BTS eyes double-track bid

Construction News Laos

The operator of the skytrain has expressed an interest in being part of the Thai-Chinese double-track rail route joint venture.

The project caught the attention of Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc, or BTS, after Transport Minister ACM Prajin Juntong recently declared that private Thai companies with experience in railway operations would be welcome to join the first-ever joint rail venture between the two countries.

The BTS has a budget of about 30 billion baht for new investment, company director and chief operating officer Surapong Loha-unya said.

He was commenting yesterday on the possibility of his company becoming a prospective co-investor in the project.

The company has extensive experience in electric rail management, having run the elevated rail service in Bangkok for more than 12 years.

The dual-track, 1.435m standard-gauge project along an existing rail route will be a new challenge, Mr Surapong said.

Private Thai companies will be allowed a 30% shareholding in the joint venture. The State Railway of Thai will own 30% while China will hold the remaining 40%.

Thai and Chinese officials have also agreed to adopt the engineering procurement construction (EPC) method in which Thailand is the project owner and China is responsible for certain engineering work and procuring track systems and equipment.

While China, especially, will oversee construction work in mountainous areas, Thai engineers will be responsible for infrastructure work and power supply systems, according to officials.

The venture covers rail routes totalling 867km. They are: Bangkok-Kaeng Khoi, Map Ta Phut-Kaeng Khoi and Nakhon Ratchasima-Nong Khai. From Nong Khai the route will link to a line passing through Laos and on to Kunming in China.