Thai-Ja­panese rail plans take shape

Bangkok Post - - NATIONAL - OM JOTIKASTHI­RA

Ini­tial con­struc­tion costs for the ThaiJa­panese high-speed rail­way’s first phase from Bangkok to Phit­san­u­lok have been es­ti­mated at 270 bil­lion baht, says Trans­port Min­is­ter Arkhom Termpit­taya­paisith.

Mr Arkhom said plans for the phase are due to be sub­mit­ted to the cabi­net for con­sid­er­a­tion this year.

The 380-kilo­me­tre route from Bangkok to Phit­san­u­lok is part of a project be­tween Thai­land and Ja­pan to con­struct a high­speed rail­way con­nect­ing the cap­i­tal to Chi­ang Mai.

The Bangkok-Phit­san­u­lok route was dis­cussed at a meet­ing be­tween the Min­istry of Trans­port and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Ja­pan’s Min­istry of Land, In­fra­struc­ture, Trans­port and Tourism (MLIT) yes­ter­day.

The sec­ond phase, con­nect­ing Phit­san­u­lok to Chi­ang Mai, was not dis­cussed at the meet­ing, said Mr Arkhom.

He said the ini­tial 270-bil­lion-baht cost was based on an es­ti­mate re­lated to Ja­pan’s sug­gested project in­vest­ment strat­egy.

“The type of in­vest­ment they have sug­gested in­volves very high ini­tial in­vest­ment, and low over­all main­te­nance costs,” said Mr Arkhom. He added that the fig­ure is sub­ject to change once the Ja­panese min­istry sub­mits a re­search re­port on the project to the Thai Trans­port Min­istry this year.

Af­ter the re­port is sub­mit­ted, the de­sign phase for the Bangkok-Phit­san­u­lok stretch will be­gin next year, said Mr Arkhom.

He said that the main sta­tions along the route will in­clude Don Muang, Lop Buri, Nakhon Sawan, Phi­chit, Phit­san­u­lok and Sukhothai.

“If ev­ery­thing goes ac­cord­ing to plan, con­struc­tion will be­gin in 2019,” said Mr Arkhom. “Con­struc­tion could take four to five years, with the ser­vice rolling out in 2022.”

The min­ster said MLIT re­ported that the first phase of the project could help the economies of lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties grow by 14.7%.

He said MLIT has been asked to specif­i­cally spell out how the rail­way will help de­velop ar­eas sur­round­ing the train sta­tions, es­pe­cially in met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas.

Mr Arkhom said that while the project is a gov­ern­ment to gov­ern­ment col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort, Thai­land and Ja­pan are still in dis­cus­sions on whether pri­vate com­pa­nies will be el­i­gi­ble to in­vest in the project.

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