High speed trains the rage in Thailand

Posted: August 30, 2010 in Thailand

Maybe that’s a little over the top. But it seems like it’s a popular subject all of a sudden. We just had the new airport link open that they are calling a high speed train – at peak speeds of 100 km/hour within Bangkok city limits that is blazing. It connects Makkasan Station in central Bangkok to Suvarnabhumi Airport, sort of a baby project compared to three others I have recently read about.

There is discussion of a Phuket light rail system that seems to be inching forward with a second meeting between Chinese company Ershisanye Construction Group and Phuket government representatives. Details are sparse but it appears to be a substantial system that would connect the Phuket airport and a couple of the main destinations on the island. I’m not sure it qualifies as a high speed train but it is nonetheless interesting.

Next week we have Prime Minister Abhisit visiting China to finalize details of a Thai-Chinese joint venture on a high speed train that would connect Nong Khai with Bangkok and continue on to the south of Thailand. The plan would be to construct a double track railway between northeastern Nong Kai province to the southern town of Su-ngai Kolok. Again, not many details, although I saw one estimate of the price tag at 300 billion baht.

The third high speed train proposal under consideration is between Bangkok and Rayong. It’s estimated that it will cut the travel time from three hours by car to one hour on the train. Maybe it’s a necessity to keep all the details secret so this one also is sketch. One story says it will run from Suvarnabhumi airport to Rayong. Maybe that makes more sense than route into Bangkok city. I wonder if there will be a convenient connection with the airport link.

Actually, my biggest unanswered question is what technology they will use. Will these be all electric trains? And hey, if they are doing light rail in Phuket let’s look at doing a Khao Yai light rail system, too, as I brilliantly proposed in a previous post. It’s a natural here.

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