Cold water poured on rail projects
Study finds 2 routes 'not worth the cash'
The 101-billion-baht extension of the high-speed train system linking Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and U-Tapao airports may not be worth investing in, the State Railway of Thailand has said, citing findings from a market sounding exercise in a feasibility study on the proposed extension.
The entire study into Phase 2 of the high-speed train project which will stretch 190 kilometres long from U-Tapao to Trat province through Rayong and Chanthaburi will be concluded in August, said Suchip Suksawang, the chief engineer of the SRT's special projects and constructions.
The results of the study will be forwarded to the government's committee on special development of the eastern special area development policy and finally to the cabinet for endorsement, he said.
Representatives of the chamber of commerce of the provinces concerned have pointed out that the government should rethink the investment plan.
They suggested the government take into consideration the fact that demands for the high-speed train service on the planned route extension may not be very high, he said.
The number of passengers may surge only during the high tourism season, he noted.
The SRT also has a plan to construct a new double-track train project between Si Racha in Chon Buri and Map Ta Phut in Rayong, which will require far less investment but will serve not only passengers but also cargo transport, the market sounding exercise was told.
The proposed extension was largely opposed by many participants who were concerned that this option would require a larger amount of funding in the end.
Also in Phase 2, the project will run through 11 districts of Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat and comprise four stations, namely Rayong, Klaeng, Chanthaburi and Trat, said Mr Suchip.
Some potential investors participating the market sounding exercise had also raised concern over the likelihood of the extension facing a long delay due to encroachment on the land to used for the project as well as land expropriation, he said.
Meanwhile, Chaiwat Tongkamkoon, the permanent secretary for transport, said the SRT was expected to be able to hand over land to the CP-led consortium contracted to build the first part of the 224-billion-baht high-speed railway from Suvarnabhumi airport to U-Tapao airport in February next year.