Finally, the State Railway of Thailand and the Charoen Pokphand Group (CP) signed the most expected contract last Thursday to build the high-speed train route linking the three airports of Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao/Pattaya. The project is expected to boost economic development along the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and create more than 100,000 jobs. It would also finally provide a direct rail connection from Bangkok to Pattaya.
The signature of the project has been delayed by over a year due to disagreement on the amount of the investment as well as land issues. But the deal was finally signed last week. CP Group chief executive officer Suphachai Chearavanont -representing the consortium- and acting SRT governor Worawut Mala inked the deal at the Government House last Thursday in presence of Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
The PM declared after the signature that the high-speed train project was crucial for Thailand as it will increase employment, contribute to the expansion of new towns and boost confidence among foreign investors.
The High-Speed Rail Linked 3 Airport Project makes use of existing structures.The project consists of the current Airport Rail Link route of 29 km and a new constructed route of 191 km.
Expansions include the development of two new connecting routes from Phaya Thai station in Bangkok to Don Mueang Airport route as well as the further continuation of the link from Suvarnabhumi airport to U-Tapao airport (Rayong). The new rail link would then offer ease of access to and from the three airports. The final construction will then comprise a rail line of 220 km with high speed train travelling at a maximum speed of 250 km/h.
The urban part of the line within Bangkok will see slower speeds of 160 km/hr. (Don Mueang Station to Suvarnabhumi Station) while intercity line will reach a maximum speed of 250 km/hr from Suvarnabhumi Station to U-Tapao Station. This system will comprise 9 high-speed stations, namely, Don Mueang, Bang Sue, Makkasan, Suvarnabhumi, Chachoengsao, Chonburi, Sriracha, Pattaya, and U-Tapao.
The contract signing also represented cooperation among countries in Asia as it is the first time that Japan and China, which are among the leaders in high-speed train technologies, are co-investing in a megaproject in a third country.
The area development to support the railroad service will be located at Makkasan Station, a gigantic rail station which was due to be Bangkok Airport Express City Terminal and turned into a white elephant. A last track of forest in front of the empty station will be transformed into a CP run city district with the unavoidable mall, condominiums and offices.
The project will take five years to be completed which means that trains would not circulate at least before 2025.