Thailand To Invest $4.5 Billion To Build New Railway

Government says it would welcome domestic and foreign investors.

Thailand's post-coup government said Nov. 7 it would invest 165 billion baht (US$4.5 billion) to build five railways, including one linking Bangkok to the country's new international airport. The five railways, to be built over the next five years, were part of ambitious public works projects under the government of deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, who was installed by the military following the September coup that ousted Thaksin, said details of the five railways would be hammered out by early next year.

Finance Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula also said the government would welcome both domestic and foreign investors to finance the railway projects. "The projects will be financed by both local and overseas investors, with a majority of investments to be coming from Japan Bank for International Cooperation," the finance minister said, referring to the state-run bank.

Bangkok's existing mass transit system has three lines -- two above ground, and one underground -- totaling 47 miles of tracks. Together they carry almost 630,000 passengers a day.

Of the five planned railway projects, the government would build a new train line linking Bangkok to Suvarnabhumi airport, located 15 miles east of the capital. The new airport, with an annual passenger capacity of 45 million, opened in late September.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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