On the 1st of February 2015, a fire broke out in the front locomotive engine carriage of the luxury Eastern Oriental Express train with 200 tourists on board. Fortunately, nobody was injured. Six fire engines from Kanchanaburi Municipality were sent to the scene and extinguished the fire in 45 minutes.
Hotelintel.co contacted Belmond via their public relations representative at GHC Asia for a comment in regard to the incident and how they will address future issues using such locomotive engines that are over 30 years old. Their spokesperson stated:
‘Belmond Ltd. can confirm that a minor engine fire occurred this morning on the locomotive provided by State Railway of Thailand (SRT) at the front of its Eastern & Oriental Express train (E&O) just outside of Kanchanaburi station. The fire was quickly extinguished and a replacement locoamotive engine was immediately attached. ‘
‘The train is continuing on its journey to Singapore and passengers were able to continue with their excursions as normal. The safety and security of our passengers and staff remains our utmost priority and the Company is working with the SRT who provide the locomotives to establish the cause of the incident.’
The State Rail Authority of Thailand (SRT) has long been perceived by the public as inefficient and resistant to change. Trains are notoriously late and their equipment and engines are known to be old and poorly maintained.
Hopefully this incident will be a wake up call for the State Rail Authority of Thailand, and through pressure from Belmond and other SRT customers, the SRT will undergo a reform that is long overdue..