High-speed trains 'will boost the economy'
Prayut upbeat as deal is struck with China
The Thai-Chinese high-speed railway from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima will act as a major spur to the economy, the prime minister said on Wednesday.
Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha presided over a ceremony at Government House to sign a contract worth 50.63 billion baht for the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima section of the route.
Also present were Deputy PM Anutin Charnvirakul, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, Deputy Transport Minister Atirat Ratanasate, acting Chinese Ambassador to Thailand Yang Xin and executives of China Railway International and China Railway Design Corporation.
The contract is for the purchase of railway systems, train carriages and staff training.
Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri later quoted Gen Prayut as saying the high-speed rail route was an important strategic asset that would increase the country's competitiveness and develop cities along it.
It would also help strengthen relations between Thailand and China, Mr Anucha added.
He said that the premier had thanked the Transport Ministry, the State Railway of Thailand, the project's contractors and other stakeholders for their work.
The transport minister said the Thai-Chinese high-speed rail project, expected to be completed in 2025, was in line with the government's 20-year national development plan.
He said it would strengthen the country's future in terms of infrastructure and transport. It would also help equally distribute income and reduce inequality while allowing for knowledge and technological transfer from China, which has expertise in high-speed railways.
Mr Saksayam also felt the project would help develop Thailand as a hub for transport and logistics in Asean, while leading to new trade, investment and tourism opportunities in the areas along the rail route.
SRT governor Nirut Maneephan said the construction of the 3.5km section from Klang Dong to Pang Asoke in Korat had been finished and the section from Sikhiu district to tambon Kut Chik in Sung Noen district was 42% completed.
The 253km route from Bangkok to Korat has six stations: Bang Sue Grand, Don Muang, Ayutthaya, Saraburi, Pak Chong and Nakhon Ratchasima.