New Heritage Steam Train Experience in Vietnam

A new tourist steam train, the Revolution Express, is expected to start operating day trips in central Vietnam in late 2024 or early 2025.

Two original steam locomotives from the 1960s have been lovingly restored to working condition. The locomotives will pull two fully appointed retro-styled carriages that can seat up to 57 passengers each, as well as a custom-made kitchen carriage and a baggage carriage.

Designers 3D render of the carriage interiors, which are dark wood furniture and light wood ceilings
Render of the two carriage interiors

The locomotives are the last remaining working steam engines in Vietnam, dating from the pre-independence era. Both were built locally in Vietnam, based on the French Mikado design. They have been painstakingly restored over a number of years, using original parts and utilising the skills of the last remaining steam engineers working for Vietnam Railways.

The Revolution Express will make a round trip between Danang city and the former royal capital of Hue each day. Departing Danang at 9.00am, each journey will traverse the scenically remarkable Hai Van coastal mountain range and stop for 15 minutes at Lang Co Station, with its beautiful lagoon and beach scenery. The train will then continue on to Hue, arriving at lunchtime. The return journey will depart Hue at 2.00pm and arrive back at Danang at 5.45pm. En route, passengers will be able to enjoy light food and drinks served by staff in period costume.

A train snakes its way through the jungle on the side of a hill above coastal beaches
Coastal route central Vietnam

It’s not just the train that is being refurbished. The project includes the stations – Hue, Lang Co, and possibly Kim Lien station (Danang) – where there will be themed dining restaurants and retail outlets. That’s because they are being designed to also attract other road and VNR (Vietnam National Rail) passengers travelling on the route.

In Hue, the original train maintenance building is being refurbished as the Station Restaurant. The venue is being themed in an imperial manner befitting the history of Hue, the last bastion of the dynastic era in Vietnam.

In Lang Co, the restaurant will be themed to mark the independence that Vietnam enjoys today. Apart from a full restaurant offering, food carts will be on the station platform offering homemade ice cream, freshly squeezed fruit juices, Vietnamese coffee, and newly pressed sugar cane. Regular VNR-run trains all stop at Lang Co station for passenger refreshments.

If Danang is developed, it will be themed in a colonial manner to reflect a different era in Vietnam’s national journey.

Owners, Indochina Rail and the train operators, Wafaifo Optimisers, signed a partnership agreement two days ago (20 May) in Danang. The Revolution Express is the only private rail operator in Vietnam, and more details of their operation will emerge over the coming months.

All images courtesy of Revolution Express


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