Rail link to all regions 'by 2028'
The government has set its sight on building rail connections to all regions by 2028, which will position the country strategically as the transport and logistical hub of Asean, according to the Transport Ministry.
Railways are being developed as the main mode of cargo and passenger transport with the private sector being offered roles in delivering rail services, said deputy transport permanent secretary Pisak Jitviriyawasin during his keynote speech at the "Thailand's Rail Developments" forum in Bangkok on Thursday.
The private investment in the rail services would cater to the best interest of the people and provide economic returns on the rail projects.
Railways currently cover 47 provinces, spanning a total of 4,044 kilometres. However, there remains room for improvement as the rail system involves mostly single tracks which limit transport efficiency.
Projects are underway to build dual tracks and high-speed train links. Mr Pisak said in two years, five dual-track routes will be up and running and together they cover more than 700km.
"The expansion of the rail system will see wealth and prosperity spreading out to the provinces," he added.
Two high-speed train projects -- one connecting Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima and the other connecting Suvarnabhumi with Don Mueang and U-Tapao airports -- are currently proceeding. Six other high-speed train projects are being studied.
When all projects are completed, the high-speed rail routes will run a combined length of 2,466km.
In Bangkok and surrounding areas, 14 electric rail routes covering 553km will drastically ease traffic congestion. The last electric train project is due for completion in 2027.
"Train travels and rail cargo distribution is a way forward in future transport that is fast, convenient, safe and environmentally friendly," Mr Pisak said.
He said the Transport Ministry prioritises rail transport which will reach all regions of the country by 2028. The upgrading of the country's railways is being implemented under its 20-year national strategy.
"It is an investment that is essential in creating a long-term security in the country's transport infrastructure."