Bangkok, Tokyo to sign MoU on joint railway deal

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Thailand and Japan will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) next week on the joint double-track railway development.

The MoU is part of three railway projects scheduled for discussion during a visit by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak to Japan between Nov 25 and 28, permanent secretary for transport Chatchai Thipsunawi said yesterday.

The meeting with the Japanese delegation will push ahead the construction of a 547km rail route from Ban Phu Nam Ron at the border in the western province of Kanchanaburi to Sa Kaeo’s Aranyaprathet district in the East, which is expected to start early next year.

A new railway will be built to link Kanchanaburi and the planned deep-sea port in Dawei of Myanmar.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s existing one-metre gauge will be improved, for transportation from Kanchanaburi to Laem Chabang, the country’s major sea port and industrial complex in Chon Buri, and Sa Kaeo, which borders Cambodia, according to the construction plan.

Thailand and Japan will also work on a joint investment plan in the railway operation.

Transport development and improvement of the tracks are key to realising the Kanchanaburi-Sa Kaeo route, said Mr Chatchai.

Mr Somkid, head of the government’s economic team, also plans to talk to his Japanese counterpart on possible joint investments in two other railway projects.

They are the 715km Bangkok-Chiang Mai high-speed train and the 718km rail route from Mae Sot border district of Tak to Mukdahan, the border province opposite Laos. Japanese experts are studying both projects.

The study of the Tak-Mukdahan line, also known as the upper East-West corridor, has proceeded to a point where the experts are considering whether the tracks should be one metre or 1.435-metre gauge.

As for the Bangkok-Chiang Mai line, a site survey is being carried out and the project may be approved in June next year, Mr Chatchai said.