In December 2017, the Thai government organized the groundbreaking ceremony to officially begin the construction of the 3.5 km section of the high speed railway between Klang Dong and Pang Asok stations in Pakchong District, Nakhon Ratchasima province. The section is part of the first construction phase of the Bangkok-Nong Khai High Speed Railway project scheduled to begin at the end of 2017.
According to the Minister of Transport Department, the project is divided into 2 construction phases. The first phase will connect Bangkok with Nakhon Ratchasima province and total rail length is 253 kilometres. There will be total 6 stations to be constructed along the route which are Bang Sue, Don Muang, Ayutthaya, Saraburi, Pak Chong and Nakhon Ratchasima. In addition, the project is designed with double- track railway at maximum 250 kilometres speed per hour, estimated commuting time is 1 hour and 30 minutes from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima. Total approved budget is 1.79 billion THB. The thirteen construction contracts will be opened for bidding in 2018, with an estimated completion for full operation in 2021.
The second phase will be an extended project from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai province. Total railway length of both construction phases is approximately 873 kilometres, linking Bangkok with Nakhon Ratchasima and Nong Khai at the Thai-Laos border. The subsequent project is to establish cross border connectivity with the China-Laos High Speed Railway which links Laos with the southern cities of China.
According to the Prime Minister, the Bangkok-Nong Khai High Speed Rail project will connect Thai with other neighbour countries in South East Asia including China and India once the whole railway networks are completed. It is also expected that the project will increase trade, investment and tourism opportunities in the provinces along the route from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima and Nong Khai. Also, the high speed train would offer alternative mode of transport, reducing commuting time, pollution and road accident on Highway,
The Bangkok-Nong Khai High Speed Railway project is the cooperation between Thai government and Chinese government. The Chinese government will be responsible for design of the railway, supervision of construction and manufacturing of trains and signal systems. The project is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which aims to establish a trans-Asia high speed rail connectivity from China to countries in Southeast Asia.