and parts of India, to spread the information to approximately 15 million minority people in the Mekong sub-region. The concert was also televised live by Channel 11.

A Lisu wai to the audience at the end of their traditional performance.

Each minority group representative takes the floor as the MC’s take turns to entertain the audience.

Hmong singers and dancers.

The Lisu performance.

Sheldon Shaeffer, UNESCO; Pol Col Peerapant Premphoot, Anti Money Laundering Office; and MC’s from the seven minority communities show their solidarity in fighting AIDS, human trafficking and drug abuse.

The Public Relations Department MC (second left), the Thai Yai representative (left), and the Lisu and Akha representatives (second and first right) welcome the audience.

Big station for small trains

Chiang Mai contingent joins world’s model train enthusiasts

Staff reporters

“The world’s largest exhibition of model railways has always been a great success, but this event far surpassed all expectations in terms of both the quantity and quality of items on display,” said Uwe Konrad.

Perfect down to the most minute detail.

Uwe is an enthusiast of the history of the railway of Thailand and founder of “The Iron Horse”, representing several German Model Railway brands in Thailand.

Not much is more heart warming then seeing a grandfather pass his knowledge and enthusiasm to his grandchildren.

This was the first time a small company from Chiang Mai, managed by Konrad’s son Michael, was invited to the exhibition. Michael opened the first Model Railways Shop in Chiang Mai at Udomphon (Zirieng) on Ratchavithi Road, in August this year.

One of the larger model train stations at the world’s largest exhibition of model railways.

The 11th Model Railways International was held over four days and was held in Koln, in Germany. Fathers and sons in particular were to be found exploring the world of trains, and almost 100,000 visitors attended the event. “We are highly satisfied with the overall result” was the overriding message from the 178 exhibitors, who came from 12 countries in all.

Visitors had the chance to find information about the latest trends and new products and accessories for model railway construction. Market leaders, renowned small series manufacturers and specialist suppliers were on hand to offer a complete overview of the entire range of products available. In addition, professionals from Germany and abroad made the most of the opportunity to swap tips and tricks, and to pass on suggestions for improvements to the experts. The new trends for model railway construction include lifelike sound effects and the latest track and train software for the PC.

The track layout presentation was also highly admired. The smallest could fit in a suitcase, while the largest, a Swiss made model track of the Glacier-Express and the Rhaethian Railway in scale H0m, covered 450 square meters. Incidentally, the 1926 imported original of one of these Rhaethian Railway 2-8-0 model locomotives, is standing in front of the Chiang Mai Railway Station.

How the Siam railways ended up with Swiss locomotives

Uwe Konrad

In the 1920s, the Iron Horses where the only reliable connection between Chiang Mai and the Siamese capital via the Royal State Railway of Siam (RSR). During that time, Siam was still in a gauge conversion phase from standard gauge to meter gauge.

Ex-Rhaetian Railway 2-8-0 No 334 emerges from Khun Tan tunnel.

The traffic situation on the northern line was getting worse as a result of traffic volume growing faster than the number of available meter gauge locomotives. A solution had to be found with some urgency. A widespread search for suitable meter gauge locomotives led to success in Switzerland, where the Rhaetian Railway had been actively pursuing an electrification policy on its lines. This had resulted in the redundancy of a class of twenty-nine 2-8-0 tender locomotives, built between 1904 and 1915 in two slightly different versions by the Swiss Locomotive and Machine (SLM) Works of Winterthur.

Ex-Rhaetian Railway 2-8-0 No 340 in front of the Chiang Mai Railway Station.

These locomotives had been designed for mountain sections with the specification to haul 90-95 tons against 3.5 percent grade at a speed of 30-32 km/h, with a power output of 800 hp being required.

These engines were considered suitable and in 1926 the twelve newest were taken over and put into service on the northern line as RSR No 331 through to No 342. In 1927, No 343 to No 348 were used as a mixed-traffic locomotives for difficult sections and they always served between Uttaradit and Chiang Mai. Here they spent all their working life in RSR service, until the early 1950s, when they were gradually taken out of service and scrapped. Two of them survived: No 336 was kept for the museum, but with the running number 338; like several other locomotives it remained in the yard at Makkasan works for a number of years before finally being preserved at Lampang. The other survivor was No 340, which was erected as a monument in front of the Chiang Mai Railway Station.