Auction for train contracts in April
Auctions for contracts to build a high-speed train project that is set to link Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airports will take place in April, said Deputy Transport Minister Pailin Chuchottaworn.
He made the remarks Tuesday, one day after the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) committee approved the project.
The Transport Ministry said earlier the auctions would start next month. However, Mr Pailin said the terms of reference (ToR) for the project were still under way, pushing the auctions into April.
"The details are about 90% complete," he said. "But as the project is so large we think the auction will take four months to complete."
The train project, owned by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), has been valued at 200 billion baht. Reports claim it will reach a top speed of around 250km per hour.
The project will extend the 29km Airport Rail Link which serves commuters from Phaya Thai in central Bangkok to Suvarnabhumi Airport in Samut Prakan.
The work will include a 21km route from Don Mueang Airport to Phaya Thai, and a 170km route from Suvarnabhumi Airport to U-Tapao Airport in Rayong. Experts expect the airport links will yield an economic return of 700 billion baht.
New stations will include Don Mueang, Bang Sue and Phaya Thai.
The longer Suvarnabhumi side will have five additional stations: Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, Si Racha, Pattaya and U-Tapao.
Upon completion, the route will cover a total distance of 220km. The commute from Bangkok to U-Tapao will take 45 minutes, according to reports issued by the SRT.
Mr Pailin said the winning bidder be named by August and their name submitted to the cabinet for approval. Cabinet approval and official contract signings are expected to be wrapped up by December.
A EEC bill approved by the National Legislative Assembly earlier this month would allow foreign companies to own more than 49% of the project, meaning they could become major shareholders.
"International bidding will surely prompt several suitors who have the technology to produce high-speed railways to join, as they will be able to own up to 100% of the project under the bill," Mr Pailin said. "But we expect it will be a joint effort as the high cost of the project is unlikely to be covered by a single investor."