Rail consortium 'set to ink deal'
The Charoen Pokphand (CP)-led consortium will sign the contract to build a 224-billion-baht high-speed railway linking three airports on Oct 25, a source at the Transport Ministry said on Friday.
The deadline for the contract signing was earlier extended for 10 days to Oct 25 by Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, after all members of the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) board stepped down on Oct 1.
It is believed that the delay in signing stems from the bid winners' concerns over land expropriation and eviction problems surrounding the project. The consortium comprises CP, Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc, China Railway Construction Corporation, Ch Karnchang Plc and Italian-Thai Development Plc.
According to the source, the CP-led consortium has accepted the project's conditions as stipulated in the Request for Proposal (RFP) and will sign on the deadline.
The group expects the government to strictly adhere to the time frame for handing over the land.
Under the RFP, the SRT is required to hand over 10,000 rai of land to the consortium within two years of the issuance of the land appropriation decree and send a "Notice to Proceed" within one year of the contract signing.
In case of a delay in the land handover, the consortium is allowed to seek an extension of the construction deadline but is not eligible to claim financial compensation caused by the delay.
The SRT will pay 117 billion baht for construction costs once the high-speed train system is operational.
It will also grant the consortium a 50-year licence to commercialise land at stations and under the rail route, in return for a payment of 50 billion baht.
The high-speed railway linking Bangkok's Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports with U-Tapao airport in Rayong is scheduled to be launched commercially in 2024 as part of plans to develop the government's flagship Eastern Economic Corridor high-tech investment hub scheme.
The Transport Ministry had earlier warned that missing the signing deadline would put the consortium at risk of being blacklisted and deprived of the right to enter bidding for future state contracts.