Transport minister hurries up rail bids
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said on Monday he wants the bidding for the two remaining contracts of the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway that will link Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima to be completed by December.
The first auction is the 6.1-billion-baht project to build a train maintenance depot centre at Chiang Rak Noi in Pathum Thani.
The bidding for the depot will begin this month as the scheme is behind schedule and all related documents are now ready, said Mr Saksayam.
The second auction is for the 10-billion-baht contract to lay the rail tracks between Bang Sue and Don Muang in Bangkok.
However, Mr Saksayam said that the ministry needs to talk with the Charoen Pokphand Group-led consortium before setting a date.
The CP-led group was awarded a contract to build a high-speed railway connecting Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airports.
The Bang Sue-Don Muang section is to be shared by two projects, however.
"We want to ask CP Group to pay for the construction of the joint section in advance," Mr Saksayam said.
The State Railway of Thailand, which is overseeing the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima rail line, will "pay back the money later", he promised.
The minister said he expects the SRT will eventually strike a deal with CP and the bidding for the Bang Sue-Don Muang section is unlikely to be postponed.
There are a total of 14 contracts involved in the 179-billion-baht construction of the 253-kilometre rail route from the capital to Nakhon Ratchasima in the Northeast.
According to the SRT, construction work has already begun and it is currently considering bids for five contracts while also calling for bids for five more.
Meanwhile, Thai and Chinese authorities want to the SRT to work with the Council of State, the government's legal advisory body, to draft a royal decree on land expropriation, which will cover 2,800 rai at a cost of 13 billion baht.