The Thai government has given assurances that it will carry on with a $10bn joint railway construction project with China, saying the Bangkok-Kaeng Khoi-Khorat section will begin to take shape within this year.
Following speculations that the government has cancelled its planned cooperation with China on railway development, deputy government spokesperson Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd (pictured) has rejected the information as "false", reported the National News Bureau of Thailand.
In February the proposed scheme hit difficulties when the Thai government demanded lower interest rates on the 20-year loan and took issue with China’s reported plan to manage the new lines.
Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly approved a draft memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China in December 2014 to jointly build the $10.64bn rail project, part of a long-term scheme to develop the country’s transport infrastructure.
This week Sansern Kaewkamnerd disclosed that both sides have agreed on the China-proposed construction of a medium-speed system on the Nong Khai-Khorat-Kaeng Khoi-Map Ta Phut section and Kaeng Khoi-Bangkok section, totalling a distance of 873km.
Kaewkamnerd said the new system will connect with another Chinese-Lao rail line via Nong Khai and Vientiane.
The project is set to be discussed at the fifth meeting of the Thai-Chinese Joint Committee late this month while route survey and cost assessment will be finished within August as scheduled. Construction is expected to commence on the Bangkok-Kaeng Khoi-Khorat section by the end of this year.
Maj Gen Sansern insisted that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has a clear policy on forging cooperation with neighbouring countries in order to develop the Thai railway system and raise the regional logistics efficiency, reported the national news bureau.