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Thailand, China sign train investment pact, 867km track to cost 350b baht

Thailand, China sign train investment pact, 867km track to cost 350b baht

BANGKOK:  Thailand and China signed an agreement to build new tracks to fulfill Thailand’s ambition to improve its hapless train system.  The long wait for new rail system investments ended after both countries signed an agreement.

The memorandum of understanding was signed at Government House by Transport Minister Prajin Juntong and Xu Shaoshi, chairman of the National Development and Reform Council of China. The ceremony was witnessed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

It capped a visit by the Chinese premier who is the most prominent world leader to visit the country since the military seized power on May 22.

Mr Xi will also attend the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) summit in Bangkok on Saturday, along with delegates from Thailand, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

Under the agreement China will build the country’s first standard-gauge tracks on two routes. The first one will run from Nong Khai province to the Map Ta Phut deep-sea port in Rayong province via Nakhon Ratchasima province and Kaeng Khoi district in Saraburi for 734 kilometres. A second 133-kilometre line will run from Kaeng Khoi to Bangkok.

The project will be carried out on a government-to-government basis with further financial details including the construction cost to be discussed, according to Thai government statement.

The lines will consist of 1.435-metre tracks that will enable trains to run at speeds up to 180 kilometres per hour, and can accommodate high-speed trains up to 250km/h in the future. The State Railway of Thailand currently uses the 1-metre gauge system.

The Xinhua news agency estimated the construction cost at US0.6 billion (350 billion baht). Construction could start in 2016 and be completed in 2022, according to the agreement.

China plans to build another line from its southern border to Vientiane in Laos which will connect to the Thai line in Nong Khai.

The train deal will foster economic growth between China and Southeast Asia, Yang Yong of the China Railway Corporation told Xinhua.

Gen Prayut will visit China on Monday and Tuesday. While there, he plans to take a high-speed train ride from Beijing to Tianjin, said government spokesman Yongyuth Mayalarp said.

Gen Prayut will visit China on Monday and Tuesday. While there, he plans to take a high-speed train ride from Beijing to Tianjin, said government spokesman Yongyuth Mayalarp said.