A new organisation independent of the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) will be set up to oversee and manage the high-speed rail project, says the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning.
"The new project requires different technologies and management skills from what the SRT has now," said director-general Chula Sukmanop.
"The project should be run and handled by a new, independent organisation."
He said the project also calls for high safety standards and punctuality.
"Management is one of the key topics being studied by the Transport Ministry for the planned four high-speed train lines linking Bangkok with Chiang Mai, Nong Khai, Rayong and Padang Besar," Mr Chula said.
He said the government still has enough time to prepare human resources and training, as the first phase of the four projects will likely not start until 2018-19.
Bidding for the new technology is expected to be opened by this year's third quarter.
Mr Chula said the office is conducting feasibility studies of the Chiang Mai, Nong Khai and Padang Besar lines.
The study of the 745-kilometre Chiang Mai line is expected to be completed over the next 2-3 months, followed by the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima section of the Nong Khai line and the Bangkok-Hua Hin section of the southbound line.
The Bangkok-Phitsanulok section of the northbound line is expected to be the first to begin construction.
It is due to be completed by 2018-19, with the entire route to Chiang Mai completed by 2021.
The northbound route will have 12 stations: Bang Sue, Ayutthaya Central, Ban Phachi in Ayutthaya, Lop Buri, Nakhon Sawan, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Uttaradit, Den Chai in Phrae, Lampang, Lamphun and Chiang Mai.
The standard journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai will take 3.2 hours, while the express service, stopping at only four stations, will take only 2.4 hours.
The first public hearing will be held in Ayutthaya on Wednesday and later in the other provinces that the high-speed trains are expected to stop in.
The Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima route is 168 km and has an extension to Nong Khai, taking it to 356 km.
The train will stop at Ayutthaya Central, Saraburi, Nakhon Ratchasima Central, Bua Yai in Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani and Nong Khai.
Mr Chula said the government plans to call bidding early next year for civil work on the four lines.
No later than November, interested international train suppliers will be invited to present their technology.
The government will likely pick only one system for all four routes.
Under current estimates, the high-speed trains will cost 2.50 baht per km to operate.
About the author
- Writer: Chatrudee Theparat
Position: Business Reporter