Laos to join high-speed rail talks

Laos to join high-speed rail talks

A high-speed train model is on display at Chiang Rak Noi station to promote the project. (Bangkok Post file photo)
A high-speed train model is on display at Chiang Rak Noi station to promote the project. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Thailand and China will hold talks with Laos about connecting the high-speed train system from Nong Khai to Vientiane.

The move was resolved in a meeting between representatives of the Transport Ministry led by Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith and Chinese counterparts led by Wang Xiaotao, vice-chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission in Beijing during Feb 7-9.

Ministry sources said the meeting decided the Bangkok-Nong Khai high-speed train project should efficiently connect the high-speed network in Laos to the nation’s capital. As a result, China will invite Lao authorities to discuss the connectivity, the sources said.

The three-party discussion will be aimed at ensuring that construction of the high-speed system in the two countries is coordinated and ensuring the two systems link together smoothly. The discussion will include immigration and customs procedures for passengers who travel across the border.

The piling work of the first phase of the Sino-Thai high-speed rail network linking Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima, worth 179 billion baht, kicked off on Dec 21 last year. The initial construction, under the Highways Department, covers 3.5km from Klang Dong-Pang Asok section in Nakhon Ratchasima and is worth 425 million baht.

It is the first section of the 615-km ThaiSino rail network linking Bangkok with Nong Khai in the Northeast. Total investment is valued at 530 billion baht.

Under the joint scheme, Thailand is the project owner and China is responsible for certain engineering works and procuring track systems and equipment.

According to the Beijing meeting, the transport ministry will review the Chinese feasibility study of the second phase of the project, covering Nakhon Ratchasima-Nong Khai, between March and May before seeking cabinet approval in June.

If the cabinet approves the study, it will take about 10 months to design the project and bidding for construction is expected to open in the second quarter of next year, the sources said.

For the development of the BangkokNakhon Ratchasima section, of which the Klang Dong-Pang Asok section has already kicked off, China will submit the design of the 11-km Sikhiu-Kud Jik section in March and bidding for this section is expected to take place in May.

Bidding for Muak Lek in Saraburi- Lam Ta Kong in Nakhon Ratchasima, which will tunnel through a mountain, is expected to be held in June.

The section stretching from Kaeng Khoi in Saraburi to Nakhon Ratchasima is likely to open for bidding in July.

Bidding for the section stretching from Bangkok’s Bang Sue district to Kaeng Khoi is expected to be held in September.

In addition, China has agreed to provide technological transfer to the Thai side in three areas. They are design and civil works, system management and checking, and monitoring and maintenance systems, according to the sources.

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