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Asean & Global Updates
POSTED | 16:12 PM | 30-07-2014

Thai-China high-speed rail project approved

The Thai military government on Wednesday (30 July 2014) approved a massive budget to upgrade the country's railways including high-speed rail that would eventually link with China.

Similar plans initiated last year by the elected Yingluck Shinawatra government, which was ousted in a May 22 military coup, were scrapped by the Constitutional Court in March. The court said the Yingluck administration's bill to borrow 2 trillion baht ($63 billion) to fund transport and water infrastructure was unconstitutional.

The junta's high-speed trains will travel at 160 kilometers (99 miles) per hour, slower than proposed by the ousted government, and will eventually “provide links to the north to China and Laos and down to Malaysia and Singapore,” according to Transport Ministry permanent secretary Soithip Traisuth, who is also the acting transport minister.

The construction of the two routes -- from the northeastern Thai province of Nong Khai and the northern district of Chiang Khong, will start in 2015 and should be completed by 2021.

The officials didn't explain why the junta shelved the former's government plan for a high-speed rail line that would connect Bangkok with the northern Thai province of Chiang Mai, a stronghold of ousted Premier Yingluck.

The junta will also expand dual-track railways, develop inter-city trains to ease congestion in Bangkok and its greater metropolitan area, and expand nationwide highways to support border trade.

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