The MoU will lead to the creation of a Special Purpose Vehicle to build the double-track standard-gauge railway which involves constructing a 734km line from Nong Khai, near the border with Laos, to Map Ta Phut in Rayong on the Gulf of Thailand, with a 133km branch from Kaeng Khoi to Bangkok. The railway will be electrified and designed for operation at up to 180km/h.
This will be the second MoU for the project which will be implemented in four phases. The first was signed in November 2014 and resulted in the formation of a steering committee. Further agreements were signed in March, and it was intended to start construction in October, but this was postponed because Thailand and China could not agree on the cost of the project, and how it should be funded, and this is still the case.
"The signing of the MoU will signal the tangible development of the project," said Mr Sansern Kaewkamnerd, a Thai government spokesman, speaking to The Nation newspaper. "However, no information on the interest rate for the loan and the budget has been announced, since the two parties still cannot agree on some of the costs."