Author Topic: Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima high-speed rail project should be resolved in a week  (Read 372 times)

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Rail project cost nears agreement

A disagreement over the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima high-speed rail project should be resolved in a week with Thai and Chinese officials finalising the total cost.

Despite the Thai government's decision in March to fund the joint project unilaterally after unsuccessful talks on loan conditions offered by the Chinese government, a financial glitch still remains as Beijing, which will still supply high-speed train technology for the project, holds a different opinion on the total expenditure.

They estimate the project will cost 190 billion baht which is higher than 170 billion baht calculated by Thai authorities, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said on Friday after the latest meeting between the two countries in Beijing.

Thai delegates have suggested Chinese officials trim their figure. The result should be known in one week after a new meeting when the Chinese will consider reducing the cost estimates for some jobs in the project, Mr Arkhom said.

The high-speed train, which will link Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima, is a scaled-down version of the original Thai-Chinese double-track railway project connecting Bangkok with Rayong, Nakhon Ratchasima and Nong Khai in the far Northeast over a distance of 873 kilometres, as part of the inter-country tracks to connect with Laos and southern China.

The original plan faced financial obstacles when both countries could not settle their differences including the loan interest rate. This prompted Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to decide Thailand would fund it alone but hire China to build the shorter 250km-rail tracks.

There was agreement at the recent meeting to speed up the railway construction by dividing it into several sections, Mr Arkhom said. Initially there were two -- Bangkok-Kaeng Khoi in Sarabui and Kaeng Khoi-Nakhon Ratchasima. Now there are four to five sections.

"Construction workers can start their jobs straight away once the design of any section is finished," he said. They do not need to wait for the whole project to be designed, which could take up to eight months.

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