China, Thailand sign agreement on high-speed rail line, set to open in 2026
Published: Mar 29, 2021 08:13 PM
Photo shows train tracks near the construction site of the China-Thailand high-speed railway. Photo: Chu Daye/GT

Photo shows train tracks near the construction site of the China-Thailand high-speed railway. Photo: Chu Daye/GT

Thai transportation authorities and Chinese construction corporations signed a construction agreement for the first phase of the Thailand-China High Speed Rail on Monday, a new step forward for the long-awaited rail project that could link the two Asian countries.

The first 251-kilometer leg connecting the Thai capital, Bangkok, and Nakhon Ratchasima, better known as Korat, in northeastern Thailand, is expected to be completed and open to traffic in 2026, China's national broadcaster CCTV said on Monday.

The total budget for the first phase is about 179 billion baht ($5.85 billion), with the civil engineering contracts accounting for 27.527 billion baht. A consortium that includes Chinese companies will be responsible for the civil engineering work on the first section, according to the report.

In October 2020, Thailand and China signed a key contract for the first phase of the high-speed railway project. The contract, known as Contract 2.3, covers the railway system as well as the electrical, signaling and communication systems, the procurement of train carriages, and staff training.

The planned second phase will link Nakhon Ratchasima with Nong Khai on the border with Laos, which will connect with the China-Laos railway to form a crucial railway artery linking Thailand, Laos and China, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

The 873-kilometer China-Thailand high-speed railway is a flagship project that will help promote the Belt and Road Initiative, in line with upgrading infrastructure construction as well as economic development in Thailand.

The project will eventually connect Kunming city, Southwest China's Yunnan Province with Bangkok.

The project will improve Thailand's infrastructure and enhance connections between Thailand and its neighboring countries, boost regional economic development, and benefit people in Southeast Asia, said the Chinese Embassy in Thailand in an October 2020 statement.

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