SRT considers electric rail to Malaysia

SRT considers electric rail to Malaysia

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) has been asked to consider an electric train project linking Hat Yai to Padang Besar in Songkhla, said the Transport Ministry.

The proposal which was made by the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP), concerns the double-track railway which would connect Hat Yai district and Padang Besar in Sadao district on the border with Malaysia at a cost of 7.9 billion baht, said Peerapol Thawornsuphacharoen, deputy permanent secretary for transport.

If the project is approved by the SRT, it is expected to be forwarded to the Transport Ministry by next month, before being tabled at the cabinet for approval in May, Mr Peerapol said.

It will be a one-metre gauge railway project over a distance of 48 km, he said, adding the project is also part of the Transport Ministry's 2017 action plan. It would be the first electric line under the SRT.

According to Mr Peerapol, the SRT has also asked Japanese officials to conduct a feasibility study into a high-speed train project from Bangkok to the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith will hold talks with his Malaysian counterparts next month to seek cooperation over the project, he said.

"The SRT and Malaysia's authorities need to discuss the framework of the project study, while Japan must say whether it can offer help," said Mr Peerapol.

If an agreement is reached, the feasibility study could start by this year, the deputy permanent secretary said.

It could take more than one year to complete the study given that this is a substantial project with a high investment, he noted.

Referring to the 193.5km high-speed train project from Bangkok to Rayong, Mr Peerapol said the ministry is gathering more information on land development for commercial purposes to make the project more economically viable.

The OTP is expected to forward the 153-billion-baht project to the ministry for consideration by this month, he said.

As for the 211km high-speed train project between Bangkok and Hua Hin, Mr Peerapol said the 95-billion-baht scheme is under consideration by the State Enterprise Policy Office and no decision has been reached.

Meanwhile, SRT deputy governor Thanongsak Pongprasert said bid envelopes for the SRT's procurement of 50 diesel locomotives at a cost of 14.2 billion baht are expected to be sold in the middle of next month.

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