With just a few days until SmartRail Asia opens its doors in Bangkok, ASEAN rail has received a huge boost with an approval of responsibilities for all involved with the transnational railway from southern China to the Gulf of Thailand. The 873km standard gauge railway is set to cost Baht 400bn ($US 11bn) and is one of the most ambitious projects to come to the region. This agreement is a key stepping stone for China’s plan for a line running approximately 3,000km from Kunming in the south-west of the country through to Singapore. A foundation stone-laying ceremony for the project is scheduled for 19 December with construction is due to begin in mid-2016.
The framework agreed by the Thai Cabinet concerns two routes - one from Bangkok to Kaeng Khoi district of Saraburi province and the other from Map Ta Phut town of Rayong province via Kaeng Khoi and Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai province. The contract had been delayed due to disagreements over who precisely would operate the lines, with Thailand objecting to Chines control.
As reported in the Bangkok Post, a compromise was reached to overcome these objections - China will operate the lines for the first three years after completion, the in partnership with Thailand after which Bangkok would assume full control. The framework makes provisions for both countries to contribute to funding the railway; the Thai government allocating funds from the national budget while China’s export-import bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank are other potential sources.
The agreement will see China take the project lead role designing and building track systems, equipment and key infrastructure like tunnels and bridges, with Thailand playing a supporting role with environmental impact assessments, some civil engineering, and land expropriation.
SmartRail Asia takes place on 25-27th November 2015, at the BITEC in Bangkok, Thailand. It’s the only full-access, free show of its kind. And offers networking with over 2,000 Senior Rail, Metro & Government Figures and the opportunity to learn from learn from 50+ Senior Strategic Level Speakers.+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
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