BTS keen to buy into dual-track railway project

Construction News

Firm says investment will save govt B70bn

BTS Group Holdings Plc has proposed a plan to invest in the Khon Kaen-Laem Chabang dual-track railway.

It says its investment could save the state budget 70 billion baht.

The plan was unveiled as BTS chairman Keeree Kanjanapas met Transport Minister Prajin Juntong on Friday.

Citing the plan, ACM Prajin said BTS will wholly invest in the construction of the 500-km route, the installation of signal systems and the purchase of locomotives and carriages.

The company also asked to jointly handle the train operation and goods shipment service with a proposed return given to the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), the minister said.

If the proposal is approved, the government’s 70-billion-baht budget earmarked for construction of the rail route could be used for other projects, the minister said.

BTS also asked for a power grid to be installed to support the SRT’s move to replace diesel locomotives with electric ones from 2017 as well as acquiring locomotives and carriages for cargo trains, he said.

“All the investment would be under the public-private partnership (PPP) model, whereby a private firm will jointly invest,” the minister said.

“BTS will have to present the details of the partnership model and each investment project to the ministry by June 25, particularly the cargo train timetables, which the SRT and the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning still consider to be unclear.”

To proceed with the project, there could either be a bid called or the company’s proposals could be considered, he said.

The ministry, he said, had earlier asked BTS to help develop affordable housing for SRT staff on the agency’s 360 rai of land in the Phahon Yothin area’s Kilometre Marker 11 since the area is now crammed with dwellings and shops and the SRT is constrained with its budget for development.

The company said it is an achievable project which it wants to carry out, the minister said.

Under the project, buildings will be constructed to accommodate around 8,500 households.

Apartments will also be built in the area for people to rent with moderate prices, ACM Prajin said, adding that a public park will also be constructed.

A commercial zone consisting of hotels, shopping malls and hospitals will also be built to boost revenue to offset the government’s spending.

The project must be designed to give people the convenience of connecting with public transport, he said.

Mr Keeree said BTS is interested in proceeding with various projects of the Transport Ministry because they are deemed beneficial and in line with the government’s policy.

The government wants private companies to jointly proceed with the projects because the process will be faster, Mr Keeree added.