Thai-Chinese meeting to discuss high-speed train project

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith will head the Thai delegation at the 14th meeting of the Thai-Chinese steering committee for cooperation on development of the Sino-Thai high-speed train project, in Bangkok on Wednesday .

The Cabinet, on August 22, gave the nod to a framework of cooperation between the Thai and Chinese governments to develop high-speed railways from Map Ta Phut to Nong Khai and Bangkok to Kaeng Khoi.

The railway project will feature dual 1.435-metre gauge tracks and cover a distance of 837 kilometres in total.

The Thai and Chinese governments also reached an agreement of cooperation on development of the projects the following day. Under the deal, Thailand will retain ownership rights for the entire project, helping it accelerate commencement of construction by the end of this year.

The Chinese side will be responsible for surveying the project’s proprietary suitability and design as well as join hands with the Thai side for operations, involving electric system, rolling stock and track installation.

According to the Cabinet resolution, the 250km Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima route would be developed in the first phase and its extension across the Isaan region undertaken later. The route requires an investment of about Bt170 billion to Bt190 billion.

New train carriages rolled out in Bangkok

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


RAIL travel for commuters in Bangkok’s southern suburbs entered a more luxurious and safer phase yesterday with the roll-out of the first new carriages in 20 years by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT).

The Chinese-built carriages will operate on the Bangkok to Nakhon Pathom route and will provide customers with more comfort and safety, the SRT says.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha presided over the inauguration ceremony for the new trains yesterday.

“I’m glad to see the development of Thai railways,” he said. “The new model of trains will be considered as the railway of the future.”

Prayut said the government tried to develop double-tracking on rail lines to make better connections for commuting and shipping cargo domestically and internationally.

However, this work would be done gradually so as not to hit the national budget too much.

The prime minister said he would like to see rail lines connected to other transport modes. A concession for taxi boats, for example, was open for interested investors.

He also suggested using old train cars as taxi boats instead of bases for coral reefs.

To be used on Chiang Mai line in Oct

The new train has a maximum of speed of 120 kilometres per hour.

It has a carriage to supply power to other air-conditioned carriages, nine economy carriages for general passengers, one economy carriage for wheelchair passengers, one first-class carriage, and a food supply carriage.

In these cars, there is a CCTV system and Wi-Fi, LED screens and buttons to call staff. The toilets have also been improved in terms of sewage storage.

SRT governor Wuthichat Kalyanamitr said the authority would later introduce the new trains on four express routes – Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Ubon Ratchathani, Nong Khai, and Hat Yai.

“Each route will run two trains a day, serving 900,000 passengers a year.

“This will give the SRT more average income – Bt781 million annually over a 25-year term,” he said.

The new train is part of SRT’s plan to procure 115 new carriages in line with an investment plan in infrastructure projects worth Bt176.8 million, following Cabinet approval of a Bt4.98 billion budget in April 2010.

On July 14, SRT took delivery of 39 carriages as the first batch from China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation and Changchun Railway Vehicles Co Ltd.

After a month of test runs, the Chiang Mai route is scheduled to become the first express line to have the new carriages – in October.


New shuttles bus service tested in capital

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


A new shuttle bus service connecting Bangkok’s Victory Monument area and key bus terminals such as the Southern Bus Terminal, the Mo Chit Bus Terminal and the Ekkamai Mo Chit Terminal, has been tested after passenger vans were banned in the area.

Speaking as chairman of the committee in charge of regulating public transportation vans, Colonel Suwit Ketsri, deputy commander of the Second Cavalry Division King’s Guard, said the test had been arranged to calculate the travelling time for each route’s round trip to provide a proper number of shuttle buses.

The Second Cavalry Division King’s Guard chief of staff, Colonel Sombat Thanyawan, said four buses head to the Mo Chit Bus Terminal, six to the Southern Bus Terminal, and four to the Ekkamai Terminal every 20 minutes.

“Shuttle buses will be added when there are too many passengers,” he said.

Traffic Police deputy commander Colonel Teerasak Suriwong said the trip between Victory Monument to the key bus terminals would normally take about two hours, while the shuttle buses running on the expressway would take about 20 minutes.

The service is in response to the National Council for Peace and Order’s mandate to better regulate traffic in the capital.


Green-light for international bids on monorail in June

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation–30282825.html




THE Cabinet yesterday approved two new straddle-type monorail projects for Bangkok – the Pink Line and Yellow Line – for a combined investment of Bt105.3 billion.

International bids for the projects are expected to be invited in June.

Both projects would be under the consideration process of the public-private partnership (PPP) fast-track scheme, said Transport Minister Arkhom Tempittayapaisith after the Cabinet meeting.

The construction time frame was set for three years and three months from now, meaning the projects could be completed by the end of 2019.

