Thai-Japanese rail link to Chiang Mai follows China model

BANGKOK: Thailand’s Cabinet is expected to consider the draft of an agreement on the Thai-Japanese high-speed railway tomorrow ahead of the signing of a memorandum of co-operation on the Bangkok-Chiang Mai route in Tokyo next week.

The 715km Bangkok-Chiang Mai line is scheduled to open in 2019, Transport Minister Prajin Juntong told Nation Multimedia Group last week.

The Thai government is also co-operating with China on the development of the 400 billion baht (RM42.4bil) Bangkok-Nong Khai route with medium-speed trains running at 160kph to 180kph.

The focus of this project is on the linkage of trade and services and goods transportation in Asean.

The Thai-Japanese railway project, which would run trains at an average speed of 250kph, would likely adopt the same model as the Thai-Chinese medium-speed railway project.

The project’s value is estimated at 400 billion baht, as it can be traded with a low loan rate.

The Japanese government led by Shinzo Abe expressed its interest in a few routes during the official visit of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to Japan in February.

Recently, Japan decided on the Bangkok-Chiang Mai route.

As for the Kanchanaburi-Bangkok-Sa Kaeo railway, including a spur from Bangkok to Laem Chabang, which Japan is also interested in, Prajin said no new line would be constructed.

Japan would just fill in missing links or make parts of the mostly single existing track into a double track – with a track width of 1m.

For the Bangkok-Nong Khai route, there was progress after both countries signed a memo of co-operation early this month. — The Nation / Asia News Network

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