Japan ‘keen on train investment’

Japan has promised to enter the bidding to build a 193.5km high-speed railway for the Bangkok-Rayong Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) with stops at all three area airports – Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and U-tapao. Bangkok Post file photo shows Chinese model of a high-speed train.

TOKYO – Japan has shown keen interest in joining the bidding for the construction of the 193.5 km Bangkok-Rayong high-speed train project that will link the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and three international airports, says Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

The high-speed route is a significant EEC project, he said. The project is in the process of conducting a feasibility study and developing a public private partnership (PPP), Mr Somkid added Wednesday at the “Thailand Towards Asian Hub” seminar, attended by about 1,200 Japanese investors in the Japanese capital Tokyo.

The deputy prime minister said the Bangkok-Rayong high-speed train, worth 158 billion baht, will link Suvarnabhumi airport in Samut Prakan, U-Tapao airport in Rayong and Don Mueang airport in Bangkok.

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Mr Somkid, who is in charge of the country’s economic policy, said the bidding process for the high-speed train project is expected to start at the end of this year.

Mr Somkid also assured Japanese investors that the Thai government will put every effort into speeding up related infrastructure development under the EEC, saying a total investment of around 1.5 trillion baht in the EEC project is expected within five years.

He said he also told Japanese investors that investment in other infrastructure projects, including mass transit, dual-track rail and water development, are expected to reach US$43 billion in the next five years.

He said he told them the Thai government had agreed to build another high-speed rail line linking Ayutthaya province, a key location for Japanese investment, with the EEC project. This high-speed rail line was earlier proposed by Japan.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency has offered loans to Thailand for the planned construction of this high-speed rail line, he said. However, it will be considered later whether the investment will be in the form of a PPP, Mr Somkid said.

He said the Transport Ministry is studying construction proposals for this rail line, and that he would ask the ministry to see what progress has been made on Monday.

In addition, he said he was informed by Japanese authorities that Tokyo is conducting a feasibility study for the planned construction of the Bangkok-Chiang Mai high-speed train project which will use Shinkansen technology.

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