A number of Chinese construction companies have signed a construction agreement with Thai transportation authorities for the first phase of the long-discussed high-speed railway between the Thai capital, Bangkok, and the Chinese city of Kunming, running through Laos.
The first phase runs 251km from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima in northeastern Thailand, and it is expected to carry 250km/h trains by 2026, the Communist Party of China’s newspaper, Global Times, reported, citing state television network CCTV.Â
It said the total budget for the first phase is about $5.85bn, with the civil engineering contracts accounting for some $880m.
Chinese companies are in the consortium contracted to carry out the civil engineering work on the first section.
When complete, the 870km railway will carry trains from Bangkok to the Thai border town of Nong Khai, where a bridge will link the line to the China-Laos railway now under construction, making it possible to travel by train all the way from Bangkok north through Laos to Kunming, in China’s Yunnan province.
The railway was first proposed in a memorandum of understanding signed by the Chinese and Thai governments in 2014. Then Thailand walked away from talks in March 2016 after the two sides failed to agree a price for the fist phase.
Then, in July 2017, the two governments settled on a price of $5.2bn for the first phase.
Smaller contracts have been awarded to start the first phase. In December 2020, China Railway Construction Corp won a $415m contract to build the first 40km of track from Bangok.
A second high-speed railway, costed at $7.2bn, is also being built from Bangkok down its southeastern coast to the resort hub of Pattaya and on to U-Tapao Airport in Rayong province.
These two high-speed railways will meet at Bangkok’s new Bang Sue Grand Station (pictured above), billed as Southeast Asia’s biggest train station, which is set for completion this year.
Image: Thailand’s two high-speed railways now being built will meet at Bangkok’s new Bang Sue Grand Station, set for completion next year (Poonpun2016/CC BY-SA 4.0)Â