The 29.1km Pink Line will run from Khae Rai to Min Buri with 30 stations. The project’s value is estimated at around Bt53.49 billion.

The 30km long Yellow Line will link Lat Phrao with Samrong, with 23 stations. The investment is estimated at about Bt51.81 billion.

Arkhom said the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) would set up a committee under Article 35 of the PPP law to invite private companies to participate in these projects.

“We expect the international bids for the two monorail projects to commence in three months from now,” said Arkhom.

Under the PPP projects, he said the government would be responsible for land expropriations, which were forecast at Bt6.85 billion for the Pink Line and Bt6.01 billion for the Yellow Line.

The private sector would be responsible for civil engineering work, signals and the rolling stock systems, as well as operations and maintenance.

Private firms that won the bidding would be awarded a 30-year term operating licence. However, they must take all risks – under the PPP Net Cost model – if the number of passengers is not as expected.

State subsidy

“The Cabinet also approved a state subsidy for civil engineering works capped at Bt20.14 billion for the Pink Line and Bt22.35 billion for the Yellow Line projects,” said Arkhom.

He added that the ministry was urged to speed up the two projects and kick-start the construction. As a result, completion could be earlier than the three years and three months expected.

Arkhom said interested private companies would submit their proposals based on the straddle-type monorail technology specified by the authority. The civil engineering construction would be in line with rail technology.

The ticket price is expected to start at Bt15 and plus Bt2.20 per km.

The daily ridership for the Pink Line is estimated at 270,000 persons and the Yellow Line at 247,900 persons.

As for the Sino-Thai high-speed railway project, Arkhom said the government insisted on continuing the scheme under the framework of government-to-government cooperation. The 10th meeting was expected early next month.

Thai-Chinese railway project bogged down in negotiations

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


OPTIMISTS BELIEVE the controversial Thai-Chinese railway project, which has been under negotiations for more than three years, will go ahead despite some hindrances resulting from new conditions initiated by the Thai side.

On November 17, the Thai Cabinet approved a Framework of Cooperation (FoC) agreement with China for development of Thailand’s transport infrastructure from 2015-22. The three-page document has 21 clauses and is written in Thai, Chinese and English.

Under this FoC, both countries agreed to build standard-gauge railways covering the Nong Khai-Nakhon Ratchasima-Kaeng Khoi-Map Ta Phut route and the Kaeng Khoi-Bangkok route with a combined distance of 873 km.

The FoC agreement was signed on December 3, 2015 at the 9th round of negotiations. On December 19, there was a ceremony to mark the start of this ambitious project whose cost is estimated to top Bt500 billion.

But the scheme appears to have hit a snag after new conditions were initiated. Aksornsri Phanishsarn, director of Thai-Chinese Strategic Research Centre, told The Nation several issues remain that are hindering the project.

For example, the project’s overall cost is not yet finalised nor is the interest rate on loans from China.

According to the previous rounds of negotiations, the project would be implemented on an Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) basis whose details have not been finalised either, especially with regards to the issue of local content.

Aksornsri said sources of funding are another issue as the project may consider applying for loans from the newly established Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which is led by China. Citing problems concerning similar projects in Indonesia and Laos, she said the Thai side has taken its time to ensure the project would be successful.

“We’re paying attention to a lot of details [to avoid mistakes],” she added.

Somkid Jatusripitak, the deputy premier in charge of economic affairs, prefers that both countries set up a special purpose financial vehicle (SPV) first in order to pursue this project.

The latest proposal is for China to hold the majority stake of 60 per cent in this SPV, which will be responsible for the entire Bt500-billion investment in this scheme, while the Thai side will take up the other 40 per cent.

Since this project will form a crucial part of China’s One-Belt-One-Road initiative, China should be responsible for the majority of the investment.

The Nong Khai-Nakhon Ratchasima-Bangkok route will be linked with the same railway in Laos and southern China to create a railway link between Asia and Europe.

At this stage, China has reportedly rejected the Thai proposal, as it was prepared only to invest in the railway operation, while the railway infrastructure investment was to be provided by Thailand.

China reportedly has sought to obtain the right to develop properties along the routes near the stations if it took up a larger investment burden, but this was not acceptable to Thailand.

Generally speaking, about 80 per cent of the overall Bt500-billion investment would be for construction of the railway infrastructure, while the railway operations investment would account for only 20 per cent of the entire project cost.

Given that the EPC model might not be feasible for Thailand due to its heavy investment burden, the alternative SPV model seems more likely.

It could be a form of government-to-government joint venture similar to the SPV set up last year for development of the Dawei deep-sea port and industrial estate project in Myanmar, involving the Myanmar, Thai, and Japanese governments as equal shareholders.

Democrat Party deputy leader Korn Chatikavanij has suggested the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model or a 51:49 Thai-Chinese SPV model.