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Thailand and Laos open first rail link: officials
4 March 2009
Agence France Presse

Thailand and Laos on Thursday officially opened the first rail link connecting the two counties over a bridge spanning the Mekong River, a step towards a regional dream of connecting Asia by rail.

Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presided over the launch ceremony, boarding the first train from the Thai border town of Nong Khai which travels along 3.5 kilometres (2.1 miles) of track to Thanaleng in Laos.

From Thanaleng it is still another nine kilometres to the Laotian capital Vientiane but both sides hailed the inauguration as a key step towards opening up a regional route ferrying goods and passengers.

"The inauguration of this train link today (Thursday) will enhance transportation with our neighbouring country," Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said in the opening speech.

The track over the Friendship Bridge took 20 months to complete and was funded by Thailand at a cost of about 197 million baht (5.5 million dollars). Two passenger trains will run the 30-minute return trip each day.

Laos foreign affairs spokesman Khenthong Nuanthasing said the track was the first rail link connecting landlocked Laos with the outside world.

"The railway is very important for the country," he said a day ahead of the ceremony. "As a way out of the country in the past there were only trucks, which are very expensive for exports. The cost of transportation will be less."

The link is part of a plan conceived in the 1960s to connect Asia with a continuous railway stretching west to Turkey and Russia and east to Vietnam and South Korea.

Decades of conflict and poverty stalled the plan but the breakup of the Soviet Union and the opening up of China have revived the dream, and in November 2006, 18 Asian nations agreed to integrate the continent by rail.

The UN-backed Trans-Asian Railway route now has nearly 74,700 kilometres of functioning track serving 29 countries, and United Nations officials have said they hope to complete the railway in 10 to 15 years.

1,355 Posts
Great development, and about damn time! This line has been in some stage of development for a lot more than 20 months, so happy to see it finally functional...

Though I guess it's still pretty much only useful for freight for now, still some way to go before it reaches Vientiane.

Liberty, Equality, Frate
114,375 Posts
(SRT) State Railway of Thailand


SRT was founded as the Royal State Railways of Siam (RSR) in 1890. Construction of the Bangkok-Ayutthaya railway (71 km), the first part of the Northern Line, was started in 1891 and completed on May 23, 1892. The Thonburi-Phetchaburi line (150 km), later the Southern Line, was opened on June 19, 1903.

The Northern Line was originally built as standard gauge, but in September 1919 it was decided to standardize on meter gauge and the Northern Line was regauged during the next ten years. On July 1, 1951, RSR changed its name to the present State Railway of Thailand.

In 2005 SRT had 4,070 km of track, all of it meter gauge. Nearly all is single-track, although some important sections around Bangkok are double or triple-tracked and there are plans to extend this.

Liberty, Equality, Frate
114,375 Posts
ARL Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link ‎

The Suvarnabhumi Airport Link is an airport rail link under construction from Suvarnabhumi International Airport to the planned City Air Terminal in Makkasan, Bangkok, Thailand.

Construction of the line started in 2005. As of October 2006, the line is 44% complete and is expected to be ready for service in October 2008. A second stage, continuing along the BERTS alignment from Phayathai north to Don Muang (site of Don Muang International Airport), is also planned.

The line will be 28.6 km long and is elevated for most its length, running above existing right-of-way, with a short at-grade connection to the airport. Both non-stop Suvarnabhumi Airport Express services (known informally as the Pink Line) and stopping Suvarnabhumi Airport City Line services (the Red Line) will be operated. Siemens Desiro trainsets, capable of a speed of up to 160 km/h, will be used, with Express journeys taking 15 minutes and Commuter trips 27 minutes.

The first stage line


Liberty, Equality, Frate
114,375 Posts

Liberty, Equality, Frate
114,375 Posts
SRT Light Red Lines

SRT awards rail contract

Bangkokpost 30/09/2008

The SRT board also yesterday approved the selection of the Unique-Chun Wo joint venture as the contractor for the civil engineering of its 15km Red Line railway's from Bang Sue to Taling Chan.

Although the joint venture, which comprises SET-listed Unique Engineering and Construction Plc and Hong Kong's Chun Wo Construction & Engineering Co, was the only qualified contender, the SRT selected it because it would otherwise have to raise the median price by two billion baht in a fresh bidding contest, Mr Yuthana said. He expects the contract to be signed next month.

Earlier, a construction operator which was disqualified from bidding filed a petition with the SRT opposing the committee's selection of the Unique-Chun Wo joint venture since there was only a single bidder for the project.

In the meantime, the SRT board delayed consideration on the demand from Japan Bank for International Co-operation (JBIC) for the SRT to clear encroachments from the construction sites eyed for the Red Line's 26km section from Bang Sue to Rangsit before the construction commences.

