Double Track Rail Project Set to Start
Thailand and China are to begin construction later this year of four sections of a double-track rail route according to plans announced by the Thai Transport Minister ACM Prajin Juntong on 15 January.
Two sections are due to be completed in 2017 and the others the following year said the minister.
Thailand and China will be jointly developing of the double-track railways with the first two sections — a 133km track from Bangkok to Kaeng Khoi and a 246.5km track between Kaeng Khoi and Map Ta Phut — beginning in September this year, and services to start in December 2017.
The two remaining sections — a 138.5km track between Kaeng Khoi and Nakhon Ratchasima and a 355km track from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai — will start in December this year, and services should commence in March 2018.
The 873km rail project is estimated to cost 350 billion baht. The minister said this figure could vary pending land surveys, hinting at a potential rise.
The minister said that after holding talks with Chinese counterparts in the third week of January details of the projects, including the land survey, construction plans and the time frame for each job, along with the proportions of domestic and foreign investment, will be made clear.
Between 12 and 15 Thai companies with experience in various fields are being sought out to take part in the project, while the Chinese will conclude a list of developers from five Chinese state enterprises.
The firms will be weighed up and selected to proceed with the project, said the minister, adding the final details will be known by the time a third meeting takes place at the end of February.
In December 2014, Thailand and China signed an agreement to construct the 734km Nong Khai-Nakhon Ratchasima-Kaeng Khoi-Map Ta Phut rail line and a 133km track from Kaeng Khoi to Bangkok.
Deputy Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said the first meeting will pave the way for the establishment of a joint steering committee, which will lay out the schedule of work and designs and conduct a project expenses appraisal.
Train carriage technology will employ the Chinese-made system, while track design will be made to comply with the Thai topography since it may be necessary for the sections to go through mountain tunnels.
The first talks will also touch on human resources development and technology sharing on railway construction and operation between Thailand and China.
Mr Arkhom said a sub-committee assigned to make decisions on finance sources and type of investment has been tasked with conducting a study to find the most suitable type/s of investment and the best methods for the optimum benefit of Thailand. The sub-committee was due to lay out the details before a second meeting which is to take place between 5 and 7 February.