According to the Bangkok Post, the director of the Office of Transport, Traffic Policy and Planning Mr Chula Sukmanop told an audience at a public seminar on the plans held in Bangkok on January 24 that the project will require a total budget of Baht 387bn ($US 12.9bn) and international companies are expected to bid. He said the initial section between Bangkok and Phitsanulok should be operational by 2018 or 2019, with the remainder of the line to Chiang Mai opening two years later.

The government will establish a company to operate the line, in which the Finance Ministry is expected to be the majority shareholder. The journey time between Bangkok and Chiang Mai will be around three hours and Sukmanop says the maximum fare will be no more than Baht 2000.

Further public consultation will be carried out before the tendering process begins.