Deal signed to set Thai rail standards
The Engineering Institute of Thailand (EIT) on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP) to establish a set of engineering standards for upcoming railway projects countrywide.
The MoU involves the EIT's agreement to distribute copies of the OTP's railway engineering manuals to engineers registered under the institute.
OTP chief Chaiwat Thongkamkoon said the manuals will detail engineering specifications and other basic requirements regarding railway construction and design as Thailand currently lacks set standards for such projects.
"All the upcoming railway projects will eventually have to be designed and constructed for specific use in Thailand," he said.
"Although we have had standards for railways in the past, electric train lines, tram networks and high-speed railways are relatively new to the country."
Mr Chaiwat added that set standards for engineering projects would provide a frame of reference should errors occur in design or construction. According to him, the standards will also need to be applied to railways linking to other countries in Asean.
Around 10 different manuals will be given to the EIT this month for distribution.
The institute's chairman, Thanes Weerasiri, said the manuals will be distributed during the workshops it regularly arranges for engineers.
Mr Thanes said the EIT currently has around 180,000 registered engineers, 60,000 of whom are civil engineers.
"We do not have a specific number for railway engineers at this point, but we can see that Thai engineers are increasingly flocking to our railway-themed seminars whenever we hold them," he said.
"They see the sheer demand for capable engineers to work on the government's railway projects as an opportunity to expand their livelihoods."
According to EIT reports, government railway plans from 2018-2040 have thus far been valued at more than 2.5 trillion baht.
These projects include 10 new electric train lines in Bangkok, the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway from Bangkok to Nong Khai, and the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) high-speed railway set to connect Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-tapao airports.
Rattapoohm Parichatprecha, director of the Centre of Excellence for Road and Railway Innovation, said Thailand currently ranks 5th in Asean's rail infrastructure quality list, after Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
The list, made during the 2017-2018 period, scored Thailand at 2.6 out of a possible 7. It ranked the country as the 72nd best in the world.
"The ranking will shoot up once the new projects are complete, but a set, domestic standard for railway projects is imperative, to ensure consistency and unity," he said.
"We have thus far been relying on foreign parameters for megaprojects."
Mr Chaiwat added that a planned department for railway transport could be established by year-end, after the Council of State approves a draft rail transport bill.