The deal was signed in Bangkok on October 24 by acting head of SRT Mr Worawut Mala and Charoen Pokphand Group CEO, Mr Suphachai Chearavanont, in the presence of the Thai prime minister, Mr Prayut Chan-o-cha. The other members of the consortium are China Railway Construction Corporation, Bangkok Expressway and Metro, Italian Thai Development and C H Karnchang.

This is Thailand’s first high-speed rail project. The 220km line will run from Don Mueang Airport to the north of Bangkok, via Bang Sue and Makkasan in central Bangkok to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport. It will then continue along SRT’s East line via the Bang Pakong River, Chachoengsao, Chonburi and Pattaya to U-Tapao Rayong Pattaya International Airport in the south. The line will have a maximum speed of 250km/h.

The Thai cabinet set a budget limit for the project of Baht 119.4bn, whereas the consortium proposed a state contribution of Baht 117.2bn resulting in the state saving Baht 2.2bn under the 50-year agreement. All the assets will revert to state ownership at the end of the contract.

The project is expected to lead to property development around the stations and produce an economic return of Baht 650bn. Around 16,000 people will be employed during construction with another 100,000 employed in related businesses.

The new line is expected to open in 2023.

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