The cabinet approved a draft cooperation framework Tuesday for the Thai-Chinese railway development project.
Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the draft framework covered the construction of 1.435-metre standard-gauge railways along two routes. They are Nong Khai-Nakhon Ratchasima-Kaeng Khoi and Bangkok-Kaeng Khoi-Map Ta Phut. The two routes together will cover 867 kilometres and cost Baht 400bn ($US 11bn)
Construction will be divided into four sections — Bangkok-Kaeng Khoi; Kaeng Khoi-Map Ta Phut: Keang Khoi-Nakhon Ratchasima; and Nakhon Ratchasima-Nong Khai.
Mr Sansern stated that Thailand and China would establish special vehicle companies to run the train system, train operation, and maintenance and repair services.
The project’s development will be based on the Engineering, Procurement, Construction method in which Thailand is the project owner, while China designs, procures and constructs track systems and equipment.
China will be responsible for construction that requires high technology such as tunnels, bridges and the rail operating system, while Thailand will be in charge of environmental impact assessments, civil work, land expropriation, electricity supply and equipment support for the construction.
Funding will be drawn from several sources — the fiscal budget, borrowing from domestic financial institutions and international loans, mainly from the Export-Import Bank of China but on condition that lending rates not exceed domestic rates. Rail operation and maintenance will be divided into three phases, with China fully responsible for the first three years after completion.
During years four to seven Thailand and China will have equal responsibility, and after seven years Thailand will take over full responsibility, with China serving as an adviser to the project.
The two countries would then take six months to analyse and evaluate project details and the worthiness of the investment before submitting the project for cabinet approval. Construction could start in may stated Mr Arkhom.
A foundation stone-laying ceremony for the project is scheduled for 19 December with construction is due to begin in mid-2016.
Meanwhile an agreement has also been reached to fast-track eight investment projects under the public-private partnership (PPP) programme, according to Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak. Implementation of the projects, which the cabinet hopes to speed up prior to the bidding process, could be shortened from 22 months to nine months.
The projects designated for next year and 2017 are worth 347 billion baht. They are the Pink Line; the Yellow Line; the Blue Line (Bang Sue-Tha Phra); Bang Pa-in-Nakhon Ratchasima motorway; Bang Pa-in-Nakhon Ratchasima motorway; Bang Yai-Kanchanaburi motorway; a garbage disposal plant in Nonthaburi; garbage disposal facilities in Nakhon Ratchasima; and a marine commerce center Mr Somkid said.
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said the ministry is pushing for the cabinet to include two high-speed train routes worth 246 billion baht in the PPP fast-track programme.
Agreement reached on Thai-Chinese railway development project.