STATE Railway of Thailand (SRT) has approved the second phase of the Thai-Chinese high-speed line from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai. Construction of the 357km new line is likely to cost Baht 341.35bn ($US 9.24bn) according to The Bangkok Post.

The project is a partnership between Thai and Chinese governments to build a 610km high-speed line between Bangkok and Nong Khai. The Baht 179.41bn 253km first phase, for which contracts were signed with China Railway Group (CREC) and China Railway Design Corporation (CRDC) in 2021, was originally due to open in 2026. However, a series of delays has pushed back the opening, which latest reports suggest will now be in 2028.

The second phase comprises 202km of elevated track, as well as 155km at grade. Four intermediate stations will be built at Bua Yai, Ban Phai, Khon Kaen and Udon Thani, in addition to a new terminus at Nong Khai.

Following approval by the SRT board, the project will now be submitted to the Ministry of Transport, which will present it to the Thai cabinet for approval later this year. Design work for the second phase is already complete and an environmental impact assessment was approved in February. The line is expected to open to passengers in 2031.

When fully complete, the Bangkok - Nong Khai high-speed line is planned to form the central section of a high-speed rail corridor between Kunming in China and Singapore. It is proposed that services will be operated by CRRC-manufactured Fuxing Hao CR300AF trains.

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