Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima High Speed Project: Phase 1 Approved

Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima High Speed Project: Phase 1 Approved

On 11 July 2017 the 253 km long Bangkok – Nakhon Ratchasima High Speed Railway (HSR) project, to be built in collaboration with China, made a significant step forward with the Thai Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha finally approving Phase 1.

Construction of the standard gauge dual track line, set to start operation in 2021, will be funded entirely by the Thai government according to Vice Minister for Office of the Prime Minister Kobsak Pootrakool. Mr. Kobsak also informed reporters that fares will be in line with current services: the starting fare will be 80 baht, plus 1.80 baht per km.

Trains will run at a maximum speed of 250 km/h, cutting the current travel time from over four hours to less than 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Phased construction is expected to be carried out as follows:

Phase 1 – Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima
Phase 2 – Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai (just across the Mekong River border from Laos)
Phase 3 – Kaeng Khoi (Sara Buri) to Map Ta Phut (Rayong)

Phase 1 will see the construction of 6 stations (Bang Sue in Bangkok, Don Mueang, Ayutthaya, Saraburi, Pak Chong and Nakhon Ratchasima) plus a maintenance depot in Chiang Rak Noi.

Mr. Prayut reportedly confirmed after the cabinet meeting that the HSR line will link to the China – Laos high speed railway to complete a line running all the way from Kunming in China to Bangkok. Mr. Prayut also stated that most rail system components will be supplied by domestic sources rather than imported, and that Thai engineers involved in the project will be trained on the Chinese technology.

Expectations are that the new railway line will be extended also southwards to Kuala Lumpur (and hence to Singapore).

Writer: John Carlo Ottaviani

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