Thailand’s Ministry of Transport is forging ahead with a significant second-phase dual-track railway project that promises to enhance regional trade while lowering transportation costs. The project, which will connect the cities of Khon Kaen and Nong Khai, hinges on the results of a rigorous environmental assessment. With the potential to invigorate commerce between Thailand, Laos, and China, this endeavor is a pivotal development in the nation’s infrastructure.
The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) has submitted a budget proposal of more than 50 billion baht (approximately $1.4 billion) to finance this project and three extensions to the Red Line electric train routes. These requests come in response to the directive from the Transport Minister, Suriya Jungrungreangkit, to expedite essential railway undertakings.
The scope of this second-phase project covers a total distance of 167 kilometers and is projected to cost around 29.7 billion baht (approximately $820 million). The authorities plan to initiate online bidding for contractors, with construction set to commence in May of the following year, foreseeing a three-year timeline for completion. This expansion is strategically aimed at bolstering connectivity to Thailand’s northeastern region, complementing the nation’s first high-speed rail (HSR) line, which will initially link Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima.
Deputy Transport Minister Surapong Piyachote has announced that the first phase of the Northeastern HSR is slated for completion by the end of this year. This line will eventually integrate with a proposed HSR network connecting Greater Bangkok’s three main airports: Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi, and U-Tapao airports.
Remarkably, there are also plans to expedite the double-track upgrades for a 45-kilometer stretch of track running from Hat Yai district in Songkhla to Padang Besar in Malaysia. Initially scheduled for 2029, the government is keen on promoting and enhancing cross-border trade by expediting the development of this transportation infrastructure.
Ekarach Sriarayanponse, the head of the SRT Governor’s Office, reported in July steady progress in the construction of the dual-track railway. The SRT has signed contracts for the construction of seven dual-track railway lines and two new railway lines as part of Thailand’s transportation infrastructure development plan for 2015-2022. Two projects have already been completed, with three more nearing completion.
By the year 2029, the SRT’s dual-track railway network is expected to span over 3,000 kilometers, covering more than 50 provinces in Thailand. This significant expansion will double the capacity for train operations, resulting in reduced travel times and more efficient transportation of goods and passengers. It is also anticipated to promote a shift from road to rail transportation due to cost-effectiveness and improve connectivity with neighboring countries.
Moreover, the SRT is in the process of proposing seven additional projects for the second phase of the dual-track railway, including sections like Pak Nam Pho-Den Chai, Jira Road-Ubon Ratchathani, and Surat Thani-Hat Yai Junction. An environmental impact assessment is currently underway for the Chiang Mai section of the dual-track railway.
Upon the completion of the second-phase projects, Thailand’s railway network will undergo a remarkable transformation, paving the way for a more connected and efficient transportation system across the nation.