Five rail lines draw bids from 36 companies


Thirty-six private companies have applied to enter bids on five dual-track projects worth $2.6 billion ahead of an e-auction scheduled for early March as the massive national infrastructure upgrade is set to pick up pace this year, while the government announced new plans to build monorails in Phuket, Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen that will tackle congestion and also improve tourism.

The rail projects are part of a $100 billion national infrastructure upgrade program designed to keep Thailand at the forefront of regional competitiveness in terms of transport, logistics, trade and investment. The program is also expected to have the ripple effects of stimulating economic growth, job creation and consumption. Although Thailand has always had some of the best and most developed infrastructure in the region, some of it is aging and in need of replacement with more advanced systems.

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) is overseeing the five rail projects and the agency will take representatives of the bidding companies to various sites for inspection and then explain requirements in detail to the bidders. A list of the firms qualified and approved to bid on the projects will be made public on February 20, an SRT official told local newspapers.

The actual bidding will take place on the first two days of March, and will be conducted online by e-auction. The lowest bidders will then be reviewed by the SRT. Once selected, the winning companies will be expected to start construction as soon as possible if not immediately.

The five dual-track rail routes up for auction are: the 105-mile Nakhon Pathom – Hua Hin line; the 72-mile Lop Buri – Pak Nampho route; the 82-mile Map Kabao – Chira junction; the 52-mile Hua Hin – Prachuap Khiri Khan line; and the 103-mile Prachuap Khiri Khan – Chumphon route.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Office said funding would be ready by mid-year to start building monorail lines in Phuket, Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen. The monorail in Phuket could be a relief for tourists, as it will connect the airport to many points on the resort island, which lacks a public transport system.

The cost of the Phuket line would be $663 million and the line would span 37 miles. Estimates for the lines in Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen were not yet available, a government official said.

The official suggested that the government would probably issue bonds to fund the monorails as well as other infrastructure projects in 18 provinces.