The government on Tuesday made some changes to its high-speed development plan, adding a Bangkok-Rayong route and splitting the Nong Khai-Map Ta Phut route into two — Nong Khai-Nakhon Ratchasima and Nakhon Ratchasima-Bangkok-Map Ta Phut.
In July, the National Council for Peace and Order approved a 2.4-trillion-baht infrastructure plan through 2022 covering dual-track rail, electric trains, highways, waterways and airports.
Two high-speed rail routes costing a combined 741 billion baht would link Thailand with southern China.
The Nong Khai-Map Ta Phut route would cover 737 kilometres and cost 393 billion baht, while the Chiang Khong-Phachi route would be 655 km and cost 349 billion.
Construction was scheduled to last until 2021.
But the cabinet yesterday said the government now opted instead to build three routes of 1.435-metre standard gauge with speeds of up to 180 km/h.
They are Nong Khai-Nakhon Ratchasima (355 km), Nakhon Ratchasima-Bangkok-Map Ta Phut (512 km) and Bangkok-Rayong (193 km).
Chaiwat Thongkhamkhun, deputy director of the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP), said the new routes would first undergo feasibility and design studies.
These should take about a year to complete, he said.
Land expropriation is scheduled for 2016, while construction will start three or four years from now.
The cabinet also yesterday acknowledged an OTP proposal for an eight-year infrastructure development programme from 2015-22.
The Transport Ministry is now in the process of improving details of the government’s 2.4-trillion-baht infrastructure development plan.
Mr Chaiwat said the first 68 billion baht was earmarked for investment under the government’s infrastructure plan in the fiscal-2015 budget.
The cabinet yesterday stuck with the five-fold strategy covering railways, mass-transit development in Bangkok, land transport linking major production bases nationwide and in neighbouring countries, water transport and air transport, he said.
The urgent projects are aimed at improving connections within the country’s transport network including gateways to border trade, major cities upcountry and Bangkok.
Mr Chaiwat said six dual-track rail routes with a total construction budget of 117 billion baht would be implemented first.
They are the Jira junction in Nakhon Ratchasima-Khon Kaen (185 km); Prachuap Khiri Khan-Chumphon (167 km); Map Kabao in Saraburi-Nakhon Ratchasima (132 km); Nakhon Pathom-Hua Hin (165 km); Lop Buri-Pak Nam Pho in Nakhon Sawan (148 km); and Hua Hin-Muang districts in Prachuap Khiri Khan (90 km).