The Transport Ministry is considering cancelling about half of the upcoming Red Line electric train project, which would link Bang Sue in Bangkok to Rangsit in Pathum Thani.
Chatt: Orders ministry study
Two days after the conclusion of bidding for the construction of that section of the route, Deputy Transport Minister Chatt Kuldiloke said yesterday he had ordered a study on the ministry's proposal to terminate the project, supervised by the State Railways of Thailand (SRT).
The main reason the ministry wanted to curtail the Red Line project at Bang Sue was that it would overlap with the future extension of the Airport Rail Link from Phaya Thai station to Don Mueang airport, he said.
Cancelling the first Red Line section would save the government almost 100 billion baht in construction costs, Pol Lt Gen Chatt said.
He added the Red Line section to Rangsit would also overlap with a planned high-speed rail link project.
The Rangsit-Bang Sue route is a sub-section of the planned Red Line route. If it goes ahead as planned, it is estimated to start in 2014.
Another Red Line is planned to run from Bang Sue to Taling Chan.
Italian-Thai Development Plc on Wednesday won the bid for the contract to lay rails and for civil works of the Red Line between Bang Sue and Rangsit.
The company beat another giant construction firm, Ch Karnchang Plc, with its bid of 24.1 billion baht.
The winning bid was, however, still about 5 billion baht above the budget ceiling approved for this project.
The SRT and the ministry's Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning were assigned to jointly carry out a study to determine the advantages and disadvantages of terminating the project, Pol Lt Gen Chatt said.
The results of the study were expected in the next one to two weeks and a forum would be held on Thursday to invite opinions on the project's potential termination, said Pol Lt Gen Chatt.
The deputy minister also said the SRT is in the process of splitting its operations into distinct business units, covering rail operations, asset management and maintenance functions.
This is to serve the development of infrastructure.
The government has earmarked 176 billion baht in funds for rail investment by the SRT through 2014.
The development includes improving the railways throughout the country by widening dual tracks with standard gauge from 1 metre to 1.435m wide.
The first phase of the double-track project is under way, starting in 2010 and due to finish in 2014, with a total of 765km of track to be laid.
The second (1,025km) and third phase (1,247km) will start in 2015 and 2020, respectively.
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- Writer: Amornrat Mahitthirook