Khon Kaen will roll out a trial of a new light rail network in the middle of the year, says government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul.
Writing on her Facebook account, she said the light rail prototype had been on display at the Isan Creative Festival 2022 close to Khon Kaen Wittayayon School in Muang district from Feb 25 until yesterday.
The 26-kilometre track will run from Samran in the northern part of Khon Kaen city to Tha Phra station in the south and connect with Khon Kaen city's other main rail routes by 2025, Ms Traisuree said.
The Khon Kaen LRT project was funded by the Administration and Capital Management Unit for Enhancing the Competitiveness of the Country (AEC) of the Office of National Higher Education Science Research and Innovation Policy Council.
AEC offered a three-year 100-million-baht budget to support a research team from Rajamangala University of Technology Isan Khon Kaen Campus (RMUTI-KKC) and Cho Thavee Plc, a leading engineer integrator in Khon Kaen.
The manufacturing of prototype parts -- overseen by Paiwan Kerdtuad who is a lecturer of Faculty of Engineering at RMUTI-KKC -- includes bogies, car bodies, traction motors, traction inverters, cooling systems, pantograph auxiliary power units, fasteners and a cushion sleeper.
"This light rail prototype is the first such network developed by Thais. We are very proud of the project," said Theerasak Theekayuphan, mayor of Khon Kaen municipality.
Mr Theerasak said an environmental impact assessment is now being carried out by officials from the Khon Kaen Transit System Co (KKTS), a company set up and registered to operate the system.
The pilot will take in the stretch around Bueng Kaen Nakhon Lake later in the year, Mr Theerasak said.
In 2015, Khon Kaen's mayor proposed integrating the Khon Kaen LRT project into its Smart City scheme.
The rail network will also support the country's high-speed rail project, linking Nong Khai and Bangkok, as well as the dual-track rail network linking Khon Kaen and Nakhon Ratchasima.