The Thai-Chinese railway talks are continuing. It is expected that an agreement will be reached by the end of this month.

 Thai Transport Minister Mr. Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said that talks between Thailand and China over “Contract 2.3” of the Thai-sino high-speed rail project remain inconclusive but are expected to be finalised at an upcoming meeting in China later this month. The 179 billion baht, 252.5 kilometers long railway from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima has been divided into 14 separate contracts.

 Contract 2.3, as it is known, worth about 38.5 billion baht and values the tracks, electronics, machinery and procurement train carriages.

  Mr. Arkhom said several issues in the contract must be resolved, including warranty and fines. He added that China’s several proposals must still be negotiated as no agreement has been reached. According to the minister, China has proposed a one-year guarantee period, but the Thai insists on an international standard of two-year. As for daily fines in case of delivery, China has come up with 0.0001% of the contract amount with a 5% ceiling while the Government Procurement Materials Management Act of 2017 calls for 0.01-0.1% of the contract value with a 10% ceiling. “We have complied with Thai law in the negotiations. China has made a number of proposal which China mostly doesn’t responsibility. We can’t agree to that so the talks continuing. He said that “Contract 2.3” has been included in the Thai and Chinese government will be the agenda of the meeting, which will be held in Beijing from February 27 to March 1, is expected to conclude negotiations at the meeting. The contract is expected to be signed in March.

 On China’s loan program, he said that the Ministry of Finance has warmed up to the 25-year loan which calls for a maximum 3% interest with an interest – free period of 5 years. The Ministry of Finance is responsible for the negotiations. Of the 179 billion baht for the first phase, about 13.2 billion baht will be funded by the government’s budget and the remaining 166 billion baht borrowing. He said that all remaining contracts involving the first phase of construction are expected to be signed in May. Currently, a 3.5-kilometer railway is under construction from Klang Dong to Pang Asok in Nakhon Ratchasima’ Pak Chong District is being built as the first section of the project first phase . The project started in December 2017.

 Regarding the second phase of the railway project, he said that the results of the feasibility study will be submitted to the government, and the Ministry of Communications will seek a budget of 797 million for design studies. The 355-kilometer railway from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai carries estimated costs of 215.7 billion baht. The project will be operational in 2023, when the train will run at a speed of 250 kilometers per hour. After completion, the travel time from Bangkok to Nong Khai will be shortened from 11 hours to 3 hours. Mr. Arkhom, who chairs the committee on the Thai-Sino development scheme, the committee also approved the development project of Ayutthaya as a feeder system for the high-speed rail project. These projects include road expansion schemes for Highway 3053, 309, 3477 and 356, the construction of a new prefectural bus terminal, and a revamp of city bus routes.