The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) will ask the cabinet to approve the funding for the second phase of double-track upgrades between Khon Kaen and Nong Khai next week, according to Department of Rail Transport director-general Pichet Kunathammarak on Thursday.
The construction and investment plans for the second phase of the upgrades, which is expected to cost 29.7 billion baht to complete, will be forwarded to the cabinet on Monday, along with the opinions of the Budget Bureau and the National Economics and Social Development Council (NESDC), he said.
On Monday, he said, the SRT will seek the cabinet's approval to borrow the funds required to upgrade 167 kilometres of track between Khon Kaen and Nong Khai. The loan will be repaid by the Budget Bureau using the government's annual budget.
The cabinet will also be asked to allow it to start expropriating land to make way for the construction, he said, adding if the proposal gets approved on Monday, the process should be done by June next year.
Furthermore, the DRT chief said contractors will be invited to bid online for the project, which is expected to take three years to complete. Construction, he said, should begin in May next year.
The double-track upgrades are meant to improve connectivity to the northeastern region and beyond. It will run alongside the kingdom's first high-speed rail (HSR) line, which will initially connect Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima.
Deputy Transport Minister Surapong Piyachote said the first phase of the Northeastern HSR will be completed by the end of the year.
The line will also be integrated with the planned HSR link to Greater Bangkok's three main airports, Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airports.
The plan to carry out double-track upgrades along a 45-km stretch of track between Hat Yai district in Songkhla and Padang Besar in neighbouring Malaysia, which is estimated to cost about 7.86 billion baht, will be brought forward to later this year. The project was initially scheduled for 2029, but the government is keen to promote and facilitate border trade by developing the region's transport infrastructure, he said.
Transport officials have already been told to submit their proposal for the Hat Yai-Padang Besar double-track upgrade to the SRT board by next week. The cabinet will review it in November, he said.