Plans to develop a high-speed rail system in Thailand are gather tempo, with a series of routes being considered as part of a programme to boost passenger and freight services and better integrate the transport network with the rest of the region.

Various proposals to develop a high-speed rail system have been raised since the mid-1990s, with one of the first suggestions a line linking Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima in the north-east.

Thai’s Transport Minister has disclosed in mid May 2012, that Thai’s first high speed rail connecting Bangkok and Chaing Mai will be ready for service by 2018.

China has expressed interest in collaborating with Thailand in the construction of the Bangkok-Chiang Mai.

A yearlong feasibility study of the project will be conducted by Chinese expert before commencing the construction of 745 kilometres Bangkok-Chiang Mai high speed rail.

The high-speed rail link would mark a major leap forward for Thailand’s aging single-track rail system.

Currently, Thailand has well over 4,000 kilometres of track, serving most of the country’s main population and economic centres.

The State Railway of Thailand is pushing ahead with a programme of doubling the lines in a number of key areas.

China technology for high-speed trains is highly advanced. China has said it would promote Thailand as a tourist destination among Chinese. It will as well provide convenience of people in the region to travel and enhance a better logistics and transport system.

The Chinese mainland’s length of high-speed railways in operation has now reached 6,900 kilometres, ranking first in the world, and the length of high-speed railways under construction has reached more than 10,000 kilometres, according to the “Seventh World High-speed Railway Conference” in July 2010.

The high-speed railway lines, including the Beijing-Tianjin, Wuhan-Guangzhou, Zhengzhou-Xi’an and Shanghai-Nanjing lines, are all in operation and running at speeds of 350 kilometres an hour, making them the fastest in the world.

According to the plan and current construction progress, the total length of high-speed railways in China will exceed 13,000 kilometres by 2012 and will exceed 16,000 kilometres by 2020.

The source of fund remains to be determined based on public interest whether it should solely come from the Thai government’s budget or a government-to-government cooperation.

Under a total budget of 983.47 billion baht (RM94.14 billion), the Transport Ministry has plans to construct 5 high-speed rail routes, including Bangkok-Chiang Mai, Bangkok-Nong Khai, Bangkok-Ubon Ratchathani, Bangkok-Rayong, and Bangkok-Padang Besar.

Thailand will benefit in several ways from its work with China on the projects. In the immediate future, the construction of large scale high-speed rail networks will stimulate economic growth across the region.

Businesses will also eventually see savings on fuel and transport costs, greater reliability, reduced highway/road congestion and sharply reduced travel times.

Source : Thailand Business News, Pattaya Mail, Globerver, Asia times Online and BERNAMA
(this article written for 1BINA.my)