Pitch set for airport rail link
Transport project to serve EEC scheme
The Eastern Economic Corridor Office (EEC Office) is proposing a high-speed railway linking three main airports worth 200 billion baht to the cabinet Tuesday.
The project aims to connect Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-tapao airports to serve the government's much-touted EEC scheme, spanning three provinces -- Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Rayong.
Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the EEC Office, said the government expects the terms of reference (ToR) to be completed this month. A market sounding for future investors is also scheduled for March.
"The government will provide the project detail to investors," he said. "More than 70 companies, both local and foreign, will attend the market sounding."
The railway expansion will largely be built along an existing route operated by the State Railway of Thailand at a length of 260 kilometres. An inner-city train travelling in Bangkok will have a slower speed of 160km per hour, while a rural route can reach a maximum speed of 250km per hour.
This route comprises 10 high-speed stations: Don Mueang, Bang Sue, Makkasan, Suvarnabhumi, Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, Sri Racha, Pattaya, U-tapao and Rayong.
Mr Kanit said the government has a plan to link the double-track railway with three deep-sea ports in the EEC at Map Ta Phut, Laem Chabang and Sattahip, expecting to serve the country's imports and exports.
"The government is looking for success in five main areas -- infrastructure projects, the 10 targeted industries, the tourism sector, innovation and human development in the EEC provinces," he said.
Capt Somnuk Keawmaruang, deputy director of U-tapao Airport Authority, said the Royal Thai Navy also plans to develop eight projects that are related to the EEC scheme.
The main project will be the development of U-tapao airport on 6,500 rai, including the new 3.5km runway, and the phase three terminal expansion.
"The government expects the runway and the terminal will be completed in three years, with U-tapao airport serving more than 250,000 flights per year," he said.
Capt Somnuk said the navy also plans to develop a 700-rai plot at the airport. The government expects its infrastructure investment in U-tapao will be completed by 2023. The airport is projected to serve 15 million passengers in the next five years, 30 million in the next 10 years and 60 million in the next 15 years.
The government also expects to spend 250 billion baht for development under the public-private partnership model.
Capt Somnuk said the defence industry ecosystem has also been included among the targeted industries under the S-curve policy, as the government wants to increase the country's security and reduce the importation of weapons and technology from abroad.
"We aim to conduct R&D for defence locally," he said.