Latest link 'won't touch' Ayutthaya

Latest link 'won't touch' Ayutthaya

A new high-speed rail development plan will not impact the world heritage site in Ayutthaya, according to the Transport Ministry.

Deputy Transport Minister Surapong Piyachote yesterday answered the queries of Tawiwong Totawiwong, Move Forward Party MP for Ayutthaya, over the possible impact of the project on the Historic City of Ayutthaya which was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1991.

Mr Surapong said that a heritage impact assessment (HIA) was carried out by the State Railway of Thailand and Silpakorn University's Faculty of Archaeology to ease the concern of Unesco and people about the impact of the project.

"I insist that the railway station will not be located in the world heritage zone but 1.5km away. There's also the Pa Sak River interposing between the city and the site, so it is impossible for the city to expand that way," he said.

However, Mr Surapong cited Japan's Toji Temple in Kyoto and Germany's Cologne Cathedral as proof that high-speed railways can exist near heritage sites. "The area around the railway station will be developed to facilitate public transport for regular commuters as well as tourists," he said.

The surrounding landscape will be spruced up with more green spaces.

The deputy transport minister insisted that a study on station development was carried out to lessen the impact on the archaeological site. The study will be followed up by relevant panels.

"There's no plan for land expropriation as the railway will be built on existing routes."

Mr Surapong said the construction will be carried out by a Thai contractor using domestically sourced materials, adding that the project will be overseen by observers from anti-corruption organisations.

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