Thai-Chinese rail link gains steam

Thai-Chinese rail link gains steam

Latest contract to be inked next month

The government expects to sign 'Contract 2.3', worth more than 50 billion baht, of the Thai-Chinese high-speed rail project linking Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima early next month, said Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob on Monday.

The signing is likely to proceed at the 28th meeting of the Thai-Chinese joint committee (JC) on rail cooperation early next month.

Mr Saksayam said Ning Jizhe, vice-chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission, who will attend the meeting, has asked that the JC meeting be held after Chinese New Year on Jan 25.

Contract 2.3, worth 50.6 billion baht, involves the cost of purchasing track, electricity systems and machinery, as well as procurement of train carriages and training.

The transport minister said yesterday China has agreed to a major condition of the contract pertaining to the use of US dollars to pay for 80% of the project with the remainder paid in baht.

The agreement was conveyed in a letter to the government through China's state-owned CRRC Corporation Limited.

The contract will cover the average exchange rate involving US dollars based on the daily exchange rates within the period from the contract proposal submission to the day of the contract signing.

A source at the ministry said the average rate is expected to be 30.82 baht to the dollar.

Mr Saksayam said the 28th JC meeting will follow up on the progress of the high-speed rail project and the conditions which the working teams have struck.

If the Office of the Attorney-General gives the signing the green light, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) will forward the contract to its board and later to the cabinet for approval before the signing takes place.

Early last month, the SRT said it will call bids for rail construction projects worth more than 200 billion baht, including high-speed train and double-track rail projects, this year.

Acting SRT governor Worawut Mala said the SRT will speed up the bidding for the remaining five contracts for the Thai-Chinese high-speed rail project in the first and second quarters of next year. There are a total of 14 contracts involved in the the 179-billion-baht, 253-kilometre rail route from the capital to Nakhon Ratchasima in the Northeast.

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