Prayut wants major rail network increase

Prayut wants major rail network increase

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha looks at a model train that he accidentally derailed after delivering a speech to open the Second Thai Rail Industry Symposium and Exhibition at the Airport Rail Link's Makkasan station Wednesday. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha looks at a model train that he accidentally derailed after delivering a speech to open the Second Thai Rail Industry Symposium and Exhibition at the Airport Rail Link's Makkasan station Wednesday. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

The government aims to expand the country's total rail network to 7,000km by 2022 to reduce logistics costs and take advantage of the country's geographic position. 

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the expansion is needed as the country has failed to make headway in rail development for years. The rail network currently stretches 4,070km.

He was speaking at a seminar and exhibition on rail component production at the Airport Rail Link's Makkasan station Wednesday. He said the government is trying to create a connectivity network for all modes of transportation.

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said the ministry has a plan to transform the country into a major transport hub for Asean and the Mekong sub-region, as well as a transit route linking the Asia-Pacific with South Asia, Africa and Europe. 

The move is included in the national transport investment plan from 2015 to 2022 and the national logistics strategic plan from 2013 to 2017. 

"The Transport Ministry wants a rail network offering a low-cost service. It is currently second in affordability after water transport," said Mr Arkhom, noting rail shipments account for only 2% of all transport volume and the ministry aims to push this up to 5% by 2022.

The move would help reduce logistics costs from 14% of GDP to 10-12% within eight years, a similar level to other advanced nations. 

After the rail network increases to 7,000km, factories could be set up to produce train components, signal systems and carriages, Mr Arkhom said.

He said the ministry will also work with the Science and Technology Ministry and the Industry Ministry to develop rail components, human resources and signal systems by adopting technologies from abroad. 

Land around the rail stations and on both sides of the rail tracks will be commercially developed to supplement income for financing the rail operations, the minister said.


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