SARABURI: The government has planned to partially open the Map Kabao-Jira Junction double-track railway line next year, which will allow passenger trains to run up to 120km per hour, faster than the present speed of 50km/h.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday visited the construction site at the rail tunnel at Ban Hin Lab Station in Saraburi's Muak Lek district. During the visit, he received a briefing about construction progress from State Railway of Thailand (SRT) governor Nirut Maneephan.
Gen Prayut thanked the SRT and related parties for the project's success in following the government's development policy on improving logistics and railway systems nationwide to increase the country's capacity.
According to deputy spokeswoman Traisuree Traisaranakul, the tunnel at Ban Hin Lab is the first of three constructed on the Map Kabao-Jira Junction section of the northeastern line, linking Saraburi with Nakhon Ratchasima.
The 5.85-kilometre-long Ban Hin Lab tunnel is the country's longest tunnel. It is 7.5 metres wide and 7 metres high.
High-level security and safety measures have also been built into the tunnel, including passenger evacuation compartments at every 500 metres inside it.
The tunnel is now 98.13% complete and is expected to be partially operational by next year.
The other two tunnels were a 650-metre tunnel constructed between the Ban Hin Lab and Muak Lek Mai Stations in Saraburi and a 1.4-kilometre tunnel constructed on Lam Takhong Dam in Nakhon Ratchasima. The construction of both has now been completed, according to Ms Traisuree.
Once the double track upgrades are completed, passenger trains will be able to reach speeds of up to 120km/h, while freight trains will be able to cruise at 60km/h.
It is also expected to be a new tourist attraction due to the beautiful scenery along the railway line, Ms Traisuree said.