High-speed rail routes chosen for PPP fast track

High-speed rail routes chosen for PPP fast track

A security guard watches over the Purple Line electric train, which is undergoing test runs before operating commercially in August. CHANAT KATANYU
A security guard watches over the Purple Line electric train, which is undergoing test runs before operating commercially in August. CHANAT KATANYU

Two high-speed rail projects, the 193.5-kilometre Bangkok-Rayong route worth 153 billion baht and the 211km Bangkok-Hua Hin route worth 94.7 billion, are set to be included for fast track consideration in the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme.

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said the two were likely to be submitted for approval by the PPP committee by this month or next. If approved, they will be the sixth and seventh such projects.

Last November the government put five projects worth a combined 334 billion baht on the front burner under the PPP scheme, giving them a mandate to start in the second half this year.

They comprise three mass-transit routes in Bangkok: the Pink Line from Khae Rai to Min Buri, the Yellow Line from Lat Phrao to Samrong, and the Blue Line extension from Hua Lamphong to Bang Kae and Bang Sue to Tha Phra. The routes were worth a combined 194 billion baht, while two interprovincial motorways were worth 140 billion.

The two motorways will link Ayutthaya's Bang Pa-in district with Nakhon Ratchasima and Nonthaburi's Bang Yai district with Kanchanaburi.

The 1.435 metre-gauge high-speed rail linking Bangkok and Rayong is part of the government's Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) development plan that aims to build up Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao as locations for a high-technology industry cluster.

The cabinet is scheduled to consider the law governing special economic zones for EEC development over the next two weeks.

Mr Arkhom said the Bangkok-Rayong route is conducting an environmental impact assessment (EIA), while the Bangkok-Hua-Hin route's EIA is completed and pending approval by the National Environment Board.

The government aims to kick-start the construction of 20 megaprojects valued at 1.6 trillion baht this year as part of a plan to stimulate the economy.

The cabinet already approved 11 projects worth 460 billion baht that are expected to be completed by 2022. The proportion of private investment accounted for 25% of total investment. Eight projects are under construction.

He said the proportion of private investment in the infrastructure projects was likely to increase to 30% once the cabinet approved the two high-speed rail projects in the PPP fast-track scheme.

BTS Group chairman Keeree Kanjanapas urged the government to be more generous in wooing private investment, citing infrastructure projects as requiring massive investment with a long wait to receive a return.

He lauded the PPP scheme for allowing the private sector to play a greater role in infrastructure projects, which will reduce the government's financial burden.

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