BANGKOK: Thailand is doing a feasibility study into the proposal for a cross-country railway that will link two ports in the country’s south, a senior government official has confirmed with IHS Maritime.
The plan is for the railway to link Pak Bara in Satun on the Andaman Sea (or west coast) with Songkhla 2 seaport on the Gulf of Thailand, on the country’s east coast, Chula Sukmanop, director-general of Thai Ministry of Transport’s Maritime Department, told IHS Maritime.
Such a land bridge would be a major development and underscore Thailand’s plans to be a regional hub.
“So far the port does not have a rail link so [that is why] there is a study to link the ports,” Sukmanop said.
Similar initiatives have been considered in the past, but the interest of the military government in building more and better railways has revitalised the plan.
“It’s going to be a long-term one,” Chula added of the present initiative.
One timeline has it that the study will be completed later this year, and if viable, the link would be on the transport ministry’s agenda for next year, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported.
If the rail project is viable, the transport ministry will place it on its agenda for next year, Bangkok Post reported as said by Thai transport minister, Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong.
Construction is five to six years off if approval is won, he added.
“The route between Pak Bara and Songkhla is a key economic link. The railways would serve as a route for both public transport and cargo shipments,” ACM Prajin said.
If the link is built, cargo volumes would initially be small, Chula pointed out. Songkhla’s container capacity is between 1 million and 1.5 million, slightly more than Pak Bara’s 1 million benchmark.