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Villagers in Nakhon Ratchasima have stepped up their efforts to halt a controversial double-track railway design that will split their Muang district in two.
A meeting with officials at Transport Ministry last week failed to settle their conflict with project operator, the State Railway of Thailand, as its acting governor Anon Luangboriboon said officials disagree with an alternative proposal to build an elevated track to avoid cutting through roads or causing traffic problems.
Officials are concerned about the cost and the need for a new environmental impact assessment to be carried out.
The SRT announced that bidding for the construction of the railway section, from Map Kabao to Chira junction, will start on Aug 11.
The two sides have agreed to meet again tomorrow to discuss their differences, but, in a bid to make their voices heard, some residents have begun their campaign against the original design by erecting a number of cutouts along roads in Muang district.
"Villagers are in trouble. The double track must be elevated," read the cutouts.
The message, in tambon Nong Phai Lom in Muang district, shows their intention to fight to the finish but, on the other hand, also reflects their concern over an uncertain future given the failure of the latest round of talks, held last Thursday, said Amonrat Dudadit, village head of Ban Moo 1 in tambon Nong Phai Lom. He did not say what he expects villagers to do next.
The SRT remains firm on the original design which will see a 7km section of the rail track cut through roads in the Muang district in 15 spots.
There will be no railroad crossings as the track will be fenced off with 2-metre walls built along it.
Only U-turn bridges or flyovers for cars were suggested by the SRT as a solution to relieve the traffic problems at some crossing points.
But that failed to satisfy the villagers who argued the track is a hindrance on roads they rely on and will end up affecting at least 10,000 residents who live along the two sides of the proposed track, Ms Amonrat said.
The section of track is part of a new 187km railway development stretching from Chira Road train junction in Nakhon Ratchasima's Muang district to Khon Kaen in the Northeast.
This article first appeared on www.bangkokpost.com
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