East-west coastal railway link mulled

East-west coastal railway link mulled

Almost all travel between Chumphon, on the Gulf, and Ranong, on the Andaman Sea, is by bus, passenger van or private transportation. (Graphic via Google Maps)
Almost all travel between Chumphon, on the Gulf, and Ranong, on the Andaman Sea, is by bus, passenger van or private transportation. (Graphic via Google Maps)

A plan for yet another railway development, this time connecting the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, is off to a positive start after authorities agreed to conduct a detailed study on the proposed Chumphon-Ranong route.

An inception report, to be prepared by the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy (OTP) and Planning, was recently approved by authorities to gain a more in-depth look into the viability of the project.

The proposal is for a 125km rail track to upgrade transport and bolster tourism, said inspector-general for transport Chirut Wisanchit.

The rail line, which would link Chumphon on the east coast of Thailand and the deep seaport in Ranong in the Andaman Sea, was unveiled days after the office's deputy chief, Wilairat Sirisophonsin, announced a plan to build an east-west rail network linking Surat Thani and Phangnga in the south.

Mr Chirut has said the study will examine a range of issues, from railway design and an investment plan to the economic and environmental impacts of the project.

The study team will also hold talks with stakeholders to make sure they are informed of the proposed rail track, Mr Chirut said, stressing public consultation must be part of the study.

He said the process would enable officials to learn what the stakeholders think and gather their opinions so the project can be implemented to best suit their needs.

The inspector-general did not touch on any specific benefits that the project will bring to the transport and tourism sectors.

However, he gave assurances this new development would be in line with the government's 20-year national transportation plan, introduced earlier this year.

It also corresponds with the 12th National Economic and Social Development Plan, to be implemented from this year until 2021, he said.

The proposal supports moves to improve transport links both within and between regions as well as encouraging development in the south, he said.

The Chumphon-Ranong route would not only benefit businesses in the region, but also serve as another option for tourists who want to experience attractions on both the eastern and western coasts of Thailand, he added.


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