CP seeks to invest in fast train projects

CP seeks to invest in fast train projects

Firm meets Prajin over high-speed plan

Agro-industrial and food conglomerate Charoen Pokphand (CP) has expressed an interest in investing in the government's high-speed train projects, Transport Minister Prajin Juntong says.

Speaking after a meeting on Thursday with CP executives, ACM Prajin said the agro-business giant wanted to invest in both the development and also administration of the projects.

One project links Bangkok, Pattaya and Rayong, with a total distance of 194km, requiring an initial budget of 150 billion baht, the minister said.

At the meeting, CP had invited two other companies — Citic Construction from Hong Kong and HNA from China, which also showed interest in joining the investment — to meet the minister.

The minister had asked CP to conduct a feasibility study for the project to be submitted to the Transport Ministry by May 9.

"The window of opportunity for investment is still open to other investors," said ACM Prajin, noting the ministry has not yet passed a list of investors to the cabinet but was asking CP to work on a study of the routes the company was interested in.

The ministry expects to submit the list to the cabinet for approval at the end of next month, he said.

Thai Beverage Plc (ThaiBev) also has shown an interest in investing in the high-speed train linking Bangkok and Hua Hin.

Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc, or BTS, has an interest in a double-track train from Khon Kaen to Map Ta Phut.

Meanwhile, Strabag, a construction firm from Germany which is interested in investing in Thai train projects, also met ACM Prajin.

The company has showed an interest in a route between Satun and Songkhla.

Meanwhile, Thailand is working closely with China on a survey of a double-track rail project linking Bangkok, Vientiane and Kunming.

It will include a study on the environmental impacts of the project, and details of how the investment will be funded.

Speaking after another meeting, ACM Prajin said a Chinese team of 80 experts and authorities had been sent to work with Thai officials from the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) and his ministry to conduct a land survey of the Thai rail routes: Bangkok-Kaeng Khoi; Map Ta Phut-Kaeng Khoi; and Nakhon Ratchasima-Nong Khai, the far northeastern province opposite the Lao capital of Vientiane.

The minister also held talks with state authorities overseeing the project to prepare for a meeting with China that is scheduled for May 6-8 to discuss the development of a double-track rail route.

Next month, ACM Prajin said, the Chinese team will install 3D cameras for aerial surveys into areas which stand to be affected.

The results will be fed into the study process.

At the meeting, three working groups, chaired by three SRT deputy governors, were set up.

The working groups comprise technical committee members undertaking work on the rail system and communication systems; commercial and ticketing committee members responsible for route controls, safety concerns, ticketing systems and facilities; and personnel committee members overseeing staff training programmes and maintenance of trains.

As for an environmental preparedness plan, ACM Prajin said a new consultant team hired by the SRT will be set up to support the existing team.

It will work closely with the Chinese to ensure the results of a study on project impacts will be handed over to an environmental committee in September.

Meanwhile, deputy Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith is working on the set-up of the maintenance centre and an investment model, he said.

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