Bidding set to start for rail and airport projects

infrastructure1Investors are on alert as bidding has been set for mid-December for five major rail projects, a Transport Ministry official said last week, adding that the Airports of Thailand was ready to call bids on three projects involving the expansion of Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok.

Meanwhile, the government invited its counterpart in Malaysia to engage in direct talks on building a high-speed rail link between the capital cities of Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.

The five rail projects up for bidding would be worth over $3 billion, and the State Railways of Thailand is in the process of gathering feedback on its proposed terms, said Peerapol Thawornsuphacharoen, deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Transport. Bids would be submitted in January and February, and the winners would be required to sign contracts in March.

Major investment in infrastructure development is a key policy of the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. The administration has drawn up plans for infrastructure investments that total over $100 billion, with much of it focused on rail lines and airports. The goal is to retool and upgrade the Kingdom’s connectivity on all levels so it will stay ahead of competitors in the region who are also investing in their own infrastructure.

In the short and medium term, the investments are expected to serve as an important stimulus, spurring economic growth and creating jobs. Thailand has achieved respectable growth rates of over 3 percent, but the government and the private sector aspire to higher levels. In the medium to long term, the development projects are crucial to facilitating Thailand’s sustainability as a leader in manufacturing and trade in Southeast Asia and beyond by having the most modern infrastructure possible.

Thailand has long had a comparative advantage over most of its neighbors as far as infrastructure, and that advantage was one cornerstone of the country’s economic development, which outpaced many of its neighbors and made the Kingdom a regional hub for manufacturing, trade and transport.

The five double-track rail projects, which were approved by the cabinet earlier this year and will be up for bidding, cover a total of 436 miles.

Peerapol also said the Airports of Thailand is ready to open bidding for three projects for the second phase of expanding Suvarnabhumi airport to increase its capacity for passenger numbers and flights. Bids will be called on each between the end of this year and March 2017.

The first project covers the expansion of the eastern side of the original passenger terminal, the car park building and the airline office building. The second project involves buying and installing baggage conveyor belt systems and metal detectors. The third project includes the midfield satellite building and facilities, and an aerobridge link to the airport’s southern part.