2nd May 2016: Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met with Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at Government House in Bangkok.
Japan has previously committed to two new Thai railway projects
One of the main items on the agenda for discussion was Japan’s planned investment in two new railway projects in Thailand:
- Project 1: A high speed link from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (635 km)
- Project 2: A double track line from Kanchanaburi to Laem Chabang and Aranyaprathet (575 km)
Project 2 is designed to integrate with the wider Pan Asia Railway Network project being promoted by ASEAN. For those of you not familiar with the Pan Asia Railway Network, the ambitious plan is to create three routes from Kumming in China to Singapore connecting all 7 ASEAN member states in mainland Asia with China.
Problems with the two projects
Both joint investment projects have moved very slowly since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for the project by Thailand and Japan in May 2015. Nothing appears to have happened since then. According to Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith studies of the two routes are not expected to be fully completed until the end of 2016. When the studies are done then the difficult part starts which is purchasing the land to build the railways.
Delays aside, the Japanese Government still appears willing to accept public reassurances from PM Chan-o-cha that the two railway projects are still going to move forward.
Analysis of the Proposals
Here at Thailand Trains we imagine that the Thai Government is feeling under pressure at the moment to get these two deal ‘sealed’, particularly after the recent collapse of the railway funding deal with China for a North to South rail corridor.
Fingers crossed Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith can get the study completed on time and move forward with the compulsory land purchase before the Japanese Government switches its investment to one of the other planned railway projects in South East Asia. Myanmar, Vietnam and even Laos are also seeking large investments from regional partners.