PLANNED high-speed and double-track rail projects to serve the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) are expected to begin services in 2023, with an investment value of Bt296.42 billion alone flagged for the high-speed train service, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) said.
Up to Bt214.3 billion of this amount would be spent on getting the high-speed service up and running, with Bt4.99 billion put to compensation for land expropriation covering 400 rai along the route and the rest allocated to the development of commercial areas around the main station, Chulathep Chittasombat, director of the centre that oversees railway maintenance projects, said at a press conference yesterday.
Chulathep said the two infrastructure projects would equip the flagship economic zone with the rail transport it needs for freight and people.
The terms of reference for the high-speed train project – connecting the Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airports – are being drafted on the expectation for bidding to be opened this year and construction to start in 2019.
“The plots of land planned for expropriation will account for only 5 percent of the total construction area, of which 95 percent will cover the existing rail route,” Chulathep said.
The Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning is conducting a feasibility study for construction of an Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Chachoengsao province to facilitate exports. Inspection and packing would be done before the goods reach ports in the EEC area.
Regarding the second phase of the high-speed train and double-track rail services that will connect industrial estates in the EEC, the SRT is requesting for additional funds to hire consultants, at about Bt200 million for each project, to conduct studies and project design.
The bidding terms for the high-speed project will be announced in July on the expectation for bid submissions in February next year, with the bid winner likely to be announced in May next year. The high-speed project’s full services would start in 2023.
An anonymous source from Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc said that the company is interested in the high-speed project and would assess whether to proceed with a bid based on factors such as expense, the cost of funding, projected income and the break-even period.
“Once the bidding conditions come out, the figures must be taken for evaluation and discussions will be held with a partner on the return on investment. If it’s satisfactory, all the parties will join up in a bid,” the source said.
Piyasvasti Amranand, the chairman of PTT Plc, said that the board had approved PTT Group’s planned purchase of the TOR for the high-speed project with the aim of a conducting a feasibility study into it. No consideration yet had been to given to company’s seeking of a partner for joint investment.
Prasert Marittanaporn, director of CH Karnchang Plc, said that the group was interested in joining the bidding for the high-speed train, citing its readiness to proceed in the construction business.
“The company is ready and interested to bid. But the source of financing may need to be given more consideration, given the relatively high investment,” Prasert said. “It could be an investment on our own or a joint investment with a partner. We have had some talks with potential partners.”
Separately, Deputy Transport Minister Pailin Chuchottaworn yesterday said that, after having chaired a brainstorming session on the creation of an organization for the management of the Thailand-China high-speed rail service, eight financial advisers registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission were invited to bid for a model of the establishment of such an organization. The deputy minister cited the advisers’ expertise in financial management and real estate development.
Initially, the organization may be established as a company to be listed on the stock exchange for fundraising and more management flexibility, he said. It must be a newly established unit owned and controlled by the public sector, independent from the SRT, which owns the high-speed train project, the deputy minister added.
“These financial advisers will present the model of the organization within one month and then, a subcommittee will select the best proposal,” Pailin said. “The winner will be assigned as the project’s financial adviser in return as these financial advisers will conduct the study for us at no cost. The organization is expected to be set up this year.”
The eight financial advisers are Kasikornbank, Siam Commercial Bank, United Overseas Bank (Thai), Finansa Securities, RHB, Ploenchit Capital, Avantgarde Capital, and PricewaterhouseCoopers FAS