The State Railway of Thailand and the Charoen Pokphand Group-led consortium are signing the contract for the high-speed train project this October 25.
The much-anticipated high speed railway will link Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and U-Tapao international airports. The new SRT board was approved by the Thai cabinet yesterday.
Deputy PM Anutin Charnvirakul says he is confident the contract will now be signed, adding that he has already met with Supachai Chearavanont, CEO of the CP group, and assured him of the government’s full cooperation and support.
The Charoen Pokphand-led consortium won the bid to develop the 224-billion Baht high-speed train infrastructure as a signature project for the government’s flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) high-tech investment hub. The train service is expected to be operational in 2024 (drum-roll???).
However, the CP-led consortium raised concerns over land expropriation and eviction problems and asked for the government to share the risk on this issue. The Transport Ministry has already rejected the request putting the onus on CP as part of the proposal.
Mr. Anutin explained that, in any large infrastructure project involving expropriation of land, it is usual for the government or state agency not to be able to hand over the land to the contractor all at once. In such cases, the contracted completion date can be moved back.
He said the CP-led consortium should proceed with the high-speed train project without further delay because 70% of the land is ready to be handed over.
Meanwhile, the deputy PM admits that he didn’t know why the entire SRT board resigned en masse, delaying the signing of the contract, and denied that he had put pressure on the board to quit. He also denied that Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, member of the Bhumjaithai party, objected to the SRT board’s mass resignation because the latter wanted the contract to be signed hurriedly.
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