Somkid sets 2-week deadline for rail development plan

Somkid sets 2-week deadline for rail development plan

Locals could be asked to pool land on routes

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak (left) has given authorities two weeks to finalise the plan for general development around the high-speed train projects. (File photo)
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak (left) has given authorities two weeks to finalise the plan for general development around the high-speed train projects. (File photo)

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak has told authorities to finalise in two weeks the commercial development plan for potential areas along the four high-speed train lines.

Mr Somkid issued the directive at a meeting to follow up on the plan Monday.

The four rail routes consist of the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima, Bangkok-Hua Hin, Bangkok-Chiang Mai and Bangkok-Rayong sections.

The plan will sum up potential areas for commercial development to create revenue and returns on the investment, Mr Somkid said, adding these issues will be used to work out the terms of reference for the development where private companies will be invited to invest.

"The development will focus on train stations, not all the areas along the rail tracks," said Mr Somkid.

He said most of the land which the rail tracks pass through belongs to the state and officials must consider how to develop it, adding if state authorities are not ready to develop it themselves, private firms can be invited to invest.

Significant progress has been made in the development plan, and officials have been given two weeks to finalise it, he said.

Mr Somkid said Department of Highways (DOH) officials had also proposed their plan for rest stops along the Bangkok-Rayong motorways.

The deputy premier said the rest stops must accommodate shops with outstanding products. The facilities must have locally popular restaurants to attract tourists.

"Motorists driving from Bangkok should not have to go to fast-food restaurants at the rest stops. This will not happen. New concepts must be adopted," said Mr Somkid.

Foreign investors have shown special interest in the high-speed train line from Bangkok to Rayong, and the project must start as quickly as possible, the deputy premier said.

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisit said the Bangkok-Rayong high-speed train project would be presented to the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) committee in coming weeks, adding the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process for the scheme will be concluded this month.

He said approval would be sought from the cabinet to call bidding this year.

The commercial development of the land around train stations, where private businesses will be called to invest, would be undertaken in parallel with the rail project, which should ensure development is not delayed, the minister said.

"The deputy premier has ordered the appraisals of the value of the project and projected returns before the project is opened to investment," said Mr Arkhom.

He said the Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning proposed a land planning concept where locals can pool their land together and put it up for development.

They will work with the state and private sector to ensure maximum benefits are gained from the development, Mr Arkhom said.

Parts of the pooled land have to be set aside for utilities or roads leading to the areas.

Those who win the bid to run the high-speed train route will have the right to develop spaces within stations, while other private firms will be invited to invest in the areas surrounding the stations and they will be developed separately, said Mr Arkhom.

For the Bangkok-Rayong high-speed train project, the minister said the stations with high potential for development include Lat Krabang, Si Racha, Pattaya and Rayong.

Stations on the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima route include ones in Saraburi, Pak Chong and Nakhon Ratchasima.

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