Thailand has rejected a Chinese proposal to increase the top speed of the new double-track railway from Bangkok to the Northeast and the Eastern Seaboard to 250 kilometres per hour from 180 km/h.
Transport Minister Prajin Juntong said on Friday he told Chinese authorities that Thailand would adhere to the original agreement in which the top speed was180 km/h.
Limiting the top speed at that level would save the construction cost while still meeting the cargo transport needs between the two countries, the main objective of the project, ACM Prajin said.
The railway runs from Bangkok to Nong Khai province in the Northeast and Map Ta Phut area of Rayong province in the East.
The cost of the 867-kilometre-long railway with Chinese participation was estimated at 420 billion baht for the top speed of 250 km/h.
The transport minister said the cost for a 180 km/h railway would be far lower although it had yet to be established by how much.
His deputy Arkhom Termpittayapaisith had earlier estimated it at 328 billion baht.
ACM Prajin said he planned to seek cabinet approval for the project on Sept 10 and bids for the construction would be called in the same month. Only companies qualified by Thailand and China can participate, he said.
Thai contractors would build 70% of the route on level terrains while their Chinese counterparts would take care of the remaining 30% that goes through mountains and valleys, the minister said.
In terms of financing, China offered a loan with a flat interest rate but its currency has yet to be determined.
In any case, Thailand would also consider lending proposals from other countries, he said.