General Prayut Chan-o-cha presides over the contract signing ceremony for railway system, mechanical and electrical systems, and personnel training of the Thai–Chinese HSR Project (Section 1: Bangkok–Nakhon Ratchasima)

On 28 October 2020, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister, presided over the signing ceremony of Contract 2-3: Railway System, Mechanical and Electrical Systems, Procurement of Rolling Stocks, and Personnel Training for the Project on the Cooperation between the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Bangkok–Nong Khai HSR Development for Regional Connectivity (Section 1: Bangkok–Nakhon Ratchasima) between the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), China Railway International Co., Ltd. and China Railway Design Corporation. The event was held at Phakdi Bodin Building, Government House, and was attended by Mr. Anutin Charnvirakul, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand and Minister of Public Health; Mr. Saksayam Chidchob, Minister of Transport; Gen. Anupong Paochinda, Minister of Interior; Mr. Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, Minister of Finance; and Mr. Chayatan Phromsorn, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport; executives from the Ministry of Transport and subordinate agencies; and members of the media.

At the signing ceremony, Mr. Saksayam Chidchob, Minister of Transport, stated that the scope of work of Contract 2-3 for the government-to-government (G2G) cooperation covered the construction of a 253-kilometer railway, high-speed train system works which included the electrical system, signaling system and communications system, procurement and supply of rolling stocks, personnel training for train operation and maintenance, and technology transfer. The total cost is 50,633.5 million baht, which remains within the project’s budget of 179,412.21 million baht.

The construction of the Bangkok–Nong Khai HSR Project is divided into two sections. Section 1 stretches for 253 kilometers from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima passing through five provinces. This section has six stations, namely Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal and Don Mueang Station, Ayutthaya Station, Saraburi Station, Pak Chong Station and Nakhon Ratchasima Station, the last four are newly built to serve the high-speed train system. With the total budget of 179,412.21 million baht, the project’s civil works construction is carried out under 14 contracts. Currently, the construction under Contract 1-1: Klang Dong–Pang Asok Section has been completed, that of Contract 2-1: Sikhio–Kut Chik Section is in progress, while nine contracts are yet to be signed. The Thai government is responsible for the entire project’s investment and civil works construction, while the Chinese party is in charge of the design and installation of the railway system, mechanical and electrical systems, train operation system, procurement of rolling stocks, and personnel training. Section 2 will stretch for 354.5 kilometers from­ Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai and provide a link from Thailand to Lao PDR and China. At the moment, Section 2 is in the process of generating the detailed design by the Thai party. On 6 July and 30 November 2017, the National Environment Board approved the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for Section 1 and later, on 22 October 2020, approved the details of changes in the project.

In this connection, the Ministry of Transport has proposed the establishment of the Rail Technology Research and Development Agency (Public Organization) to the Thai Cabinet. The objectives are to increase the number of experts in rail systems in Thailand, develop knowledge, and equip Thai personnel with abilities to design, produce and assemble rail parts as well as to maintain the rail systems. In addition, the institute will promote research and development of rail technology and innovations in congruence with international standards, and enable rail technology localization to create value added of 21,600 million baht in Thailand’s rail industry and generate domestic employment income of more than 6,000 million baht per year, which will help to stimulate the economy in line with the government’s policy. If this thrust is achieved, Thai railway standards will be enhanced, allowing for long-term development of national transportation infrastructure. Also, Thailand will become a regional transportation and logistics hub and be provided with new opportunities for business, investment and tourism. The prosperity will be ushered towards communities adjacent to the project’s route, and Thai personnel will receive knowledge and rail technologies from China, leading to the extension of the body of knowledge in the future. Ultimately, a major strategic route to link Thailand, China and Asian countries together will be established.

Reported by: Siriphong Uraweewan

Photos by: Prapaichit Potpan