The Chinese Embassy in Bangkok issued a statement over the weekend, announcing that next month China and Thailand will sign two contracts to start work on the first phase of the much-hyped railway project with actual construction beginning promptly in October.
This follows a meeting on the railway between representatives of the two countries where details were nailed down and a price agreed upon. Last month, the Thai government formally approved the first stage of the project.
The first phase will see the construction of a 253 km high-speed railway between Bangkok and Nakhom Ratchasima. Previously, the project had been estimated to take four years and cost $5.2 billion with Thailand providing the money and most of the materials while China provided the expertise and supervision.
At the same time, the two sides are still working out the particulars of the second phase of the project which will take the rail line an additional 600 km to Nong Khai on the Laos border.
Pan Asia high speed rail likely to be completed around 2030, but major sections and one China to Singapore line could be functioning in 2027
Once both phases are complete, the railway will link up with a China-Laos rail line that is currently under construction, allowing travelers to make the trip between Bangkok and the Lao capital of Vientiane in just four hours, and travel all the way up to Kunming. Further down the line, the hope is that the railway will be extended southwards to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore as part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative aimed at improving trade and transport infrastructure in the region.
Singapore and Malaysia are already planning a HSR project that would link the Republic to Kuala Lumpur in 90 minutes.
Late 2017: Civil works and tender for private entity overseeing train and rail assets
Late 2023: International and domestic operators tender
2024-2026: Testing and commissioning
By December 31, 2026: Operation begin
Operations for the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur HSR are targeted to begin by Dec 31, 2026.