Asia

Thailand, Malaysia to begin talks on HSR linking Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur: Thai minister

Thailand, Malaysia to begin talks on HSR linking Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur: Thai minister
A Chinese high-speed train in Shijiazhuang. AP file photo
Published: 9:05 PM, February 8, 2017
Updated: 9:10 PM, February 8, 2017

BANGKOK — Thailand and Malaysia are set to begin talks on building a High Speed Rail (HSR) to link their respective capitals, Thailand’s Transport Minister told the Nikkei Asian Review on Monday (Feb 6).

Mr Arkhom Termpittayapaisiht told the Japanese publication that the two countries will discuss how to get foreign countries involved in the project, with China and Japan mooted as possible partners. He added however that “Malaysia seems to have more favour in China”.

The Bangkok-Kuala Lumpur route would be 1,500km long and would feature as part of a pan-Asia railway network plan that was first proposed by former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad back in 1995. Dr Mahathir’s initial proposal had been to build a rail network that would run all the way from Singapore to the Chinese city of Kunming — passing through Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.

“ASEAN cities should be connected by high speed rail,” Mr Arkhom said, adding that, unlike air routes, a railway connection “can promote cities along the railway line”.

Singapore and Malaysia are already planning a HSR project that would link the Republic to Kuala Lumpur in 90 minutes. Operations for the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur HSR are targeted to begin by Dec 31, 2026.