Provincial rail projects receive priority
The government has vowed to ramp up infrastructure projects in various regions this year to drive social and economic development throughout the country.
According to government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, related agencies have been instructed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to accelerate infrastructure projects to upgrade social and economic development in the provinces, increase the country's logistics competitiveness, and raise local people's income.
A total of 81.5 kilometres of rail infrastructure projects in six provinces are expected to get off the ground within the next few years, including light rail development in Khon Kaen, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Hat Yai and Phitsanulok.
According to Mr Thanakorn, the first phase of the Khon Kaen Light Rail Transit project (Samran-Tha Phra), at 26km in length, appears to have made the most progress.
Local organisations and the Khon Kaen Transit System Co (KKTS), a company set up and registered by five municipalities in Khon Kaen to operate the train project, signed a memorandum of understanding with the CKKM-CRRC Consortium on Nov 16 to handle the construction.
KKTS is expected to deliver construction areas to the consortium led by transport vehicle engineering company Cho Thavee Plc within one year.
Phuket's 42km light rail project, running from Tha Noon in Phangnga province to the Chalong intersection in southern Phuket, is conducting environmental impact assessment (EIA) and public-private partnership (PPP) studies. The project aims to be operational by 2028.
According to Mr Thanakorn, the Mass Rapid Transit Authority is designing and implementing a PPP scheme for the 15.7km Red Line (Airport-Chiang Mai University-International Convention Centre) for Chiang Mai's light rail.
The project is projected to be proposed to the cabinet in 2023 and start construction in 2024, with the start of operations likely by 2028, he said.
The Chiang Mai light rail development project comprises three routes, with a total length of 40.6km. The Red Line is the first slated for construction.
The 11.1km Blue Line is projected to run from Chiang Mai Zoo in the western portion of the city to Don Chan district in the south, while the Green Line spans 13.8km and runs from the city's northeast area south to Chiang Mai airport.
Three other light rail projects in Nakhon Ratchasima, Phitsanulok and Hat Yai are awaiting EIA and PPP studies.
According to Mr Thanakorn, two high-speed rail projects with a combined 473km in length and a value of 404 billion baht are now under construction. They are the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima high-speed railway (253km) and the high-speed railway linking three airports (220km).
One project awaiting cabinet approval is a 355km high-speed rail line worth 252 billion baht linking Nakhon Ratchasima and Nong Khai.
He said Bangkok has two mass transit projects scheduled to start operation this year: the Pink Line and the Yellow Line. Construction of the Khae Rai-Min Buri section of the 34.5km Pink Line is 82% complete, while the 30.3km monorail Yellow Line (Lat Phrao-Samrong) is at 88% completion as of November last year, said Mr Thanakorn.
Other mass transit projects under construction include the 22.5km Orange Line eastern section (Thailand Cultural Centre-Min Buri), which is 87% complete, he said.
Construction is projected to finish this year, while the 35.9km western Orange Line section spanning from Bang Khun Non to Min Buri is due to open bids for construction next year, said Mr Thanakorn. Both lines are scheduled to kick off in late 2024 or early 2025.
Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow said the government vows to implement 100 infrastructure projects worth 2 trillion baht in 2022, particularly those in the Eastern Economic Corridor, after investing in 160 development projects worth 1.5 trillion baht over the past six years.