Thailand’s new East to West railway line

20 September 2020: This week the State Railways of Thailand announced the start of a year long study of the proposed construction of a major new railway line between Tak and Nakhon Sawan.

Tak to Nakhon Sawan Railway Line

Currently the border town of Tak is not connected to Thailand’s Railway Network and the only way to travel to and from Tak’s busy border crossing with Myanmar is by road. Nakhon Sawan is located on Thailand’s Northern Railway Line running from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Building the new railway line will mean that passengers and freight from the Tak border with Myanmar will be able to join the Northern Line in Nakhon Sawan and thereafter travel by rail across Thailand and to the borders with Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia.

Nakhon Sawan Railway Station
Nakhon Sawan Railway Station

The new railway line will run 250 km and cost an estimated 9.6 Billion Thai Baht. The Thai Government is currently giving serious thought to undertaking major infrastructure projects in Thailand as a way of stimulating the economy providing employment to people who have lost their jobs as a consequence of the pandemic and its devastating effect on International tourism. There is a good likelihood that this project will become a reality.

East to West Economic Corridor

The Tak to Nakhon Sawan railway line is part of a larger project called the ‘East to West Economic Corridor’. The better known Pan Asia Railway Network is a North to South project linking Kumming in China to Singapore. The concept behind the East to West Economic Corridor is to create a rail connection between Myanmar and Southern Laos. Laos itself is not the economic market which the designers of the East to West Economic Corridor want to tap into. The effectiveness of the project is dependent on further railway track being build across Southern Laos to connect to Vietnam, which is a large nation with a productive industrial base and massive agricultural sector. As well as transporting goods, travel by train to Southern Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar would also become a realistic alternative to air travel if this project is completed.

Train arriving into Nakhon Sawan
Train arriving into Nakhon Sawan

The East to West Economic Corridor Project is split into three sections:

  • Tak to Nakhon Sawan – 250 km
  • Nakhon Sawan to Ban Phai – 291 km
  • Ban Phai to Nakhon Phanom – 355 km

The study started this week into the Tak to Nakhon Sawan Railway Line is therefore the very start of this exciting new project to promote international train travel in South East Asia.

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