Spread the love

Revolution Express-logoIn an ambitious move to enhance heritage tourism, Vietnam is set to reintroduce two meticulously restored steam locomotives from the pre-independence era. These trains will power the Revolution Express, a new and immersive heritage tourism experience scheduled to begin operations in late 2024 or early 2025. This initiative is a collaboration between Indochina Rail Tourist Service Joint Stock Company and Wafaifo Optimisers, with the latter managing the new service.

A Journey Back in Time

The Revolution Express promises a nostalgic journey through some of Vietnam’s most scenic landscapes. The two restored locomotives, initially built in the 1960s and based on the French Mikado design, will pull retro-styled carriages equipped to accommodate 57 passengers each. The train will also feature a custom-made kitchen carriage and a baggage carriage, ensuring a comfortable and authentic travel experience.

These locomotives are the last remaining working steam engines in Vietnam, restored using original parts and the expertise of veteran steam engineers from Vietnam Railways. This painstaking restoration process highlights the dedication to preserving and showcasing a significant part of Vietnam’s rail history.

The final touches are being added to the Revolution Express locomotive in its engineering workshop in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

The final touches are being added to the Revolution Express locomotive in its engineering workshop in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

Scenic Route and Unique Experiences

The Revolution Express’s daily route will take passengers from Danang city to the historic royal capital of Hue, traversing the breathtaking Hai Van coastal mountain range. The train will stop at Lang Co, offering picturesque lagoon views and beach scenery. Passengers will be treated to light food and drinks served by staff in period costumes, enhancing the old-world charm of the journey.

Strategic Partnership and Launch

The partnership agreement between Indochina Rail and Wafaifo Optimisers was signed on May 20 in Danang. Chairman Michael Gebbie represented Indochina Rail, while Managing Director Pieter van der Hoeven and Commercial Director Mikkel Krantz represented Wafaifo Optimisers.

“We are proud to bring these old dames of rail back to life and to showcase important periods in Vietnamese history from imperial through colonial rule and finally the independence struggle,” said Mr Gebbie. “We seek to give visitors an interactive sense of Vietnam’s history and future. Whether you enjoy learning about history or trains or want to ride an authentic heritage steam train over the famously scenic Hai Van Pass, the Revolution Express will offer a magical experience for young and old alike.”

Mr. van der Hoeven added, “The Wafaifo Optimisers team is excited to be a part of a remarkable heritage tourism story that will allow train enthusiasts and mainstream tourists to feel like they are travelling back in time, in comfort, in a scenically spectacular corner of Vietnam.”

Themed Dining and Station Experiences

One of the highlights of the Revolution Express experience will be themed dining at the three railway stations along the route: Kim Lien (Danang), Lang Co, and Hue. Each station will feature unique menus and entertainment schedules to coincide with the train’s arrivals.

In Hue, the original train maintenance building is being refurbished into the Station Restaurant, themed to reflect the city’s imperial history, the last bastion of the dynastic era in Vietnam. Lang Co’s restaurant will celebrate Vietnam’s independence with food carts offering homemade ice cream, freshly squeezed fruit juices, Vietnamese coffee, and newly pressed sugar cane juice. Additionally, a potential third restaurant near Danang is planned, themed to represent the colonial era of Vietnam’s history.

Renderings of interior of the Revolution Express.

Renderings of interior of the Revolution Express.

A Unique Offering in Vietnam’s Rail Sector

The Revolution Express is set to become Vietnam’s only private rail operator, offering a unique and luxurious travel experience. Wafaifo Optimisers will handle marketing, bookings, and catering for the Revolution Express and its associated stations. The company also plans to open an urban resort in Hoi An, further enhancing its contributions to Vietnam’s tourism sector.

Future Announcements and Provisional Schedule

Further details regarding the commencement of the Revolution Express and booking information will be announced in the coming months. The provisional schedule for the Revolution Express is as follows:

  • 09:00 – Depart Kim Lien Station, Danang, heading north via the Hai Van Pass.
  • 10:15 – Arrive at Lang Co station. Guests can disembark or board the train here.
  • 11:30 – Depart Lang Co for Hue Station.
  • 13:00 – Arrive at Hue Station.
  • 14:00 – Depart Hue Station.
  • 15:30 – Arrive at Lang Co Station.
  • 16:30 – Depart Lang Co Station.
  • 17:45 – Arrive at Kim Lien Station, Danang.

This initiative aims to preserve and celebrate Vietnam’s rich rail heritage and offers tourists a unique and immersive way to experience the country’s scenic beauty and historical significance.

Reintroducing these historic steam trains marks a significant milestone in Vietnam’s tourism sector, promising an unforgettable journey through time and nature. The Revolution Express is poised to become a flagship attraction, drawing visitors from around the world to experience the charm and history of Vietnam in a truly unique way. For more information and updates, stay tuned to official announcements and prepare to embark on a journey like no other.




Written by: Octavia Koo