Mr Yuthana said he would ask the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning and the Finance Ministry if the lending condition was acceptable.

The Japanese bank had never before raised such a condition, he added.


SRT signs contract to construct Red Line

Bangkokpost 15/12/2008

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) has signed a contract for the construction of its Red Line route with a Thai-Hong Kong joint venture.

SRT governor Yutthana Thapcharoen said the 8.7-billion-baht contract was signed with the Uniq-Chunwo joint venture on Friday for the construction of the 15-kilometre Red Line from Bang Sue to Taling Chan.

Construction will start next year. The joint venture is made up of Uniq Engineering and Construction Plc and Hong Kong's Chunwo Construction & Engineering Co.

The SRT also signed a contract on Friday with Central Pattana Plc (CPN) to renew the lease for the agency's 47.22-rai plot at the intersection of Phahon Yothin and Vibhavadi Rangsit roads. The SRT will receive a total of 21.2 billion baht over the 20-year lease period from Central Group.

Meanwhile, applications for candidates to run in the election for governor of the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) will be accepted from today.

Soithip Traisut, the director-general of the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning and the chairperson of the selection committee, said the panel has finished setting the qualifications for the MRTA governor's position and will accept applications from today.

The position is open following the resignation of Prapat Chongsanguan, who quit his post to run in the election for Bangkok governor in October. However, he finished a distant second behind Apirak Kosayodhin, who resigned only weeks after securing his second term to fight corruption charges.

Pics by Napoleon,

Bang Son Station

Pics by Napoleon,


Rama 6 Bridge

Red line pillars is under construction.


Liberty, Equality, Frate
114,375 Posts
SRT rehabilitation plan approved

By The Nation 3/06/2009

The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the State Railway of Thailand's rehabilitation plan and a framework for state-enterprise regulation.

For the SRT's rehabilitation, two wholly owned subsidiaries will be established within 30 days and begin operations within 180 days. One will operate the Airport Rail Link, while the other will seek the best deals for SRT assets, said Deputy Prime Minister Korbsak Sabhavasu.

The government will be responsible for investment in rail infrastructure and forging solutions to the SRT's mounting debts. Future revenue of the SRT and its subsidiaries will be used to repay the government for its financial assistance, he said.

With the SRT winning more private investment, the number of carriages will double within six years, as will the amount of cargo being transported. Passenger traffic will increase 25 per cent. Returns from assets will increase Bt11 billion in the next 10 years.

The SRT expects to clear all of its debts within a decade, Korbsak said.

Liberty, Equality, Frate
114,375 Posts
China may aid Thai rail development

THE NATION Beijing Published on June 26, 2009

The government will soon explore in greater detail ways to work with its Chinese counterpart in developing Thailand's rail network and connecting it to neighbouring countries.

"The Chinese government is willing to give its support for infrastructure development in Southeast Asia, but that also depends on whether they can find any opportunities.

"Now we have such an opportunity at hand, so we don't hesitate to offer it," Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Wednesday.

After his formal meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in the Chinese capital, Abhisit told the press that both countries had agreed to boost their cooperation to develop rail transport nationwide and also connect the system with Asean members.

China's support could be in the form of technology or capital.

"It's possible to make a joint venture together. The format of public-private partnership [PPP] can be one of our choices," he said.

The National Economic and Social Development Board will be responsible for revising the regulations that are obstacles to implementing the PPP scheme.

He declined to disclose the time frame for the NESDB, but expressed confidence that the changes would not hamper negotiations with China.

Deputy Premier Suthep Thaugsuban and Transport Minister Sophon Saram are expected to go to China and follow up on the details in one or two months, he said.

Wen accepted Abhisit's invitation to join the Asean meeting in October. Wen's official visit could be scheduled before or after the Asean meeting, Abhisit said.

Shi Dahua, chairman of China Railway Group (CRG), the largest integrated construction group in China and Asia, met Abhisit yesterday to enquire about the policy on railway construction.

"I focused on two things - the rail routes and types of investment. It's good that this company showed interest in our rail-transport development projects and it's ready for any form of investment," Abhisit said.

The company showed flexibility in meeting the government's requirements, including the ratio of local employment and the transfer of railway know-how to local staff.

Abhisit also invited the company to visit Thailand to see what it can do and continue its dialogue with the government in one or two months.

CRG has built railroads in China, Vietnam and Africa.

As this firm mainly employs technology from Japan and Germany, it could develop the railway system in Thailand efficiently, he said.

Sorayut Phettakul, vice industry minister, said the Board of Investment (BoI) had released the new types of projects, including infrastructure development, that can apply for tax incentives at the year's start. The BOI plans to liaise with the Transport Ministry to hold the bidding for investors keen on the government's mega-projects.

