The cabinet over the next few weeks is likely to stay busy approving key big-ticket infrastructure projects, including the signing of a deal on the maintenance, repair and overhaul facility at U-tapao airport between Thai Airways International and partners, including Airbus.
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said the cabinet is also scheduled to approve the piling work of the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway in Nakhon Ratchasima for the 3.5km Klang Dong-Pang Asok section.
The piling work of the 179-billion-baht Sino-Thai high-speed rail network will kick off on Dec 21.
"The government pledges to accelerate the infrastructure development as planned, and the cabinet has a busy schedule to approve many significant infrastructure projects within the final two weeks of the year so that construction can commence during the first quarter of next year," Mr Somkid said.
He said the cabinet has already approved construction of the 3.5km Klang Dong-Pang Asok section worth 425 million baht -- the first part of the 253km Thai-Sino rail network linking Bangkok with Nong Khai in the Northeast.
The Office of Natural Resources and Environment Policy and Planning has also approved the environmental impact assessment for the initial 3.5km stretch of the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway in Nakhon Ratchasima, Mr Somkid said.
"The government is scheduled to start the piling work at Klang Dong station on Dec 21 and has already ordered the Transport Ministry to immediately work out the construction procedures and time frame for the next sections," he said.
The next rail project scheduled for construction is the 11km Pak Chong-Nakhon Ratchasima section, followed by the 119.5km Kaeng Khoi-Nakhon Ratchasima and 119km Kaeng Khoi-Bang Sue sections.
The Transport Ministry reported that China will submit a design for each section on a gradual basis over six months, while the ministry is working out the procurement process and terms of reference.
Mr Somkid said the cabinet at next week's meeting is due to approve the winning contractors for the first phase of the double-track projects, which comprise five routes spanning 702km.
The five first-phase routes are the 10.2-billion-baht Hua Hin-Prachuap Khiri Khan section; the 17.2-billion-baht Prachuap Khiri Khan-Chumphon section; the 29.4-billion-baht Map Kabao-Jira section; the 20-billion-baht Nakhon Pathom-Hua Hin section; and the 24.8-billion-baht Lop Buri-Pak Nam Pho section.
There are 13 contracts for those five projects, 10 of which are for civil works and three for the signalling system installation of the Lop Buri-Pak Nam Pho, Map Kabao-Jira and Nakhon Pathom-Chum Phon routes.
Porametee Vimolsiri, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board, said recently that the second phase of the double-track projects, worth 398 billion baht and covering nine routes running a combined 2,217km, is also scheduled to go before the cabinet for approval later this month or early next year.
The nine routes are from Pak Nam Pho in Nakhon Sawan to Den Chai in Phrae; Jira in Nakhon Ratchasima to Ubon Ratchathani; Khon Kaen-Nong Khai, Chumphon-Surat Thani; Surat Thani-Hat Yai in Songkhla; Den Chai-Chiang Mai; Den Chai-Chiang Rai-Chiang Khong; Ban Phai in Khon Kaen to Nakhon Phanom; and Hat Yai-Padang Besar.
Construction is expected to take four to five years.