Thailand at the forefront of rail connectivity in Asia, bank says
Thailand's plans to invest 52 billion dollars in upgrading its railways to put it at the forefront of efforts to connectthe region by rail, the Asian Development Bank said Friday.
"The government is about to make an official decision on the proposed 2.2-trillion-baht (73-billion-dollar) investment in infrastructure," Thai Finance Minister Kittirat Na Ranong said in an address to an Asian Development Bank (ADB) seminar on railways reform in Thailand.
"As much as three-quarters of that amount will go to railways," he said of the budget for the next seven years, which the government is expected to approve in March.
Around 1.56 trillion baht of it will go to expanding the mass transit system in Bangkok and a new high-speed international-gauge network that will eventually link to neighbouring Myanmar and Laos.
Establishing a rail link across the mekong sub-region - covering China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam - has been along-term goal of the ADB.
"We believe there is an incredible resolution among the leaders of the (Mekong region) countries to see this kind of connectivity happen," said Stephen Groff, ADB vice president for East Asia andSouth-East Asia.
At the centre of the region, Thailand "will no doubt play a critical role for the rail transport," he said.//DPA