King Mongkut Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL), Sinogen-Pin Petch Joint Venture and the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) have introduced a prototype of a luxury 25-seater rail carriage nicknamed "Beyond Horizon", equipped with personal touch screens and facilities for those who travel with wheelchairs.
Somyot Kaitwanidvilai, dean of KMITL's School of Engineering and the project manager of Beyond Horizon, said the project is part of the Transport Ministry's innovative Thai First Policy.
It seeks to incorporate more homegrown hardware into the mass-transit network, using 40% of Thai-made materials throughout the production line. The aim is to prepare locally-made rail coaches for a spurt of upcoming nationwide network development.
In 20 years, Thailand will need at least 2,425 rail carriages to cater for railway network development. Each carriage could cost 50 million baht, or up to 100 billion baht in total.
During 2015–2018, rail carriages accounted for 80% of SRT's import costs. This presents an opportunity for Thailand to become a manufacturer in its own right, using technology localisation to improve the country's railway system, Mr Somyot said.
He said the Beyond Horizon project has received 32 million baht in funding, 25 million baht of which came from the Programme Management Unit for Competitiveness, while the rest came from the Sinogen-Pin Petch Joint Venture.
"The design of the passenger coach was inspired by airlines' business class and high-speed railways' first class," he said.
Each carriage consists of 25 seats, eight of them in the super luxury class and the rest luxury class.
All seats are provided with private screens for on-board entertainment and food orders, Mr Somyot said.
The passenger train's lavatory is built in a vacuum system like the ones on commercial planes, while the train doors' universal design is easy for people with disabilities.
Mr Somyot added the ticket price of Beyond Horizon will be similar to the price of the SRT's sleeper train's tickets.
Maethus Lertsethtakarn, executive of the Joint Venture Sinogen-Pin Petch company, said Thailand's neighbours -- Myanmar, Vietnam and Malaysia -- are able to manufacture their own carriages for domestic use.
However, Thailand still orders production materials from abroad, costing the country over 6 billion baht, he said.
"The research team has developed every element of the train which gives us thorough insight into maintenance and upgrades," he said.
"The budget for imports will be cut and our technical know-how will be available for entrepreneurs."
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha praised the project, saying it will help reduce costs by about 50% when compared to importing carriages.