Ayutthaya 'ripe for rail development'

Ayutthaya 'ripe for rail development'

Transport Ministry has earmarked Ayutthaya as a cornerstone in its "Transit-Oriented Development" (TOD) scheme.

The TOD integrates public transport, especially train systems, into town planning to promote better land use and push economic and social development.

Ayutthaya railway station and a surrounding 206-rai plot were being studied for the TOD since they can accommodate high-speed train lines linking Bangkok with the North and with Nakhon Ratchasima in the Northeast, Roengsak Thongsom, of the ministry's Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP), said.

The TOD development area is divided into four zones: mixed-use complex, mixed-use community, residential cluster and potential education campus, and extended township development.

The scheme hands responsibility for land management and utilities (water, electricity, etc) to the government, while investment in transport systems and commercial development comes via public-private partnerships (PPP) to reduce financial burdens on the state.

According to Mr Roengsak, the TOD plan is likely to spur investments in low-rise condominium projects, especially after the high-speed rail systems are completed. The area also has potential for development as a Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions) destination.

However, he said the government must come up with a clear investment framework and legal tools to support the development scheme. Involvement of other stakeholders including local communities is also required.

A Transport Ministry source estimated that Ayutthaya's TOD project will cost at least 10 billion baht as the scheme is expected to include shopping malls, retail stores, hotels and an international conference centre.

The OTP has chosen Ayutthaya, Khon Kaen's Muang district and Chon Buri's Pattaya as prototype cities for the TOD plan.

Khon Kaen was selected because it will serve as a node in the high-speed train line and a double-track route in the Northeast. Pattaya, meanwhile, is close to the high-speed system that will link the three airports of U-Tapao, Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang.

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