With the time for bidding for Thailand's high-speed train projects growing closer, China is aggressively lobbying the government to select its train and construction technology.
Chinese authorities claim their products could save substantial costs.
Chinese Deputy Railways Minister Lu Chunfang yesterday told Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra that its construction costs average only US$20 million per kilometre compared with $81 million in Japan and $50 million in Germany.
Government spokesman Tosaporn Serirak yesterday said China has also convinced the government of its advanced construction technology and safety measures.
It is also committed to hiring Thai workers to handle the construction.
Mr Lu was quoted as saying China has long and vast experience in high-speed train construction that prevents accidents. Its systems run in different temperature areas and landscapes.
According to China's proposals, Thailand's system could be developed with two levels of speed - 300 kph and 250 kph - and fares.
Tickets for the faster trains would cost about 2.50 baht per person per km, while those for the slower train would be 2.10 baht per person per km.
Thailand and China signed a memorandum of understanding on April 15 to conduct a feasibility study for the Bangkok-Chiang Mai and Bangkok-Nong Khai high-speed rail links.
Transport Minister Chatchart Sithipan and Mr Lu met on Thursday at the second meeting of the joint steering committee for rail development.
Mr Chatchart said China has shown its intention to invest, particularly in the 615-km Bangkok-Nong Khai route.
That route could be used to transport goods, while China would later build a railway to link it with Dawei port in Myanmar.
The route is a strategic rail link in the Mekong subregion, as it can link Laos, Chon Buri's Laem Chabang Port, Cambodia and Myanmar.
The government plans to open international bidding early next year on the first phase of the high-speed rail project.
About the author
- Writer: Chatrudee Theparat
Position: Business Reporter