CP Group, SRT signing of train contract again deferred

CP Group, SRT signing of train contract again deferred

An artist's impression of the high-speed train for the track to be built by the Charoen Pokphand consortium connecting Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and U-tapao airports. (Photo from Charoen Pokphand Group)
An artist's impression of the high-speed train for the track to be built by the Charoen Pokphand consortium connecting Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and U-tapao airports. (Photo from Charoen Pokphand Group)

The signing of a 224 billion baht contract between the State Railway of Thailand and Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group faces another delay following the resignation of the entire SRT board only two weeks before the scheduled closure.

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said on Monday the Transport Ministry had decided to defer the the signing of the contract from Oct 15 to Oct 25 after the SRT board members all stepped down last week, on Oct 1.

The ministry needs the new SRT board to be in place first, to avoid the possibility of the contract being invalidated if they ink the agreement in its absence, he said.

The SRT is impatient for the consortium to sign the contract for construction of the high-speed train which will link Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and U-tapao airports, after repeated delays. The CP consortium won the project with a 224-billion-baht bid in December last year. The government had threatened to put the entire group on a black list if it failed to meet the Oct 15 ultimatum.

The delays are due to concerns by the bid winners over land expropriation and eviction problems. 

The consortium's latest move reportedly was a request for the government to share the risk in the project. The ministry and SRT have denied there is a land issue, and rejected a sharing scheme.

The SRT board's resignation enforced yet another delay and came as a surprise to the transport minister. Board members had meet on Sept 27, and had given no indication they would all resign four days later.

A new board needs approval by the cabinet. The minister appeared confident it would be formed before Oct 25.

"We have to strictly follow legal procedures. If there is no SRT board, we cannot forward the signed contract to the cabinet," Mr Saksayam said.



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