"We might not choose the cheapest project any more. We plan to consult with Prime Minister Abhisit to give more weight to those projects using local content and creating jobs for our people, even though their projects will be more costly," he said.

This policy has already been tabled with the National Logistics Committee and the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning.

The proposal will be submitted again at the next National Logistics Committee meeting, chaired by the premier.

Abhisit said he had also talked with Wen about the baby panda issue. They agreed that the loan of the cub's parents had become a significant factor in helping tighten the relationship between the two countries.

He declined to disclose progress on this issue, but said Thailand needed to learn how to look after the growing panda, such as by establishing a research and development centre.

Liberty, Equality, Frate
114,375 Posts
First Thai-Laos rail link opens

BBC Thursday, 5 March 2009

Laos officials say the new rail link will help cut export costs on goods
Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn has opened a rail link over the Mekong river, linking Thailand and Laos.

Two passenger trains will run the 30-minute return trip each day, serving about 500 people daily.

The new link adds a vital 3.5km (2.1 miles) to regional plans to link Asia by rail, ferrying goods and passengers.

The UN-backed Trans-Asian Railway now has nearly 74,700km of working track serving 29 countries, and estimates for completion range from 10 to 15 years.

New links

The inauguration marked the first international rail link for Laos.

A Laos foreign affairs spokesman said the railway was important for his country as it would greatly reduce export costs, as transport by lorry was only previously available.

The Thai Lao Friendship Bridge now has a functioning rail link
The ultimate aim was to "unlock" and transform a country with no direct access to the sea, Lao Railway Authority spokesman Sompong Pholsena told the Lao News Agency.

The track over the Friendship Bridge took 20 months to complete and was funded by Thailand at a cost of about 197m baht ($5.5m; £3.8m).

The bridge is a key part of the region's transport development, extending road links from Singapore to China's port city of Shanghai.

The new network is part of a plan conceived in the 1960s to connect Asia with a continuous railway, stretching west to Turkey and Russia, and north and east to China, Vietnam and South Korea.

Decades of regional conflict and poverty have delayed the plan until recent years.


Liberty, Equality, Frate
114,375 Posts
Stations: A Destination That Matches the Journey

By Jaime Cunningham | NEWSWEEK

Published Jan 10, 2009 From the magazine issue dated Jan 19, 2009

Among the many fine sights to be seen while traveling by train, few are as pleasantly surprising as the terminals one passes through. Madrid's Atocha Station, a large building with wrought-iron design built in 1892, boasts a large tropical garden complete with palm trees and terrapins. It also has a nightclub for those who feel like strutting their stuff while waiting for the train. Shopaholics will appreciate Berlin's Hauptbahnhof, which has 80 stores that sell everything from flowers and fruit to jewelry and eyeglasses. And London's recently refurbished St. Pancras Internationalfeatures the longest champagne bar in Europe and a new farmers' market set to open this year.

The Lahore Railway Station in Pakistan provides an intriguing taste of the region's military history. Built during Britain's colonial rule, it functioned as both a fort and a train station. The two clock towers were designed to withstand bombs, and holes across the façade housed guns. In case of emergency, the train sheds can be easily sealed off.

Probably Africa's most beautiful terminus, Maputo's Central Railway Station in Mozambique was designed by Gustave Eiffel in 1910 to resemble a palace, with marble pillars and wrought iron detail.

Strikingly situated in one of Japan's most picturesque historic cities, the Kyoto Stationis a dazzling, futuristic maze of glass and steel that houses a shopping mall, a department store and a hotel. Check out the view of the city from the 12th floor. You'll feel as if you've truly arrived.

Best Stations
1. St. Pancras, London
2. Grand Central Terminal, New York
3. Chhatrapati Shivaji, Mumbai
4. Central Station, Antwerp, Belgium
5. Dare des Bénédictins, Limoges, France
6. Lahore Railway Station, Pakistan
7. Central Railway Station, Maputo, Mozambique
8. Hua Hin Railway Station, Thailand
9. Atocha Station, Madrid

© 2009

Pic by thaitransport-photo

Hua Hin Station


Liberty, Equality, Frate
114,375 Posts
SRT revamp seen as vital Huge land holdings seriously neglected

Bangkokpost Published: 6/07/2009 at 12:00 AM

The existing structure of the State Railway of Thailand must change if it is to manage the massive new investment programmes planned by the government for the country's rail system in the future, according to Areepong Bhoocha-oom, the director-general of the State Enterprise Policy Office.

The SRT, long the country's worst-performing state enterprises, is set to undergo a sweeping restructuring that while still short of generating profits, will at least stem the flood of red ink on the organisation's balance sheet.

According to the State Enterprise Policy Office, core train operations should improve from a loss of 2.15 billion baht this year to a profit of 287 million by 2012, with profitability continuing to rise steadily afterward to reach 1.24 billion by 2018.

