Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has made sure the construction of the 'historic' Sino-Thai railway project will begin in October as planned.
Gen Prayut told reporters on Friday that he ordered Transport Minister Prajin Juntong to speed up railway investment after past disagreements had delayed the conclusion of the terms of reference for the project.
"Next month [August] it must start. The Thai-Chinese railway is historic and its construction will begin within October," said the prime minister, referring to the bilateral framework agreement on the Bangkok-Nong Khai railway expected to be sealed in August.
Gen Prayut said he expected clear developments in the railway project.
The 867-kilometre standard gauge double-track railway from Thailand's Nong Khai province next to Vientiane to Bangkok and Thailand's eastern seaboard area of Map Ta Phut in Rayong province will be the final section of the railway link from southern China through Laos to the Gulf of Thailand.
ACM Prajin said later on Friday that Gen Prayut was worried about the project as its design and financial plan had not been concluded. He assured that they would be finished within August as earlier set.
He admitted that Thai and Chinese officials had disagreed on its routes, stations and trains' top speed but China already accepted Thailand's standpoints on the matters.
Earlier, China wanted the top speed of 250 kilometres per hour but the Transport Ministry insisted on 180 km/h to cut the construction cost. If the top speed was set at 250 km/h, the construction cost of the project to which China plans to lend would be 420 billion baht. The cost of the 180 km/h project has yet to be finalised.
The framework agreement on the railway project covers its design work, train routes, rail stations, and value. The draft agreement will be discussed at a bilateral meeting on Aug 6-8 in China and be finalised by Aug 21 before it is sent to the cabinet in early September.
Earlier, the routes and design works were expected to be completed by July 15.