Established authority in Thailand’s rail network, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) is setting the stage for broad enhancements to its railway system, that would further improve the transport links within the country, specifically in the north-eastern region. The second phase of a significant double-track upgrade from Khon Kaen to Nong Khai is about to take off, as revealed by the Department of Rail Transport director-general, Pichet Kunathammarak.
The proposed works, projected to cost a whopping 29.7 billion baht, are set to transform a 167-kilometre stretch of track into a double-track route. The SRT is gearing up to secure the funds via a loan, which would be repaid by the government via annual budgeting provided by the Budget Bureau. Integrated with governmental plans and mandates from nationally impactful units such as the Budget Bureau and the National Economics and Social Development Council (NESDC), the proposal is expected to be greenlit within the week.
As the second phase’s construction is expected to disrupt existing land structures, the SRT, in a practically anticipatory move, will also seek cabinet approval for the process of land expropriation, estimating this step to be completed by June next year. The bidding process of the project is planned to be open and all you potential contractors can participate in it, with the project beginning in May next year and running for a total of three years.
There’s more to this upgrade than meets the eye: it is a crucial part of connectivity enhancement initiatives for the northeastern region. This will fortify an irreplaceable transport network running parallel to the kingdom’s inaugural high-speed rail (HSR) line. This HSR line, which will initially connect Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima is on the fast track to becoming operational by the end of the year, with Deputy Transport Minister Surapong Piyachote running the show.
The kingdom is also investing in seamless travel convenience with future pathways planning to fuse this HSR line with an envisioned link to Greater Bangkok’s three main airports, Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi, and U-Tapao airports.
Moreover, the government is going the extra mile to foster border trade and prosper the region’s transport infrastructure. In lieu of this, an existing plan to double-track a 45-km piece of the rail pathway between Hat Yai district in Songkhla and Padang Besar in neighbouring Malaysia will be fast-tracked. This undertaking, projected to take a chunk of 7.86 billion baht from the budget, was initially slated for 2029, but looks like it’ll be moved up to this year.
In the coming week, transport officials are poised to present a viable proposal for the Hat Yai-Padang Besar double-track upgrade to the SRT board. A cabinet review is tentatively scheduled for November, setting the ball rolling for a robust and efficient boost to Thai transportation soon.