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NEWS UPDATES 28 June 2010

Possible Sino-Thai train venture

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China's largest train manufacturer, Changchun Railway Vehicles Co (CRC), is in talks with the Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTSC) about joining with the Skytrain operator to develop projects outside Thailand, the Bangkok Post reports. BTS is highly competitive and offers strong technological capability, says CRC chairman Dong Xiaofeng.

CRC chairman Dong Xiaofeng said the company had seen an opportunity for jointly developing international projects with BTSC in countries such as Burma, Vietnam, Malaysia and Laos. "We have been in discussions with BTS to expand our operations outside Thailand," Mr. Dong said at a ceremony on Friday to mark the delivery of 12 sets of 4C engines and CRC-made trains to BTS at Laem Chabang port in Chon Buri.

"BTS is the most competitive train operator in Thailand with strong technological capability. That's the main reason why we want to expand our cooperation, partly by bidding for international projects together."

If demand is big enough in Asean, CRC might also invest in a train assembly plant in Thailand to serve the region, he added.

Headquartered in Jilin province in northeastern China, CRC controls half of the train market on the mainland and supplies 70 percent of all metro trains in use in urban areas. The company has a capacity to produce 1,000 high-speed trains a year and 1,500 units of metro trains, with 12,000 workers.

CRC-made trains are exported to more than 10 international markets including Iran, Pakistan, Italy, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia. Mr Xiaofeng said CRC had a joint-venture agreement for a train assembly plant in Tehran, which is expected to start the operations in four years, and has formed a similar joint venture in South America.

Surapong Laoha-Unya, the BTS chief operating officer, said the metro rail projects in Vietnam could offer the best potential for a joint venture involving the two companies. In addition to being keen on investing in and operating metro lines in Vietnam, BTS has been in talks with the Macau government to either develop a rail system or offer management expertise. Earlier, BTS signed a memorandum of understanding to invest in train project in Mumbai but the project was put on hold after a terrorist attack on a Mumbai hotel in late 2008, Mr. Surapong said.

Shares of BTS closed on Friday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 0.76, down one satang, in trade worth 665.15 million baht.


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