Construction of the Thai-China railway has now been finalised and work will begin this October. The 252.2km line is the first phase of a 615km railway from Bangkok to Nong Khai where it will intersect with the 414.3km China to Laos railway. The much anticipated line will be ready for boarding in December 2021. The Thai government have approved a $5.2 billion railway to improve Bangkok’s connectivity with Southern China. The joint infrastructural project has been hit with delays leading the government to take the plunge and independently finance the construction after failing to agree with China on the Sino-Thai joint venture to implement the project.
"China will conduct feasibility studies, design the system, construct tunnels and bridges, and lay track."
Thailand’s deputy prime minister Mr Somkid Jatusripitak said the government will seek a loan from international financial institutions such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank to finance the project. 70 percent of the investment will be funded by the Thai government through domestic and international sources with ten percent coming from the national budget and the remaining 20 percent from China.
The government says Thai companies will be responsible for civil works, which will cost Baht 122.6bn, while railway infrastructure and rolling stock will be procured from Chinese suppliers at a cost of Baht 43.8bn. Previously the Thai government had proposed creating a special purpose vehicle to invest in the project, in which China would hold a 60% stake, but this was rejected by the Chinese government. Despite the disagreements along the way, this project is part of China’s great growth forecasts s to build a high-speed rail network connecting the southern city of Kunming with Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
Even after the project has been completed, the line will still be 600km short of Laos’ border. The second phase of the project, a rail line from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai on the border has not yet been approved.
This will be the nation’s very first high-speed rail route adding to the 4,431 kilometres of existing track. China will conduct feasibility studies, design the system, construct tunnels and bridges, and lay track. Thailand will conduct social and environmental impact studies, expropriate land for construction, handle general civil engineering and power supply, and supply construction materials.
Once built, China will operate and maintain the system for the first three years of operation. Between the third and the seventh years, both countries will share responsibility. Later Thailand will take on responsibility with China as adviser. China will train Thai personnel to operate and maintain the system.
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