Bangkok-Chiang Mai train to wait on Japanese input
The government expects the 420-billion-baht Bangkok-Chiang Mai bullet train to take a year to begin construction as Japan, which is keen to invest in the project, is likely to demand close engagement in every step of the process.
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said although Japan has concluded its study on the high-speed train project, the country is expected to want a say in the process.
The Transport Ministry earlier proposed that private investment should be allowed in the project through a public-private partnership programme.
Takao Makino, Japan's State Minister of Transport, recently handed a report to Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith for the 670-kilometre bullet train running from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, which estimates investment costs to be as high as 420 billion baht and fares of just over 1,000 baht a trip.
The development plan calls for 12 stations, with the whole trip taking about three-and-a-half hours and top speeds reaching 300kph.
Plans for the first phase of the project, stretching from Bangkok to Phitsanulok, are scheduled to be submitted for cabinet approval by February, says the Transport Ministry.
The initial 380km route is estimated to cost 280 billion baht, while the terms of reference for the project will be completed by the end of next year. Auctions for certain Bangkok-Phitsanulok route contracts may begin in 2019.
Construction of the entire Bangkok-Chiang Mai route is estimated to be completed by 2025.
Mr Somkid said Thailand and Japan are also committed to continuing joint investment in other projects, noting the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) has already started conducting a feasibility study on the East-West corridor railroad linking Mae Sot in Tak to Mukdahan.
He said JBIC also sent a team to conduct a feasibility study on smart city development in Chachoengsao, a part of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), which is designated to be developed as residential areas.
In a related development, Mr Somkid yesterday met with Japanese government representatives and businessmen, said JC Service Co intends to invest in generating electricity from rubber trees.
JC Service Co provides total resource-saving systems, solar infrastructure, and disaster-preventive smart community operations services. The company was founded in 2003 and is based in Osaka.