The Transport Ministry will seek approval from the cabinet in October for the construction of a 355-kilometre Ban Phai-Mukdahan-Nakhon Phanom railway line worth 65.7 billion baht.
Sorapong Paitoonphong, deputy spokesman for transport, said on Saturday the dual-track rail line was approved by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) board.
The board is in the process of submitting the project to the ministry for consideration before tabling the issue in the cabinet meeting in October.
Once it has been approved by the cabinet, land expropriation will be implemented in order to begin construction next year. The project is expected to be completed and start official operations in 2024.
The SRT is also working on the environmental impact assessment, which will be forwarded to the ministry in the middle of next month, he said.
Mr Sorapong said the ministry had also instructed the SRT to conduct further studies on the railway project on three issues: budget for land expropriation and proper areas which will be reclaimed; revenue of the project which must be parallel to the high-speed train projects; and development of the Treasury Department's land along the railway route for commercial purposes.
To avoid flooding, the SRT was also commissioned to study the construction of the railway route so it does not block water flow, while a plan to cope with flooding in the future was also devised as a preventive measure. Elevated rail routes will also be built in some sections of the project to cope with floods, Mr Sorapong said.
According to the ministry, the dual-track railway route will comprise 32 stations, three freight stations, 81 overpasses and 245 underpasses. Barriers will lie along both sides of the railway route.
The railway will cut through northeastern provinces including Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakham, Mukdahan and Sakon Nakhon.
The train is expected to accommodate around 12,300 passengers per day in 2023 and almost 30,000 passengers per day by 2053.