Chinese government officials advising Thailand on the development of its high-speed train network have suggested that it begin with a 54km route linking Bangkok and Ayutthaya.
Transport Minister Chadchat Sittipunt met recently with Chinese officials who advised him on the network.
They suggested that the Bangkok-Ayutthaya route be a good starting point as it would fall in line with the government's push to have the ancient capital serve as host for the 2020 World Expo, Mr Chadchat said on Friday.
Thailand is competing with other countries to host the expo following the success of the Kingdom's pavilion at this year's World Expo in South Korea.
The route proposed by the Chinese officials would terminate at Phachi station in Ayutthaya.
The government has been studying setting up potential long-haul high-speed lines from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Bangkok to Nong Khai.
These were tabled at a recent meeting between Thai and Chinese officials.
The Bangkok-Chiang Mai route initially was set to use trains that travelled between 250-300kph.
However, the Chinese team studying high-speed rail development in Thailand suggested that faster trains travelling at 300kph would be more appropriate for the route, even though they would cost 20 billion baht more.
They reasoned that higher fares could be charged for the faster trains.
Costs for the construction of this route are estimated to be about 300 billion baht.
The 615km Bangkok-Nong Khai route is estimated to cost about 298 billion baht. The construction of the line is also aimed at facilitating freight transportation linking Thailand, Laos as well as China.
China is interested in bidding for the two projects and is ready to compete against other countries to build the high-speed train system.
Officials from the country said it can build the system for 460 million baht per kilometre, Mr Chadchat said.
A round of bidding is expected to take place next year, Chula Sukmanop, chief of the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning, said.
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- Writer: Amornrat Mahitthirook