BANGKOK: Thailand’s government and a consortium led by Charoen Pokphand Group signed a contract for one of the nation’s biggest-ever rail projects.
The two sides signed a 225 billion-baht (US$7.4 billion) public-private partnership deal on Thursday to build high-speed rail links between three international airports.
Earlier this year, Thailand awarded the project to the consortium put together by CP Group, which is controlled by the billionaire Chearavanont family. But talks dragged on over the final contract, prompting the administration to set a deadline of Oct 25.
Construction will start in 12 to 24 months and be completed within five years, CP Group Chairman Suphachai Chearavanont said after the deal was inked in Bangkok.
The project will:
- Involve a rail network spanning 220 kilometers (137 miles)
- Have trains running at a maximum 250 kilometers per hour
- Connect the Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports in Bangkok and the U-Tapao airport in Rayong province.
Supachai also said a complex including a train station, mall, hotel, convention center and rail research center will be developed in downtown Bangkok at a cost of about 140 billion baht.
Kanit Sangsubhan, one of the government officials who helps to oversee the rail project, said it could in time be listed on the stock market.
In November last year, CP Group said the rail consortium contained 12 other members:
- China Railway Construction Corp
- Bangkok Expressway & Metro Pcl
- Italian-Thai Development Pcl
- CH. Karnchang Pcl
- Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corp for Transport & Urban Development
- CITIC Group
- China Resources (Holdings) Co
- Siemens AG
- Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane SpA
- Japan Bank for International Cooperation.
The rail network is part of the Eastern Economic Corridor initiative, a 1.7 trillion-baht plan to build infrastructure and develop advanced industries along the country’s eastern coast.