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27 August 2009

Thailand reaffirms Mekong rail network plan

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Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said his government is committed to the plan to connect Thailand's railway system to its neighbors in the Mekong River basin.

Abhisit said, under the plan, the railway in northern Thailand will be linked to China's southwestern province of Yunnan via northern Laos while the northeastern part of Thailand will be connected to the Lao capital city of Vientiane, the central part of Laos and central Vietnam.

"Moreover, the railway in the northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani will be connected to the southern part of Laos and northern part of Cambodia," said the Thai Prime Minister.

However, Prime Minister Abhisit cannot yet specify the time frame of construction works but suggests that, with close cooperation and support from international organizations like the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and developed countries as Japan, EU, USA and China, it is believed the plan could be implemented in the near future.

Thailand has recently completed a railway link across the Mekong Bridge from Nongkhai province to Tha Nalaeng in Vientiane, Laos, to facilitate the transport of passengers and goods between the two countries. The 3.5 kilometer-long segment of the railway in Laos was funded by the Thai government at a cost of 197 million Bahts, 30 percent of which is grant while the rest is long- term loan.

The Thai government also plans to contribute some 500 million baht to the construction of another 9 kilometer-long segment of the railway extending from Tha Nalaeng into Vientiane's Xaythany district. A feasibility study and design conducted by the French Agency for Development is expected to be finished by the end of this year.


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