3.5km high-speed train construction to please leaders

3.5km high-speed train construction to please leaders

A boy looks at model trains on display at Chiang Rak Noi station in Ayutthaya’s Bang Pa-in district, where a ceremony was held last Dec 19 to mark the start of the Thai-Chinese railway project. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
A boy looks at model trains on display at Chiang Rak Noi station in Ayutthaya’s Bang Pa-in district, where a ceremony was held last Dec 19 to mark the start of the Thai-Chinese railway project. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

A Thai-Chinese high-speed train scheme has entered a strange phase where officials of the two countries agreed on Thursday to kick-start the construction of a short section, although they have not settled on the overall project.

The joint committee on the Thai-Chinese train cooperation picked a 3.5km section in tambon Klang Dong of Nakhon Ratchasima's Pak Chong district to be constructed first, while leaving the entire project to further negotiations.

The construction of the short section could begin in September after a bidding call slated for August, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said. Bidding will be opened to Thai firms and funding could come from domestic sources, he added.

"We will build the short section in line with the aspiration of the leaders of the two countries," said the minister. "Klang Dong station has been selected because there is no land appropriation problem as the land belongs to the State Railway of Thailand."

"The selected area is flat and thus the construction can easily begin," he added.

Klang Dong is one of the six stations planned on the high-speed rail line from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima to be built and funded by Thailand with train technology from China.

The Thai-Chinese train project began last year with high publicity. The government said it would build new tracks for medium-speed trains from Nong Khai to Map Taphut in Rayong and Bangkok. Enthusiam has waned after the two countries failed to settle on several issues including loan conditions offered by China.

After several rounds of negotiations, the Thai government decided in March to replace the project with a 250km high-speed line linking the capital with Nakhon Ratchasima.

The Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima project is estimated at 170 billion baht by the government.

Mr Arkhom co-chaired the meeting on Thursday with Wang Xiaotao, the deputy chief of China's National Development and Reform Commission.


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