State insists airport rail link be ready in 4 years

State insists airport rail link be ready in 4 years

The government has insisted that the high-speed rail linking Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-tapao airports, one of the key infrastructure projects in the flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), has to be finished over the next four years as planned.

Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the Eastern Economic Corridor Office, said the high-speed rail linking the three airports which started construction in late 2020 has worked as planned, with the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) having already delivered 98.11% of land to Asia Era One (AERA1).

AERA1, formerly known as Eastern High-Speed Rail Linking Three Airports Co, is the CP-led consortium that won the bid to build a high-speed rail linking three airports.

The remaining 1.89% of the land is scheduled to be delivered by January next year, he said.

According to Mr Kanit, once 100% of the land has been delivered to AERA1, SRT will issue a notice to proceed to the company which is likely by March 2022.

Following the notice, he said AERA1 needs to secure loans from financial institutes to support the construction within 240 days, but it has yet to reach that stage yet.

"We're wondering why there is an inaccurate report by local media that AERA1 is now in financial trouble because commercial banks are reluctant to lend to the company," said Mr Kanit.

Mr Kanit said he expected the stage of borrowings by the company will occur by November 2022 when the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to ease up, adding AERA1 needs to borrow at least 100 billion baht to fund the construction of the high-speed rail linking three airports.

According to Mr Kanit, the company has submitted a request to the committee that supervises the construction in May to postpone for three months payment of 10.7 billion baht for the operation transfer to the SRT, citing revenue from the Airport Rail Link (ARL) services over which AERA1 will take on Oct 25 is unlikely to meet the target because of the government's strict lockdown measures to contain the virus.

ARL services are currently operated by SRT Electric Train Co, under the State of Railway of Thailand.

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