Thai cabinet on Tuesday approved the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima high speed railway project under Thailand-China rail cooperation, which is set to start operation in 2021.
The cabinet headed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha approved the proposal of the Ministry of Transport, which is in charge of the railway agency, for the construction of the 252-kilometer-long stretch of the high speed rail project between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima province, with an estimated 179 billion baht (5.2 billion U.S. dollars) in funding, all of which is to be raised by Thai government, according to Vice Minister to the Office of the Prime Minister Kobsak Pootrakool.
There will be six stations from Bangkok's Bang Sue Station to Nakhon Ratchasima along the railway on which trains will run at a maximum speed of 250 kilometers per hour and some 2,815 rai (4.5 square kilometers) of land will need to be expropriated, said Kobsak.
Following Tuesday's weekly cabinet meeting, Thai Prime Minister Prayut himself told reporters that the construction of the rail project between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima will be completed by 2021 and that Thailand will largely benefit from it in the long run.
The Bangkok- Nakhon Ratchasima section is only the first phase of the Thailand-China rail project.
A second phase of the rail project calls for the construction of the rail system from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai province, which is opposite to Lao capital Vientiane from across Mekong River.
The high speed rail is designed to link with China-Laos railway to form a mega railway from southwest China's Kunming to Bangkok.
Prayut reiterated on Tuesday that the second phase or the high speed rail between Nakhon Ratchasima and Nong Khai will be built to link Thailand with Laos and China.
Prayut had earlier exercised his absolute power, better known as Article 44, to get rid of legal snags which had stood in the way of the project implementation to allow Chinese engineers and architects to work for the project without Thai engineer or architect licenses. They are yet to undergo orientation courses scheduled for next month.
He had also said most components of the rail system will be supplied by domestic sources rather than imported, while Thai engineers and others involved in the project have been and will be trained to get well versed with the Chinese technology.