Construction of the Laos-China rail link will be complete in 2021 but this railway will not be connected to the Thai rail network until 2023.
A senior Thai government official, Nathporn Chatusripitak, said last week that construction of the Thai-China railway, which will run from Bangkok to Nong Khai on the Lao-Thai border has begun, adding that the government will push for its completion in 2023.
Once this track is operational, it will be connected to the Laos-China railway, Mr Nathporn, who serves as the spokesman for Thailand’s deputy prime minister Mr Somkid Jatusripitak, said as quoted in the Bangkok Post last week.
According to him, the Bangkok-Nong Khai rail project is divided into two phases. The first involves a 253km-long section from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima. At 355km, the second phase will link Nakhon Ratchasima with Nong Khai. The first phase has been split into 14 civil works contracts, Mr Nathporn said.
Construction is now underway on a 3.5km section from Klang Dong to Pang Asok in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Pak Chong district, under the first contract worth 425 million baht. The work began in December 2017 and is now 45 percent complete, Mr Nathporn said.
The second contract involves an 11km section from Sikhiu district to tambon Kut Chik in Sung Noen district in Nakhon Ratchasima.
The second contract is worth 3.1 billion baht, and construction of the track will start in April, he added.
The remaining 12 civil works contracts for the first phase are expected to be signed in April.
Civil works for the entire Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima route are expected to begin in June, Mr Nathporn said, adding that the total cost of construction would be 110 billion baht.
Regarding the project’s second phase, Mr Nathporn said Thailand and China would discuss technical issues to assess the cost of the operating system.
China will submit an estimate to the Thai government one month after an agreement is reached, he said, adding that construction of the second phase is expected to break ground this year.
Thailand will be responsible for the design work during construction of the second phase, he added.
Mr Nathporn said that when complete the high-speed railway will have trains running at speeds of 250km per hour. This will cut travel time from Bangkok to Nong Khai from 11 to just three hours.
He also said China would hold training sessions to teach Thai personnel about high-speed train technology. The two sides have agreed that about 900 people will be employed to operate the railway.
The Thai government has approved 920 million baht for training. Thailand will invest in all of the civil works for the project while China will install the operating system, Mr Nathporn said.