Local complaints delay Thailand’s high-speed China link by two years

Thailand’s high-speed railway
The train may have a station at the former Siamese capital of Ayutthaya, burned by the Burmese in 1767 (PlusMinus/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Thailand’s project to build a high-speed railway between Bangkok and China through Laos will be delayed by at least two years after State Railway of Thailand agreed to elevate an 8km section of it following complaints by locals, broadcaster Thai PBS World reports.

The change in response to complaints from people in Nakhon Ratchasima province is expected to raise the cost by $131m and add around 28 months to the schedule.

The decision affects phase one of the scheme, a 250km section from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima. The route has 189km of Chinese-style elevated track, 54km of ground-level track and 8km of tunnels. The cost had been estimated to be $4.7bn.

So far, only one of the 14 contracts that make up the line has been completed.

Thailand’s planned high-speed railway network. The date for the completion of the first phase of the northeastern leg proved to be optimistic (Abs616/CC BY-SA 4.0)

Among the centres that will be linked up by the line are Bang Sue in the Bangkok suburbs, the airport at Don Mueang, the historical capital of Ayutthaya, whose ruins are a major tourist attraction, and Nakhon Ratchasima, which is the third largest city in Thailand.

The question of Ayutthaya station is another sticking point in the project: heritage authorities are objecting to the impact the station will have on the site.

The Thai and Chinese governments signed an agreement in principle to build the 609km line in December 2014. As is usual with schemes of this scale, the project has since suffered significant delays.

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