Locals want high-speed rail crossing plan revised

Locals want high-speed rail crossing plan revised

More than 300 residents in Saraburi's Nong Saeng district are protesting a plan to construct a level crossing for the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway near their community.

They cite concerns over increased flood risk, traffic obstruction and the construction's impact on the area's landscape. The protesters, who live by Nong Saeng district market, want the plan for the level crossing revised, urging the government to build a rail overpass instead.

They submitted a petition, received by secretary to the Transport Minister Suksomruay Wantaneeyakul, during a discussion about the plan on Saturday. It was attended by the engineering team from the project, other local administrative officials and the governor.

One resident said the community was not briefed about plans to build the level crossing, nor had the government asked them for their views.

While the district won't economically benefit from the high-speed train project, as there won't be any station built in the area, the level crossing will heighten the area's flood risk, he said.

It will also run through a local commuter route and obstruct the area's view from the market, he said.

Chanthra Saeng-athit, 72, another resident, said the level crossing will separate her community from the district's government centre, which will make it more difficult for her to collect her monthly allowances.

After receiving the petition, she said construction of the railway in Nong Saeng will have to be suspended until a deal can be reached.

The high-speed railway is a megaproject to link Bangkok to Nong Khai and connect with Laos' railway under the Laos-China high-speed project. The first phase between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima has already fallen behind schedule, a source at the Transport Ministry recently said.

He said the work is only about 15% completed but due to its schedule, it should have been about 37% finished. The protest of the villagers will keep slowing down the project, he added.

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