Transport Minister Prajin Juntong expects the double-track railway linking southern China, Laos and central Thailand will be completed within five years.
The minister discussed the transnational railway project with Lao authorities in Bangkok on Monday. After the meeting, he said that Thailand and Laos would push for completion by 2020.
"Tracks in Thailand and Laos will take about four years to connect. The section that will link with Kunming will be done within five years. So by 2020, the link from Kunming to Bangkok and Map Ta Phut surely will be completed," ACM Prajin said.
He also said that construction for all sections of the railway in the three countries would start this year. He referred to the 520-kilometre-long line from Kunming to China's border with Laos, the 417km section from the border to Vientiane, and the 867km section from Nong Khai province adjacent to Vientiane to Bangkok and the Map Ta Phut area in the eastern province of Rayong.
Thai and Lao authorities also plan to build a dedicated railway bridge across the Mekong River to serve the transnational railway instead of using existing track on the first Thai-Lao friendship bridge linking Nong Khai and Vientiane, ACM Prajin said.