Rail route draft gets SRT nod

Rail route draft gets SRT nod

The board of the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) on Thursday approved a draft on the so-called Contract 2.3 with China to begin the construction of a high-speed train project from Bangkok to the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima.

SRT governor Niruj Maneepun yesterday told the media that Contract 2.3 is worth 50.6 billion baht, which includes funds for the railway system, rolling stocks and staff training.

The approved draft of the contract will be forwarded to the Office of the Attorney-General for vetting before cabinet approval.

The signing of the contract will be carried out in October as planned, Mr Niruj said.

Contract 2.3 is one of seven railway contracts worth a total of 179.4 billion baht for the Bangkok-Nong Khai High-Speed Train Project. Contract 2.3 would cover the project's first phase, which is a 253-kilometre stretch from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima.

Contract 2.3 is considered to be the most important one as it covers the essential railway and operation system.

The construction for the whole project has been ongoing since 2018 and it is expected to finish in 2023.

So far, the SRT has said the project is making progress, noting it is finding contractors to develop all seven phases. It said a few have already agreed and signed some of the contracts.

Mr Niruj admitted minor hurdles delayed contract signing. For instance, the seventh contact is delayed because a contractor is required to conduct an environmental impact assessment (EIA) on the construction of a train station in Ayutthaya, he said.

He said the Fine Arts Department (FAD) objected to construction at the site because of its archaeological value. Mr Niruj said the FAD urged that the station should be built seven kilometres away from the centre of town as its construction might affect historic sites in Ayutthaya.

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