Thai-Sino rail contract bids to kick off by year end

The latest model of the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway scheme's first section (Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima) was put on display last December. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Transport Ministry officials have confirmed that auctions for the construction contracts for all sections of the first phase of the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway project will commence by the end of the year, despite unsettled negotiations between both countries.

The 179-billion-baht, 252.5km-long phase from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima, has been split into 14 separate contracts, which will use design and construction blueprints from China.

State Railway of Thailand acting governor Voravuth Mala said Wednesday the 25th official Thai-Chinese high-speed railway meeting, held earlier this month in Beijing, had mainly discussed the project's railway, electricity systems, machinery to be used in the network's construction and operation and staff training programmes, as part of the mega-project's so-called "contract 2.3", worth a total of 54 billion baht.

Mr Voravuth said  Thailand had told China to come up with a detailed bill of quantities to clearly outline the expenses, and submit the necessary documents to Thai authorities within two weeks.

"We stand firm that a memorandum of understanding [for the remaining firstphase contracts] will be signed by both countries before year end," he said.

The SRT is also currently drafting conditions for auctions to find a consulting firm which will help in the design and planning stage of the project's planned second phase from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai, he added.

Mr Voravuth added that a consulting firm will be appointed by the end of the year, while actual studies may commence next year, supervised by Chinese officials.

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith earlier said Thailand is "ready" to pay for the construction of the entire Bangkok-Nong Khai route, now estimated to be 606km-long. However, discussions are still ongoing on the official investment plan.

China has already submitted designs for all 14 sections of the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima route. The source said authorities are reviewing parts of the blueprints which need more explanation and formal details, such as construction materials to be used and a comprehensive working timeline.

Construction of the first 3.5km section from Klang Dong to Pang Asok in Nakhon Ratchasima's Pak Chong district officially began last December.

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