After years of talks, state-owned rail contractor China Railway Construction Corp (CRCC) has won a $415m contract to build the 40km first segment of the China-Thailand high-speed railway linking Bangkok to Thailand’s border with Laos in the northeast.
CRCC’s two subsidiaries, China Railway 11 Bureau Group and China Railway 23 Bureau Group, will build railway beds, bridges and stations for the section, reports news site China Daily.
When complete, the 900km railway will carry trains at 250km/h from Bangkok to the border town of Nong Khai, where a bridge will link the line to the China-Laos railway now under construction, making it possible to travel by train all the way from Bangkok north through Laos to Kunming, in China’s Yunnan province.
CRCC’s contract is for one part of the first phase of this line, which runs 250km northeast to Nakhon Ratchasima.
The railway was first proposed in a memorandum of understanding signed by the Chinese and Thai governments in 2014. Thailand walked away from talks in March 2016 after the two sides failed to agree a price for the line to Nakhon Ratchasima.
Then, in July 2017, the two governments settled on a price of $5.2bn for the first phase.
Work on a 3.5km section between two stations in Bangkok began in December 2017, but CRCC’s contract is the first substantial tranche to be awarded.
A second high-speed railway, costed at $7.2bn, is also being built from Bangkok down its southeastern coast to the resort hub of Pattaya and on to U-Tapao Airport in Rayong province.
The two high-speed railways will meet at Bangkok’s new Bang Sue Grand Station (pictured above), billed as Southeast Asia’s biggest train station, which is set for completion next year.