Thailand gives nod to new $5.5b high-speed railway connecting with China

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Thailand’s military-backed cabinet on July 11 approved the construction of the first phase of a railway line to link the country’s industrial eastern seaboard with southern China through Laos, a massive joint infrastructure project with Beijing that has been plagued by delays and debates over financing.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who heads the Thai ruling junta, made use of an executive order in June to pave the way for the project. The first phase will encompass six railway stations on a 250-kilometer high-speed line linking the Thai capital of Bangkok and the northeastern province of Nakon Ratchasima.

“This project is part of the development of a regional transport network, in particular China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative that will link Europe, Asia and Southeast Asia,” Korbsak Pootrakool, Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, told reporters.

Thailand’s government has said Thai firms will be responsible for construction and Thailand will cover construction costs for the first phase of $5.5-billion, while China will be responsible for the railway technology, signal systems and technical training.

“The project will use Thai materials but Chinese technology will be used in the construction,” Prayuth said, adding that “we will send people to learn this so that we can operate the rail system ourselves in the future.”

However, the project is not without critics. Since the prime minister invoked Section 44 of the interim charter to tackle stumbling blocks of the Thai-Chinese high-speed train project, many feel it lacks transparency. The World Bank has urged the Thai government to hold an open bidding for the railway construction, but Prayut declined, arguing that the project was an “urgent issue.”

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Reading Time: 1 minute

Thailand’s military-backed cabinet on July 11 approved the construction of the first phase of a railway line to link the country’s industrial eastern seaboard with southern China through Laos, a massive joint infrastructure project with Beijing that has been plagued by delays and debates over financing.

Reading Time: 1 minute

Thailand’s military-backed cabinet on July 11 approved the construction of the first phase of a railway line to link the country’s industrial eastern seaboard with southern China through Laos, a massive joint infrastructure project with Beijing that has been plagued by delays and debates over financing.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who heads the Thai ruling junta, made use of an executive order in June to pave the way for the project. The first phase will encompass six railway stations on a 250-kilometer high-speed line linking the Thai capital of Bangkok and the northeastern province of Nakon Ratchasima.

“This project is part of the development of a regional transport network, in particular China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative that will link Europe, Asia and Southeast Asia,” Korbsak Pootrakool, Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, told reporters.

Thailand’s government has said Thai firms will be responsible for construction and Thailand will cover construction costs for the first phase of $5.5-billion, while China will be responsible for the railway technology, signal systems and technical training.

“The project will use Thai materials but Chinese technology will be used in the construction,” Prayuth said, adding that “we will send people to learn this so that we can operate the rail system ourselves in the future.”

However, the project is not without critics. Since the prime minister invoked Section 44 of the interim charter to tackle stumbling blocks of the Thai-Chinese high-speed train project, many feel it lacks transparency. The World Bank has urged the Thai government to hold an open bidding for the railway construction, but Prayut declined, arguing that the project was an “urgent issue.”

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