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SRT to seek funds| for infrastructure

State Railway of Thailand chairman Tawalyarat Onsira is planning to propose a five-year investment plan, worth nearly Bt80 billion, to the Transport Ministry soon.

The budget is for improving railway infrastructure.

It is believed the move will help reduce conflicts between SRT top management and the labour union as well as ensure the smooth running of services in the South.

Tawalyarat, who is also deputy permanent secretary to the Transport Ministry and chairman of a panel responsible for improving the SRT's infrastructure, revealed yesterday that of the Bt80 billion, Bt42 billion would be used to construct double-track rail routes.

In addition, about Bt17 billion would be spent on improving railways, sleepers, bridges, crossing points and signalling to ensure safety, while the remaining roughly Bt20 billion would be for improving locomotives, cargo carriages and passenger bogies.

"It is a five-year plan and is expected to be completed by 2014," Tawalyarat said.

In addition, he said there would be a 10-year railway development plan worth Bt708.86 billion for four high-speed rail projects. The high-speed trains, expected to run at 250 kilometres per hour, will be earmarked for the Bang Sue-Chiang Mai, Bang Sue-Nong Khai, Makkasan-Chanthaburi and Bang Sue-Padang Besar routes.

Tawalyarat said the private sector would be invited to invest in all projects and be granted operating concessions in return.

"Transport Minister Sophon Saram will propose this plan to investors in China who are interested in Thailand's railway," he added.

However, he said the SRT would continue with its plans |to procure additional loco-motives. Of the locomotives bought, 80 per cent will be |owned by the SRT, while the remainder will be part of a |joint venture with the private |sector. Initially, the authority expected to procure more 100 locomotives.

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