Thai­land should be ‘more de­ter­mined’ to build high-speed rails

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

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.

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