Japan has concluded its study on the Bangkok-Chiang Mai Shinkansen-like bullet train construction, estimating investment costs to be as high as 420 billion baht and fares of just over 1,000 baht a trip.
Japan's State Minister of Transport Takao Makino handed the report to Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith on Thursday for the 670km bullet train running from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, estimating the project's profitability and economic impact on surrounding areas, Nikkei Asian Review reported on its website yesterday.
The plan calls for 12 stations with the whole trip taking about three and a half hours with top speeds reaching 300kph.
Mr Arkhom told reporters that the fare for travelling the entire line from Bangkok to Chiang Mai or vice versa would cost slightly more than 1,000 baht.
The minister said plans for the first phase of the Thai-Japanese high-speed railway project would involve the Bangkok to Phitsanulok stretch and would be submitted to the cabinet for approval by next February.
According to him, the initial 380km route has been costed at 280 billion baht.
He added terms of reference (ToR) for the project will be completed by the end of next year. Auctions for certain sub-contracts of the Bangkok-Phitsanulok route may then begin in 2019, he said.
Construction of the entire Bangkok-Chiang Mai route is estimated to be competed by 2025.
According to the minister, Japan may begin designs for the project after the cabinet approves the investment plans.
"An environmental impact assessment (EIA) has already been conducted on the project's first phase and has gained approval," Mr Arkhom said.
Ticket fares will start at 80 baht, with 1.5-baht-per-kilometre additional rates, according to Mr Arkhom.
"We are glad that this project has started to gain such traction and solidarity," Mr Arkhom said.
"The Japanese representatives have completed their research efficiently."
According to him, Japanese representatives have proposed a government-to-government (G2G) investment plan for the project.
However, he said the Transport Ministry has suggested that investment by Thai private companies should also be allowed, through a public-private-partnership (PPP) scheme with the Thai government.
Stations that are located earlier on the route, such as Bang Sue, Don Muang and Ayutthaya, will be open for the public before the entire railway has been completed, Mr Arkhom added.
In a similar development, construction on the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway's first phase from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima worth 180 billion baht will commence this Thursday.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will preside over a ceremony to mark the commencement of construction.
The initial phase will involve a 3.5km-stretch of railway between Klang Dong and Pang Asok railway stations, both located in Pak Chong district.
Meanwhile, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) board yesterday approved plans for a 215-billion-baht Bangkok-Rayong high-speed railway project, the SRT's acting governor Anont Luangboriboon said.
The project is part of a government initiative to develop infrastructure around Thailand's Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).
Upon its scheduled completion in 2023, the 193km-long route will connect Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airports.
Mr Anont added the board also gave the green light for a development project for 130 rai of land in the Makkasan area.
He said the land will be loaned out to private companies under 50-year concessions by the government.
He said the SRT board's plans will be submitted to concerned parties such as the Ministry of Transport and the Bureau of the Budget next week.