Trat: Residents want the government to extend the high-speed rail route that will link Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airports through their province.
Trat governor, Wichian Limwangyu said the province has good potential in terms of both border trade and tourism, given its various natural tourist attractions and its shared border with Cambodia.
He was speaking at a hearing held on Tuesday in Trat by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) to gauge public opinion on a proposed second phase of the rail route that would see it extended from U-Tapao airport in Rayong to Trat through Chanthaburi.
Such a link to Trat will will help boost the province's economic development, said the governor, adding that Trat already has in place a special economic zone project that is expected to increase economic growth.
However, Suchip Suksawang, the SRT's chief engineer on special projects and constructions said the proposed Phase 2 has been rated in a feasibility study at only 5.3% in economic worthiness, when the minimum requirement to to press ahead would be 12%.
The only way to make the project happen would be for the SRT to push hard to win special approval by the government, which means the government will have to jointly invest with a private investor, he said.
More than 300 Trat residents attended Tuesday's public hearing, many of whom said they were unhappy to hear an extension to their province was not worth investing in.
They said they wanted the government to press ahead with the project.
Phase 2 of the high-speed rail project is designed to stretch another 190 kilometres from Rayong, through Chanthaburi to Trat.
If built, travel time from U-Tapao to Trat would only take 64 minutes, while it would be 110 minutes from Dong Mueang airport to Trat, Mr Suchip said.
It will be more economically feasible to only extend the high-speed rail route to Muang and Klaeng districts of Rayong and let passengers from Chanthaburi and Trat travel by road to the terminus, he said.
Another 30 billion baht is needed if it is extended to Chanthaburi and projected passenger numbers do not make this worth investing in, he said.