Thai rail­way deals of­fer ‘huge room’ for Bei­jing

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By ZHAO YANRONG in Bangkok and ZHAO LEI in Bei­jing

Rail­way con­struc­tion in Thai­land will present China with many op­por­tu­ni­ties to work with the South­east­ern Asian coun­try in the rail sec­tor, an in­dus­try in­sider says.

“There will be huge room for co­op­er­a­tion,” said Yang Yong, an of­fi­cial in charge of re­la­tions with South­east­ern Asian coun­tries at China Rail­way Corp.

Yang said Chi­nese com­pa­nies have al­ready been ex­ten­sively in­volved in help­ing Thai­land to mod­ern­ize its rail sys­tem, and new lines are on the way.

Fea­si­bil­ity re­search for the 680km Bangkok to Chi­ang Mai and 450-km Bangkok to Nong Khai lines, which have long been pro­posed by Thai rail plan­ners, was car­ried out by Chi­nese en­gi­neers, Yang said.

On Wed­nes­day, the Thai mil­i­tary junta ap­proved the two rail­way projects link­ing south­ern China and Thai­land. These are aimed at pro­mot­ing re­gional eco­nomic growth and in­te­gra­tion be­tween China and South­east Asia.

Un­der a 2.4 tril­lion baht ($75 bil­lion) in­fra­struc­ture plan cov­er­ing 2015 to 2022, about 741.4 bil­lion baht will be in­vested in a 737-km route from Nong Khai province in north­east­ern Thai­land to Map Ta Phut in the coun­try’s eastern Ray­ong province.

The plan also cov­ers a 655-km line from Chi­ang Khong in the north­ern province of Chi­ang Rai to Ban Phachi in the cen­tral province of Ayutthaya.

Soithip Traisuth, Thai­land’s per­ma­nent sec­re­tary for trans­port, told the Bangkok Post the two routes will op­er­ate at a max­i­mum speed of 160 km/h, less than the 200 km/h planned pre­vi­ously.

“This is to al­low a pos­si­ble shift to higher speeds af­ter more in­vest­ment in the fu­ture,” Soithip was quoted as say­ing.

A study will also be car­ried out to explore ways to bring con­struc­tion costs of the dual-track rail sys­tem down from about 500-600 mil­lion baht per km to around 350 to 400 mil­lion, Soithip added.

Wang Meng­shu, a tun­nel and rail­way ex­pert at the Chi­nese Academy of Engi­neer­ing, said the rea­son for lower speeds on the new lines could be that they are not as long as high-speed lines in China and there will be many stops. The Bangkok Post said the routes are in line with a pro­posal by China, which wants to link its south­ern re­gions to South­east Asia through Thai­land.


Soithip said that in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment projects, in­clud­ing the two rail lines, are in­tended to im­prove con­nec­tions within Thai­land’s trans­port net­work that in­clude gate­ways to border trade, key cities, sea­ports, air­ports and cargo rail trans­port cen­ters.

Thai­land’s mil­i­tary junta ex­pects the rail sys­tem to play a sig­nif­i­cant role in in­creas­ing trade with neigh­bor­ing na­tions.

China is con­sid­er­ing build­ing a 3,000-km high-speed line from Yun­nan province, which would pass through Laos, Thai­land and Malaysia to Sin­ga­pore.

This would boost China’s GDP and that of the re­lated coun­tries by $375 bil­lion, Zhao Xiao­gang, for­mer chair­man of China South Lo­co­mo­tive and Rolling Stock Co, a lead­ing Chi­nese in­dus­trial man­u­fac­turer and ex­porter, told China Daily last month. Con­tact the writ­ers at zhaoy­an­rong@chi­ and zhaolei@chi­

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