Restoring the Last Steam Locomotive in Hanoi

The Tu Luc steam locomotive will be converted into a showcase venue for the Hanoi Creative Design Festival 2023.


A plan is underway to revive Hanoi’s forgotten Tu Luc (self-reliance) locomotive and turn it into a unique creative space for young people.
The Gia Lam Train Factory, an old factory that will soon be moved out of downtown Hanoi, is undergoing a massive renovation to become a funky, creative and recreational space. It is also the main venue for many cultural and creative activities that will take place during this year’s Creative Design Festival.
According to Vietnam Railways, locomotive number 141-179 is a remnant of Vietnam’s steam train era. The first steam train in Vietnam started rolling in 1881, during the French colonial period. Over time, steam locomotives were gradually replaced by electric and diesel ones. In 2003, the last steam locomotive in Vietnam was retired.

This steam locomotive was built in 1966 by Vietnam Railways using the design prototype of the French 141 Mikado class locomotive. Photo: Huy Pham/The Hanoi Times
The locomotive is about 19 meters long, 2.75 meters wide, 3.8 meters high, and weighs about 100 tons.
This is one of three Tu Luc locomotives left in Vietnam. A similar one is on display at Saigon Station, and another now adorns Danang Station.
Tu Luc steam locomotive is considered a historical testimony as it pulled the Thong Nhat Train from the north to the south of the country after the anti-American war in 1975, symbolizing national reunification.
The boiler is located at the top of the locomotive. After being burned, coal and wood create heat to vaporize water, which causes the piston to turn, creating traction for the train to move.
The Tu Luc train’s coal-burning chamber.
The coal storage compartment of the train has a capacity of tens of tons.
A Tu Luc locomotive typically has one pair of leading wheels, four pairs of driving wheels, and one pair of trailing wheels.
The locomotive has a tractive force of 1,100 horsepower, the strongest in Vietnam at the time of production. The speed of the train is about 67 km/h.
Today, this historical testimony is an endless source of creativity for Hanoi’s youth.