CP inks 3-airport contract
Prayut hails deal as crucial for economy
A Charoen Pokphand Group-led consortium signed a contract with the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) on Thursday to build the high-speed train route linking three major airports, which is expected to boost economic development and create more than 100,000 jobs.
CP Group chief executive officer Suphachai Chearavanont represented the consortium at the signing at Government House, and acting SRT governor Worawut Mala inked the deal on behalf of the SRT.
The 224-billion-baht rail project will connect Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports in Bangkok with U-Tapao airport in Rayong province. The distance is 220 kilometres, with the specification for trains to run up to 250 kilometres per hour.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who was among the government witnesses, said the high-speed train project is crucial as it will increase employment, contribute to the expansion of new towns and boost confidence among foreign investors.
Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the project marks a historic milestone as it will usher in a new era for the country's rail system, and support seamless connectivity.
The high-speed rail route is the country's highest-value mass-transit project and it is expected to create at least 100,000 jobs, he said.
The contract signing also represented cooperation among countries in Asia as it is the first time that Japan and China, which are among the leaders in high-speed train technologies, have co-invested in a megaproject in a third country, Mr Anutin said.
"The project will boost foreign investors' confidence and contribute to development under the EEC [Eastern Economic Corridor] scheme," he said.
Mr Anutin also said the government plans to invest in another two high-speed projects -- a northern route linking Bangkok and Chiang Mai, and a southern route linking Bangkok, Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan and the southern province of Surat Thani.
Yang Jinjun, vice-president of China Railway Construction Corporation which is part of the CP-led consortium, said the project will benefit the tourism sector and attract investors.
Neighbouring Asean countries also stand to gain from the high-speed route and the project will also play a part in spurring economic growth in Asia, he said, adding he was glad that China and Japan have co-invested for the first time in the project.
Mr Suphachai said construction will begin within 12 months or in October of next year, and the link will be operational in late 2025.
He added that the consortium will invest about 140 billion baht to commercially develop land in the Makkasan area.
Owned by the SRT, a 150-rai land plot near the Makkasan Airport Rail Link station will be included in the train project.
The area will be earmarked for property development, and construction of research centres, retail outlets and hotels so as to accommodate businessmen, tourists and commuters who will use the train, Mr Suphachai said.
Loans will be sought from both domestic and foreign financial institutions, including in Japan and China, to finance the project, he said.
Kanit Sangsubhan, EEC Office secretary-general, said his office was discussing with the Stock Exchange of Thailand the possibility of registering the high-speed train project as a SET-listed business to mobilise funds.