ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
High-speed rail plan attracts interest in Thailand
Of the five planned high-speed train routes, two are priorities for the government with expected investments of 302 billion baht, said Transport Minister Sohpon Zarum at the first market sounding of the projects in Bangkok yesterday.
He insisted that the government welcomed participation from all interested bidders. The prioritised routes of 754 kilometres between Bangkok and Chiang Mai will cost 229.8 billion baht and the 221-km line from Bangkok to Rayong will cost 72.3 billion baht.
"Even though parliament assigned the government to negotiate with the Chinese government to co-invest in the high-speed train projects,that is just a part of what we are going to do," he told the forum of 300 participants.
"It is still uncertain whether we can convince the Chinese government to invest in these projects."
The Thai unit of Germany-based electrical engineering giant Siemens AG said the market sounding is a good start.
"It shows the government seriously wants to make these projects happen even though an exact timeframe has not been set," said Pariya Cumperayot, head of sales at Siemens Thailand. Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said the government was working on a final version of the Public-Private Partnership law. He added that once the PPP amendment is approved the process would be shortened to 24 months.
The ministry has also prepared a new financial mechanism that allows capital-intensive projects to be able to raise funds through new channels such as infrastructure funds, which allow Thai people to have ownership in public transport projects.
The audience expressed concern over the transparency of the project, especially the procurement process, and also the short length of the route to Rayong, suggesting it be extended to Trat. The five high-speed train routes have a total length of 3,020 km. The other three routes connecting to Bangkok are a 700-km track from Nong Khai, a 500-km run to Udon Thani and a 900-km line to Padang Besar.
Letters that do not contain full contact information cannot be published.
Letters become the property of AseanAffairs and may be republished in any format.
They typically run 150 words or less and may be edited
submit your comment in the box below