China and Thailand sign high-speed railway deal
US$1.6 billion project will eventually connect to Lao border, and link with network from Kunming to Singapore
4 Nov 2020 | Michael Marray

Thai and Chinese officials have signed an agreement for the construction of a high-speed railway between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima in northeastern Thailand. Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha presided over the signing ceremony at the Government House in Bangkok on October 29.

The contract, signed by representatives of the State Railway of Thailand, China Railway International and China Railway Design Corp., is for Phase 1 of the project, which is estimated to cost 50.63 billion Thai baht (US$1.6 billion). It covers the construction of the track and electrical, signalling and communication systems, procurement of trains, maintenance and technology transfer.

The Thai side is entirely responsible for investment of this phase and the civil works, while the Chinese side will oversee the design and installation of track, electrical systems, train operation system, train procurement and personal training. The trains will be supplied by CRRC.

Considered by Thailand as a high priority project, the railway will serve as a strategic route enhancing the country’s competitiveness, while driving development in the country and the region, especially key cities along the line.

Thailand has ambitions to become a hub for transport and logistics in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. Under its rail network plans, the new line will eventually connect northwards to the Lao border, and then link with the railway currently being built between Vientiane and Boten on the border with China, itself connecting with the Chinese rail network running from Mohan to Kunming in Yunnan province.

Thus, the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima line will ultimately serve as a link for freight services running from Kunming to Singapore.

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