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Bidding for construction of the Thai-Chinese joint rail development scheme is expected to take place during July-August, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said.
Speaking after the 17th meeting of the Thai-Sino panel on the high-speed railway project, he said the committee has reached a conclusion on construction design and materials and revised project implementation details.
With the differences ironed out, the Transport Ministry will submit the development project to the cabinet and the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) for approval with the contract signing between Thailand and Chinese tentatively scheduled for June, he said.
Mr Arkhom said the bidding process for the work, likely to take place during July-August, will be held for two sections -- the 3.5km route from Klang Dong to Pang Asok in Nakhon Ratchasima's Pak Chong district, and the 11km route from Pak Chong to Sikhiu district.
Mr Arkhom said this marks significant progress on the rail development scheme.
The Sino-Thai project is split into two parts. The first part focuses on the 252.5km Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima route; the second is the 354km Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai route.
The first part, worth 179 billion baht, will be developed first. It is divided into four sections: A 3.5km route from Klang Dong to Pang Asok in Nakhon Ratchasima's Pak Chong district; an 11km route from Pak Chong to Sikhiu district; a 119km section between Nakhon Ratchasima and Saraburi's Kaeng Khoi district of Saraburi, and the 119km from Kaeng Khoi to Bangkok.
Mr Arkhom on Monday led a Thai delegation to discuss the rail development with Chinese authorities headed by Wang Xiaotao, vice-chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission. The meeting was postponed from January.
He said the first two contracts to be signed between Thailand and China involve details of the project design and the hiring of project consultants. China has agreed to submit a document detailing construction materials and components in English.
It was reported China earlier submitted the project design of the 252.5km route in Chinese, making it difficult for the State Railway of Thailand to estimate the rail's costs and set a reference price necessary for project bidding.
The transport minister also said the project contractors must be Thai nationals and construction materials will be locally produced but they must comply with the Chinese specifications.
He said Thai authorities will also provide amenities for 300 Chinese engineers working for the project who are required to sit an exam to qualify for local profession licences.
"We've settled the differences and after the contracts are signed, it's time to proceed with civil work. Next to be discussed are project loans and procurement of trains," he said.
He said the construction design of the 3.5km section is complete and the 11km route is being worked on.
The construction design for the other two sections is expected to start in six months, Mr Arkhom said.
This article first appeared on www.bangkokpost.com
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