Thailand’s high speed railway projects has interest from France now also.
During a meeting with the French ambassador to Thailand Thierry Viteau, Deputy Prime Minister MR Pridiyathorn Devakula told reporters that France was interested in investing in the railways. China, Japan and Germany have also speculated interest in the projects.
Japan and China have signed initial agreements with Thailand for the construction of several dual track railway projects while Germany showed interest in the Bangkok to Hua Hin route.
Mr Pridiyathorn said he told the French ambassador that due to Chinese and Japanese governments being in discussion with Thailand for a long time he had instead asked France to participate in an auction expected to take place this year for an operation licence for urban lines, as France has respectable electric train technology.
The Deputy PM said as the military government’s term is winding up, the government should only consider project bids from countries it had already signed agreements with. “It should not open bids for any new projects available, letting the next governments do that,” he said. Mr Pridiyathorn said if France was still interested in a high speed rail project, it would have to discuss the matter with the next government.
The routes under the China agreement have already begun with the studying of paths for the tracks. Japan also plans to start planning the routes, but had no construction plan yet.
Under the conditions of the agreement with China, the Asian economic powerhouse will give the Kingdom a loan at an interest rate of 2-4% per year to finance the project, hand over the construction technology and allow Thailand to build the routes. “If we think the lending rate is too high and it’s not necessary to borrow. We can raise funds via the infrastructure fund, buoyed by the liquidity in the country,” Pridiyathorn said, adding: “Do not be worried too much, as the projects are considered national assets. The key point is who will construct and operate them.”
Addressing public concern over a lack of transparency in the Thai-China cooperation, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said the deal had yet to be finalised. He added that if the project were found to be too costly, Thailand would not continue.
China and Thailand signed the MoU last December. Construction is expected to commence in 2016 on two standard gauge parallel railways – the 734-kilometre Nong Khai-Nakhon Ratchasima-Kaeng Khoi-Map Ta Phut Port line and the 133km Kaeng Khoi-Bangkok line.
Prayut said the project was overseen by a number of subcommittees in terms of possible investment, routes and benefits to be gained along the routes. The government will also monitor the project to ensure transparency, he said.
Credit: The Nation