Khon Kaen in talks over light rail project
Local authorities and the private sector in Khon Kaen want construction of its first light rail transit system to begin by the end of the year, said Suradech Taweesaengsakulthai, associate dean of the college of local administration, Khon Kaen University.
Mr Suradech, also the chief of transport vehicle engineering company Cho Thavee Plc, met Transport Ministry officials on Wednesday to discuss Khon Kaen’s demand to build and operate the network itself.
Several provincial officials, including governor Somsak Changtrakul, had campaigned for the takeover of the planned network, to build it and collect the income prior to the meeting at the ministry.
Feasibility studies were completed by the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP) in February. Mr Suradech said Khon Kaen officials had requested the ministry on Wednesday to give them the results of the study, which will be used as a guideline when the project is handed over.
The planned 26km light rail network from Samran to Tha Phra sub-district will involve the construction of 18 to 21 stations. OTP reports state construction of the network will take around two years to complete.
Meanwhile, initial reports produced by Khon Kaen City Development Co Ltd, a think tank in the province, say the network will use 15 trains with three carriages each. Each train will be able to carry up to 180 passengers per trip. The light rail project has been valued at around 15 billion baht.
Deputy Transport Minister Pailin Chuchottaworn, who chaired Wednesday’s meeting, said the ministry has given approval in principle to the province’s request. The OTP and the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) will be consultants to the project.
However, according to Mr Suradech, a formal request for Khon Kaen to take on its own first electric train network must be made with the Interior Ministry, which oversees the transfer of authority from the national government to provincial governments. The request will then be sent to the Transport Ministry for approval.
He said Khon Kaen Transit System Co Ltd, a company of five local governments which is set to oversee the light rail network, had opened bidding for the project, but winners will be announced only after the OTP’s studies are reviewed by the candidates and the company itself.
In a separate development, a contract for a 58.5km tramway in Phuket worth 39 billion baht is being presented to private firms who will be invited to invest, according to the MRTA. The project’s consultant employment contract is set to begin in June.
Bidding for a 35km, 100-billion-baht, three-phase tramway in Chiang Mai will commence next year, the MRTA added.