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Thai government approves S$6.9 billion China-developed high-speed rail project

BANGKOK — Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Tuesday (July 12) his government has approved the start of construction of a US$5 billion (S$6.9 billion) high-speed train project, to be developed by China.

Thai government approves S$6.9 billion China-developed high-speed rail project

An employee stands next to high speed railway model CRH380B trains at a production line of its parts at China CNR's Tangshan Railway Vehicle's factory in Tangshan, Hebei province. Reuters file photo

BANGKOK — Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Tuesday (July 12) his government has approved the start of construction of a US$5 billion (S$6.9 billion) high-speed train project, to be developed by China.

Speaking at press conference, Mr Prayut said construction of the rail link between Bangkok to the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima, a distance of more than 250km, will start later this year and is scheduled for completion in 2021.

It will cost an estimated 179 billion baht (around US$5.1 billion).

The government hopes to eventually extend the high-speed railway by some 350km to Nong Khai Province, opposite Laos, in the hope of boosting cross-border trade volume and turning Thailand into a regional hub.

It could eventually link Bangkok and China’s southwestern city of Kunming, over 1,200 km away, via landlocked Laos.

China, as part of its “One Belt, One Road initiative” to link Asia with Europe, is already constructing a 417-km stretch of single-track railway through Laos as part of a planned regional railway network linking Kunming with Singapore via Laos, Thailand and Malaysia.

The high-speed rail project in Thailand has been delayed for two years due to problems related to loans and technical matters.

Earlier this year, Mr Prayut, who heads Thailand’s military junta, invoked his power under the interim constitution to pave the way for the project. KYODO NEWS

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