Work to begin on new high-speed railway
PM to head ceremony to mark project launch
The cabinet has given the go-ahead for the Highways Department to begin building the first 3.5km section of the Thai-Sino high-speed train project stretching from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima.
Construction kicks off tomorrow when Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will preside over the ceremony to initiate the piling work for the 179-billion-baht Sino-Thai high-speed network at tambon Klang Dong, Pak Chong district of Nakhon Ratchasima.
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said the first section stretching from Klang Dong to Pang Asoke will be on flat terrain and the civil work for the railway is similar to that of roads and motorways.
As a result, the cabinet instructed the Highways Department to develop the first section with a budget of 425.94 million baht as proposed by the Transport Ministry.
The construction of the first section will take six months to complete. For the remaining three sections, auctions will be opened to seek contractors.
The second section is an 11km stretch from Sikhiu district to Kud Jik in Sung Noen district. Its construction will begin in August next year and will take 12 months to complete.
The third section is the 119.5km run from Kaeng Khoi of Saraburi to Nakhon Ratchasina. Work will commence in November and last for 30 months.
The construction of the fourth section is from Bang Sue of Bangkok to Kaeng Khoi with a length of 119km, starting in January 2019 and will take 30 months to complete.
Thanin Somboon, director-general of the Highways Department, said he has set up four working groups with a total of 100 officers to oversee construction of the first section.
The working groups will turn the design produced by the Chinese side into practical documents, area surveys, construction material procurement and construction quality control.
The construction of the first section would be used as a model for the remaining three sections, he said.
The Transport Ministry said China will submit a design for each section on a gradual basis over six months, while the ministry is working out the procurement process and terms of reference.
In another development, Mr Arkhom said the cabinet also approved the budget framework for the first phases of five new double-track railways for a total of 95.49 billion baht.
They include the 10.2-billion-baht Hua Hin-Prachuap Khiri Khan line; the 17.2-billion-baht Prachuap Khiri Khan-Chumphon line; the 29.4-billion-baht Map Kabao-Jira line; the 20-billion-baht Nakhon Pathom-Hua Hin line; and the 24.8-billion-baht Lop Buri-Pak Nam Pho line.
The cabinet also decided to allow the State Railway of Thailand to borrow 11.28 billion baht to use as its liquidity. The Finance Ministry will be guarantor of the loan.
SRT is one of the country's most debt-ridden state enterprises. It has accumulated debts of more than 100 billion baht.
The agency plans to set up an asset management company to manage its assets with a target of making 60 billion baht over six years.