Cabinet backs Sino-Thai high-speed railway deal

Economy August 24, 2016 01:00

By THE NATION

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AFTER A LONG DELAY, the Sino-Thai high-speed railroad scheme looks set to shift into gear by year-end with Thailand funding all of the civil engineering work.



The Cabinet yesterday gave the nod to a framework of cooperation between the Thai and Chinese governments to develop high-speed railways from Map Ta Phut to Nong Khai and Bangkok to Kaeng Khoi. 
“The latest conclusion we came up with is that the county will invest in all of the project’s construction,” Kobsak Phutrakul, a vice minister at the PM’s Office, said. 
The Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima route would be developed in the first phase and its extension across Isaan done later.
 
Thailand to retain ownership
The railway project will feature dual 1.435-metre gauge tracks and span 837 kilometres in total. 
Bangkok and Beijing had set a timeframe to sign the agreement of cooperation on development of the project by yesterday or today. 
The Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima route will run about 250km and require about Bt170 billion-Bt190 billion of investment.
Under the deal, Thailand will retain ownership rights for the entire project.
This would help accelerate the commencement of construction by the end of this year. 
The Chinese side would be responsible for surveying the project’s proprietarysuitability and design. 
The Thai side would be responsible for conducting environmental impact assessments, expropriating land and executing contracts. 
The contracts will be divided into two parts.
One will cover civil engineering work and procurement and the other the electric system, rolling stock and track installation, which both sides would join in.
The capital for the project would come from the government’s expense budget and domestic loans plus other sources such as China’s Import-Export Bank. 
Other areas of cooperation are human resource development, technology transfer and training.
The prime minister also instructed authorities to expedite the project so that construction would start this year, as this would be the first high-speed railway in Thailand connecting the capital with other cities, he said.