Thailand’s state-owned energy company, PTT, is seeking partners for a joint bid to fund, construct and operate a $7bn high-speed railway along the country’s east coast that would link Bangkok with Pattaya and Rayong via the region’s three main airports.
PTT is Thailand’s largest company by market capitalisation and, if the plan goes ahead, this would be its first venture into railways.
Chansin Treenuchagron, the company’s president and chief executive, said it was in talks with several companies including BTS Group Holdings, which owns a majority stake in Bangkok’s Skytrain system, and the Bangkok Expressway and Metro Public Company.
As well as being part of the consortium bidding for the public-private partnership deal, PTT would be one of the railway’s main customers, using it for logistics in the region, known as the Eastern Economic Corridor (ECC), where it has a heavy presence.
"More than 50% of our group’s operations, including an oil refinery unit, a gas separation unit, power plants and petrochemical production plants – as well as and thousands of our employees – are in the EEC area," Chansin said. "So, we think if we won the right to operate the train that links the area, it will help cut costs and create value to our assets and our supply chain."
The plan for the east coast line
A PTT bid for the 220km line has been under discussion for some time. In March of last year company signalled an interest in investing in large projects in the EEC, and the board voted to explore the possibility of a bid in April of this year.
Reuters reported in August that the company said it was "keen to invest" $11.9bn in business opportunities, including the EEC rail scheme.
A number of other bidders have expressed an interest in the scheme, including a joint venture between the Japanese and Chinese governments and their countries’ champion builders (see "further reading").
The deadline for submitting bids is 12 November. So far, 31 companies around the world have expressed an interest in taking part.
Image: The rail line would be PTT’s first foray into rail (PTT)