Areepong: 10 years for self reforms fail
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) are expected to improve from -3.58 billion baht this year to -491 million by 2018.

The performance gains will come thanks to better management of the SRT's massive land holdings across the country, a revamp of its debt structure and expected revenue and efficiency gains with hundreds of billions of baht in new investment over the next several years.

Logistics improvement is one of the main pillars of the government's 1.4-trillion-baht infrastructure megaproject programme, set to start next year and aimed at helping provide a stronger foundation for the country's future economic growth.

But Dr Areepong said that managing these new investments will be impossible without organisational change.

Over the past decade, the SRT has spent an average of just 50% of the 10 to 20 billion baht budgeted annually for improvements.

Such a track record gives little confidence to policymakers, who have earmarked an investment budget of 195 billion baht for the SRT from 2010 to 2014.

"We have given the SRT 10 years already, a decade to try to revamp itself based on its existing structure. It has failed," Dr Areepong said.

As a result, the cabinet on June 3 approved a plan establishing two new subsidiaries for the SRT, one to oversee rail services and another to manage its property and assets.

The new rail operations company will be responsible for not only passenger and cargo services, but also the new Airport Link line running to Suvarnabhumi Airport as well as the planned Red Line mass-transit system.

The asset management company, meanwhile, will have responsibility for the SRT's non-core landholdings, totalling 38,604 rai nationwide with an estimated value of 202 billion baht.

But the SRT union protested strongly against the plan as a veiled effort at privatisation, and staged a two-day work stoppage that stranded 200,000 passengers nationwide.

Policy planners, however, believe that the state enterprise, which traces its history back to 1890, simply cannot manage the new investments necessary for the country under its current form.

Over the past 10 years, less than 100 kilometres in new track has been laid by the SRT to build on its aging network of 4,000 km nationwide.

Authorities want to replace the existing one-metre gauge track with a wider, standard gauge able to handle faster speeds and larger loads to help take up more of the country's logistics load, now overwhelmingly dependent on road transport.

Dr Areepong said the Red Line, currently six months overdue, was just another example of how the SRT was unable to manage its projects on time or on target.

He said the new organisational structure for the SRT actually was first conceived in 2000, but has been delayed by successive governments due to employee resistance.

Initial attempts at a restructuring sought to use the Corporatisation Act as the main legal framework, a law that underpins the privatisation of other state enterprises such as PTT Plc.

The government and union leaders later agreed to implement the reforms under the SRT Act, which will stipulate the state enterprise retains 100% shareholding control over the subsidiaries.

Dr Areepong expressed frustration over the latest protests, saying that the planned reforms represented no change from that previously accepted by the union. "I don't really understand what the SRT union is protesting against with regard to establishing the new subsidiaries, since they had accepted this concept up to now," he said.

Allegations that the government wanted to bring in the private sector to manage rail services were similarly mistaken, he said.


Liberty, Equality, Frate
114,375 Posts
Jica rejects SRT plan to carve up Red Line

Bangkokpost Post 7/07/2009

The Japan International Cooperation Agency has rejected the State Railway of Thailand's request to divide the Red Line railway project into five construction contracts. Jica said breaking up the project into so many parts would undermine the construction standards.

The rejection would force the SRT to return to the original agreement under which there would be three contracts - two for the civil engineering and one for the electrical and mechanical work, the SRT's governor Yuthana Thapcharoen said yesterday. The contracts are worth about 71 billion baht in total.

The State Railway of Thailand had asked Jica to approve a plan to carve up the Red Line project, a 26km railway linking Bang Sue in Bangkok and Rangsit in Pathum Thani province, to speed up the construction, as many companies were expected to bid for the contracts. But Jica was not convinced. "Its reasons were the plan would not speed up the project," the SRT governor quoted the Japanese agency as saying yesterday. "Instead, the work would not meet standards due to the many contractors."

An executive at a building company said Jica's rejection would prevent medium-sized companies from bidding because the three contracts required companies of high standard and sufficient capital. Thai companies might need to form joint ventures with Japanese firms similar to those for the 23km Purple Line from Bang Sue in Bangkok to Bang Yai in Nonthaburi province, said the executive, who requested anonymity.

Jica wants Thailand to proceed to the bidding process as soon as possible. It has given the SRT 15 months to select the contractors. Mr Yuthana expects to sign contracts with building companies in August and September next year. Bidding could start as early as January.

The Red Line is part of the new mass transit project to serve commuters in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces.The SRT's restructuring plan, agreed to in principle by the cabinet last month, calls for the electric line to be operated by a new unit under the operating division. The SRT hopes the Red Line and the Airport Rail Link will prove profitable for the agency.
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