Fast train linking 3 airports awaits bids

Fast train linking 3 airports awaits bids

The study of a high-speed train linking Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports with U-tapao is complete. APICHART JINAKUL
The study of a high-speed train linking Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports with U-tapao is complete. APICHART JINAKUL

The latest feasibility study on building a high-speed train to link the three airports of Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-tapao in nearby Rayong province has been completed. The 280-billion-baht project is due to open for bidding later this year or in early 2018.

Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Office, said the project will be operated under the public-private partnership (PPP) model, with private firms investing 200 billion baht to build the train and other infrastructure.

The government's contribution of 80 billion baht will focus on the Makkasan terminal and other facilities in adjacent areas of Bangkok, he said.

"We expect to finish the terms of reference soon, so the project should be open for auction to private companies by late this year or early next year," Mr Kanit said after an EEC Office meeting chaired by Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana.

Mr Kanit said transport fees are expected to range from 300 baht to 500 baht per trip.

He said the EEC Office acknowledged the plan's inclusion of a maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) centre near U-tapao airport, which requires more space for development because several foreign companies in the aviation industry have expressed interest in investing there.

The EEC is a flagship special economic zone designed to gather next-generation industries with digitised modern technologies. The project covers 30,000 rai in the eastern provinces of Rayong, Chonburi and Chachoengsao.

These are due to play home to new cities with designated industrial estates, educational institutes, financial districts and new residential areas.

Previously, Airbus said it wanted the facility to serve not just as a heavy maintenance centre, but also a light maintenance centre and training ground.

But other foreign aviation firms such as Boeing, SAAB and Mitsubishi, as well as other Japanese and Korean firms in the aviation space, are approaching the area, which is causing the EEC Office to rethink and expand the U-tapao MRO centre.

Previously, the MRO facility was designed to cover 300 rai near U-tapao Rayong-Pattaya Airport, its official name. The government has set aside 500 rai to build an aviation hub for investment in MRO and other aviation-related businesses.

Mr Kanit said the bigger MRO centre should generate revenue in excess of 3.5 billion baht a year for the country and also facilitate technology transfers to promote Thailand as an aviation hub for Asean.

He said the EEC Committee is also fast-tracking the legislative process for other business regulations under the EEC Act.

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