A new department will be set up to oversee railway investment and regulation, taking over these responsibilities from the problem-plagued State Railway of Thailand (SRT).
Permanent secretary for transport Wichean Potephosree chaired a meeting yesterday on restructuring transport organisations. The new department was proposed at the meeting.
Speaking after the meeting, Pol Gen Wichean said the Department of Rail Transport (DRT), which will be a part of the Transport Ministry, will take over railway investment and regulation from the SRT.
The SRT's duties would be confined to operating trains and laying tracks.
The aim of setting up the agency is to separate construction and regulation from rail system operations, he added.
The DRT would take charge of investment and regulation, which also involves issuing licences for the use of railway tracks.
Setting up the DRT will also curb the debt burden of the state-owned SRT, as the state enterprise will not have to bear the burden of investing in railway construction any longer, he said.
Pol Gen Wichean said the DRT will hire the SRT to lay railway tracks.
About 1,000 SRT employees who do track installation will stay where they are rather than being transferred to the new department, he said.
Authorities have yet to finalise the structure of the department.
They will have to decide which agency, either the DRT or SRT, should own the land along the country's railway tracks.
However, the process of setting up the department would take a year and a half, Pol Gen Wichean said.
Director-general of the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning Chula Sukmanop said the proposal would reach the Public Sector Development Commission in six months.
Parliamentary approval would then be sought.
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- Writer: Amornrat Mahitthirook