After announcing plans to build a high-speed railway through Thailand to much fanfare, China has decided to go for the medium-speed alternative to support cargo transport instead.
The project is part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” Silk Road initiative aiming to develop trade and transport infrastructure across Asia and Europe. The railway consists of two lines that will link China’s Kunming city to northeast Thailand’s Nong Khai.
“We invited them to do high-speed [railways], but they chose to do medium speed … because they want to have cargo transport as well,” Thailand’s deputy prime minister, Pridiyathorn Devakula, was quoted as saying. “It’s a choice of China, not a choice of Thailand.”
Devakula also announced that construction of the mid-speed railway will most likely begin in November, despite the two countries allegedly failing to reach an agreement on the project’s fundings. Reports say Thailand thinks the interest rate offered by China’s Export-Import (Exim) Bank is too high.
Even though Japan has joined the competition in signing rail deals with Thailand, the Thai deputy prime minister says China is “one to two years” ahead of Japan in helping his country upgrade its railway network.