Thailand looks at China to help the Kingdom developing as quick as possible its high speed train network. China has turned into a model for the development of high speed rail as the country managed in just two decades to grow its network from 0 to 29,000 km, turning the country into a world champion. By 2025, Beijing already announced that it projects its HST network to reach a length of 75,000km.
Thailand recognises the lead that China has today in high speed train developments and is embarked with the country for the development of its first HST project. Divided in two phases, it will cover the 252km distance from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat) and a 355km section linking Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai at the border to Laos. People in Nong Khai will then be able to connect on the high speed train from Laos to Kunming. The Lao-China project is due to be completed by 2022. The cost for the project is estimated at THB325 billion (US$11 billion).
The ambition of China to link most of Asia to its own network is part of its Belt and Road Initiative, a gigantic economic PR exercise which wants to bolster economic and social ties with 65 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe, covering an estimated population of 4.4 billion people.
The HST project in Thailand has been slower to move on due to disputes between both partners. Thailand still remains cautious about Chinese investments as it does not want to give to the partner country the total control of the project or concessions which would jeopardize the local population.
Meanwhile, Thailand looks also at speed up the procedure for building the new EEC high speed train corridor linking the airports of Bangkok Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and Pattaya-U Tapao via Pattaya. The government confirmed that land expropriation will proceed on time to allow the construction of the 170km link from Suvarnabhumi to U-Tapao. Delivery of land is scheduled to proceed within 15 months, extendable to a maximum 24 months, of the contract signing. The new high speed train is due to enter into service in 2024 and would link Suvarnabhumi airport to Pattaya in less than one hour and U Tapao in just an hour time.