High-speed airport rail headed to Rayong
The committee for special economic zone development in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme has approved a 30-kilometre extension of the high-speed railway that will connect three airports to Rayong province, for an estimated 10-billion-baht expenditure.
The 224-billion-baht high-speed railway project will connect Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-tapao airports on a 220km route. The route will end in Chon Buri province.
The government expects to begin the bidding process for the project with 31 firms that bought bidding documents, comprising Thai, Chinese, Japanese and Korean firms.
According to the project's public-private-partnership (PPP) investment plan, foreign firms can hold more than 50% of the stake, but the foreign firm has to be at least 25% Thai-owned.
The government expects to have a winning bidder by 2018.
The committee yesterday approved the route's extension to Rayong.
The panel will propose the extension to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Aug 10, and on his approval will begin a feasibility study.
Kobsak Pootrakool, the Prime Minister's Office minister, said the committee expects to sign a contract with the project's consultant in October and a design is expected to start in November.
"The extension route to Rayong is also under a PPP model, similar to the initial project that links the three airports," Mr Kobsak said. "The government expects this route to begin operations in 2024."
Voravuth Mala, acting governor of the State Railway of Thailand, said the SRT plans to expand the route to Chanthaburi and Trat provinces in the next phase after the route to Rayong is completed.
The SRT also has plans for land development along the high-speed railway set to link Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-tapao airports. Mr Voravuth said 175 rai of land -- 150 rai in Makkasan and 25 in Sri Racha, Chon Buri -- has already been valued at more than 50 billion baht.
Kanit Sangsubhan, the EEC Office secretary-general, said the EEC scheme will see actual investment next year.
He said the investment flow will come from related infrastructure projects from the government and projects from business operators, mainly in the 10 targeted industries under the S-curve policy.
"There is roughly 200,000 rai available for industrial estates, both public and private, to serve demand increases in the three EEC provinces," he said.
Nonetheless, Narit Therdsteerasukdi, deputy secretary-general of the Board of Investment (BoI), said investment applications in 2018 will reach 720 billion baht, surpassing 600 billion baht in 2017.
"Applications in the EEC provinces will hit the target of 300 billion baht in 2018," he said.
The BoI reported that it had approved investment applications for 754 projects in the first six months of this year, up 22% year-on-year, with investment of 284.6 billion baht, equal to last year.
Of the total applications, 316 projects were in the 10 targeted industries, accounting for 46% of total applications worth 224.15 billion baht or 82% of total investment.
This year's EEC applications cover 142 projects worth 183.23 billion baht, up 122% from the same period last year.