Thailand will put out construction tenders for the first, $5.5bn phase of its high-speed rail link with China in the fourth quarter of this year.
The announcement was made last week (21 June) by transport minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.
His ministry expects to receive detailed designs for the link from China before approving them in August. When this is done, the bidding process can begin for the 253-km first stage of the route.
This phase will run north east from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima. Once bidding starts on the construction contract, the ministry will begin the design process for the $5.2bn second phase, which will run 355km from Nakhon Ratchasima to Thailand’s border with Laos.
Meanwhile, work is progressing on the Laotian railway that will provide the link between Thailand and China.
On Friday, China Railway Fourth Bureau began installing truss girders for the Yuanjiang Railway Bridge in Yunnan province.
This will carry the railway 237m above the Yuanjiang River. The line expected to be fully operational in December 2021, with a speed of 160km/h.
The Thai government is also proceeding with work to build a separate, $15bn high-speed link between Bangkok and the Chiang Mai, the largest city in northern Thailand. Termpittayapaisith said work on this 672km line, which is being planned in cooperation with the government of Japan, would begin in 2020.
The initial study for the route has been completed and the governments are negotiating the investment model, he added.
A third link, to connect up ports and manufacturing centres on the coast to the east of Bangkok, is also in the works. This $7.2bn, 220km route would join three airports outside the capital with the provinces of the Eastern Economic Corridor: Rayong, Chachoengsao and Chon Buri.
Image: A bridge under construction on the Lao stage of the railway (GreenArea)