China and Thailand reach agreement on high-speed rail link
By Mike Hayes22 September 2016
The Chinese and Thai governments have reached agreement over the first phase of a high-speed rail link in Thailand.
The long-running discussions regarding the 873 km network have largely been stalled by disagreements over costs.
This week, however, following three days of talks with Chinese officials, Thailand’s transport minister, Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said both sides had agreed a price of 179 billion baht (US$ 5.1 billion) for the first phase.
The line will run 271 km, from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima, and will be followed by two more phases: a 355 km section, from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai province, bordering Laos; and a 246.5 km section, from Saraburi province to Rayong province.
As part of the latest agreement, Thailand will pay for all rail construction, while China is set to fund the line’s technical systems.
The agreement marks another important step in China’s One Belt, One Road strategy, which aims to integrate the region into a cohesive economic area.