Major transport projects await handling by new Thai Govt

Construction News

Key issues on transport projects are awaiting decisions by the new government.

A Transport Ministry source said one project was the Thailand-China high-speed rail system on which China is considering a memorandum of understanding submitted by Thailand.

Prapat Chongsa-nguan of the Pheu Thai Party, former governor of the Mass Rapid Transit Authority, appears to be the top candidate to be transport minister. The source said that if Prapat were appointed minister, it was believed that there would be a reshuffle of many senior posts in the ministry.

The MoU will see Thailand own 60 per cent of the high-speed-rail project, while China owns the rest. The project will link Kunming, Vientiane, Nong Khai and Bangkok to the South of Thailand and Malaysia.

If the Pheu Thai Party handles the project, this will gain it popularity in the Northeast, given that the railway could boost the economies of major provinces along the route such as Udon Thani and Khon Kaen.

The party’s campaign promise to create a high-speed rail route from Chiang Mai to Bangkok has already brought it popularity in the North.

The Thai-Chinese high-speed rail project will cost Bt380 billion, of which Bt150 billion will be for the construction of the Nong Khai-Bangkok route. The outgoing Democrat-led government had planned to launch this route in 2016 and the Bt230-billion Bangkok-Padang Besar route in 2020.

The other mega-project announced by Pheu Thai during the election campaign is the land bridge linking the Andaman Sea with the Gulf of Thailand. The ministry source said the government might invite the private sector to invest in the project for a long-term concession.

The new government will also have to continue the expansions of the Bangkok mass-transit systems: the Green Line route of Mo Chit to Saphan Mai, the Red Line route of Bang Sue to Rangsit, the Pink Line of Khae Rai-Pak Kret-Min Buri, the Orange Line of Bang Kapi to Bang Bamru, the Yellow Line of Lat Phrao-Bang Kapi-Samrong, and the Brown Line of Bang Kapi to Min Buri.

The source added that the ministry’s first task would be to signal the boards of state agencies under its purview that they need to resign to make way for new appointments. Most of the current directors of these boards are from the Bhum Jai Thai Party, part of the outgoing coalition.

The source also said Thai Airways International president Piyasvasti Amranand would feel uncomfortable working with the new government, as he was seen as having close ties with the Democrat Party. However, his contract was drawn up in such a way as to shield him from being bullied by politicians.

His performance will be measured by Key Performance Indicators. If his performance meets KPI standards, he could continue in his job. If he is pressured to resign from the post, THAI will have to pay him massive compensation.


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