Work on a US$12.2bn rail project between Thailand and China will begin this year, Thailand’s Transport Minister Air Chief Marshall Prajin Juntong has announced.
The two countries reportedly agreed to build the railway in December of last year with a view to connecting ports in the east of Thailand to the border with Laos.
According to the Bangkok Post, the double-track rail road will stretch for 873 km, with construction expected to begin on the first two sections – a 133 km track from Bangkok to Kaeng Khoi and a 246.5 km track between Kaeng Khoi and Map Ta Phut – in September. Services on these routes are due to start operations by December 2017.
Work on the two remaining sections – a 138.5km track between Kaeng Khoi and Nakhon Ratchasima and a 355km track from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai – will begin in December, with services expected to begin in March 2018.
“We expect it will cost about THB400bn (US$12.2bn) and will be completed within two and a half years,” said Juntong. He explained that the route has been divided into four sections to speed the exploration and design processes.
Depending on the results of a land survey, the estimated cost could yet rise.
Juntong said that around 12-15 Thai companies with relevant experience are being sought to partake in the project, while five Chinese state enterprises are also expected to be involved.