Thailand should be ‘more determined’ to build high-speed rails
BANGKOK — Thailand should be more determined to build high-speed rails to link the kingdom with neighboring countries and China, which will generate huge economic benefits, former governor of State Railway of Thailand Prapat Chongsanguan has said.
“High-speed rails can really change a country and bring prosperity as what we have witnessed in China,” he said recently. “I have been to China when high speed rail was not developed. I can tell how much people’s lives were changed by the expanding of high-speed rail network there.
“I want Thailand to enjoy the same prosperity in China brought by high-speed rail,” Prapat added.
Thailand plans to build a 252-kilometer railway with a maximum speed of 250 km/h from the capital Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima in the northeastern region, which is the first phase of ThailandChina railway project, and Chinese technology will be introduced to build it.
The first high-speed rail in Thailand is set to be approved by the government soon and the construction of the first 3.5 km section is set to start this year, Thai officials said.
“Once the high-speed rail starts operation, it would take some 1.5 hours to travel from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima while we usually have to spend more than 2 hours stuck in the traffic jam here in Bangkok, especially in rainy days, the change is tremendous,” Prapat said.
He emphasized such a highspeed rail project will bring investment to the northeastern part of Thailand to ease the wide disparity between the capital and regional cities.
According to the master plan, the 252-km route will be further extended to link with China-Laos railway in Lao capital Vientiane.
Prapat said high-speed rail should be long enough to link Thailand with other countries to play a bigger role.
Regarding the time and cost of the project, Prapat, who used to be the governor of Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand from 1997 to 2008, said Thais should not be afraid of huge investment projects, as being
High-speed rails can ... bring prosperity as what we have witnessed in China.” Prapat Chongsanguan, former state railway governor of Thailand
too cautious will stop Thailand from further development.
“Building metro lines in Bangkok was first put forward in 1975, and the blue line started operation in 2004 when I was in office, if we had built metro lines earlier, the traffic problem of Bangkok would be much smaller,” He said, adding that “newly graduated men and women would not take buying cars as their priority”.
Could be more expensive
Prapat said that if Thailand does not build high-speed train now, the kingdom has to build it in the future, maybe 10 years later and such projects may be more expensive than now.
Besides the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima route, the Thai government also plans to build high speed rail linking Bangkok-Chiang Mai, Bangkok-Rayong and Bangkok-Hua Hin.
The former state railway governor called for using the same kind of technology in building high speed railways in the country.
“Using two kinds of technology which are incompatible may cause problem in the future, we have to know which kind of technology is introduced in our neighboring countries as these high-speed rails are to link us with other countries,” Prapat said.
“I think the Chinese technology is safe and efficient, so I ask the government to make wise decisions on this issue, or we have to invest more to build more rails and get less as they are incompatible,” He added.
China has the world’s longest high-speed rail network, 22,000 km at the end of last year, about 60 percent of the world’s total.