Full steam ahead for high-speed trains

Full steam ahead for high-speed trains

The Fuxing Hao CR300 train made by China's CRRC, which will run between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima. (Photo: State Railway of Thailand)
The Fuxing Hao CR300 train made by China's CRRC, which will run between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima. (Photo: State Railway of Thailand)

High-speed train projects are an important element in Thailand's ambition to become an Indochina logistics hub with the development of the country's rail transport system being a key priority in the government's 20-year development strategic plan (2018–2037).

In recent years, several new rail transport development projects have been rolled out including electric train projects in Bangkok and the surrounding provinces, the first phase of a Thai-Chinese high-speed train project, and a high-speed train project linking up Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airports.

Responding to the government's rail transport development policy, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) has aimed to implement a high-speed train project across the country, in the North, East, Northeast and South.

The northern high-speed train line will stretch from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, while the eastern line will connect Bangkok with Rayong. The northeastern line will run from Bangkok to Nong Khai and the southern line from Bangkok to Padang Besar.

These projects are estimated to have a total combined length of 2,700 kilometres, 1,207km of which are being implemented in the first stage (considered urgent), another 702km in the medium-term and the other 791km in the long term, said the SRT.

"This high-speed train network will not only connect parts of Thailand but also serve as a rail link in Asean," said the SRT.

Of all four projects, a highlight is the Thai-Chinese high-speed train project, which is split into two phases for implementation, following the signing of an agreement on the project between the Thai and Chinese governments on May 12, 2016, in Beijing.

The project's first phase deals with the construction of a high-speed train system from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima, while the second phase will continue from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai, bordering neighbouring Laos.

The first phase will cost 179.41 billion baht in a budget invested by the Thai side. The railway, stretching 250km from Bang Sue in Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima and comprising six stations, is expected to open in 2026.

Six Fuxing Hao CR300 trains will run on this route. Each train consists of eight carriages which altogether have 594 seats -- 96 first-class seats and 498 standard class seats. The maximum travelling time from the first to the last station is one and a half hours as each train leaves 90 minutes apart, from 6am until 12pm every day. The fare will range from 105 baht to 535 baht.

The second phase of the Thai-Chinese high-speed train project, to stretch 357km from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai, will allow a connection from travelling from Thailand to Laos and then from Laos to China's Kunming.

Having already passed an environmental impact assessment, the second phase is expected to be completed about three to four years after the first phase, or between 2029 and 2030.

"When all four high-speed train projects are fully built and connected, they will serve as a link of a huge network of rail transport of both passengers and cargo between China and Malaysia via Laos and Thailand," said the SRT.

The eastern high-speed train route will also provide a connection to both Map Ta Phut port and Thailand's three major airports.


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