Thai military government comes back on High speed train

Posted on July 31, 2014

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Thailand’s military government approved a massive budget to upgrade the country’s railways including high-speed rail that would eventually link with China. Transport Ministry permanent secretary Soithip Traisuth says the junta approved 741.46 billion baht ($23.3 billion) to build two high-speed train routes. Similar plans by the government ousted in a May 22 military coup were scrapped by a court but they are now back.
The two approved rail links will start from the Laotian border. One will go from Nong Khai to Map Ta Phut, south of Pattaya. The second route will link Chaing Khong in the province of Chiang Rai and Ban Phachi near Ayutthaya. Surprisingly, neither Bangkok nor Chiang Mai are now included into both high speed train links. Another important change is the reduction of the maximum speed for the train, which will reduced from 200 km/hour to 160 km/hour. It is then difficult to talk about high speed links as the future speed of these trains will be half the speed of trains in Japan, China or France.
Meanwhile, it will be a huge improvement over the current speed of Thai trains which rarely pass the 100 km/hour. However, the Permanent Secretary Ms Soithip Traisuth highlighted that the possibility will remain open for trains to circulate at higher speed in the future.
A study would be carried out to explore ways to bring the construction cost of the dual-track rail system from about 500-600 million baht per km to a range of 350-400 million baht per km, she said. Dual-track rail system will be expanded as planned by the previous government. The slow speed of trains in the Kingdom is mainly due to the fact that most of the network is single-track, forcing trains to stop en-route to let the circulation of the opposite trains.
The Nong Khai-Map Ta Phut route will be 737km in length and is due to cost THB 392.5 billion while the Chiang Khong-Ban Phachi route will be 655km long and is due to cost THB 348.8 billion. The construction of both high speed trains is expected to last for eight years and will start by next year for a completion in 2022.
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