Thailand develops railway to boost economic development

 Thailand plans to revive a railway line that has been disused for more than 20 years between it and Malaysia to increase connectivity between the two countries.

Illustrative image (Source: internet)

Illustrative image (Source: internet)

According to the local media, the proposal to reconnect the border town of Sungai Kolok in the southern province of Narathiwat and Malaysia’s Kelantan state is being spearheaded by the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC).

Somkiat Polprayoon, SBPAC Secretary-General, said the centre had met with railway authorities from Thailand and Malaysia to discuss the project.

The meeting was a follow-up to an agreement reached between Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohamad in October last year to enhance road and rail connectivity between southern Thailand and northern Malaysia.

In 1954, railway authorities of Thailand and Malaysia signed a joint train service treaty that covered service between Sungai Kolok and Tumpat (Kelantan state). However, the service was halted about two decades ago because the route was being used for smuggling both goods and people.

Circumstances have changed since then and the restoration of service would stimulate border trade, according to Polprayoon.

Rail service is currently available between Hat Yai on Songkhla and Kuala Lumpur, and a link between Hat Yai and Sungai Kolok could improve transport services, he added.

In late April 2019, Thailand and Cambodia restored a rail service that was suspended 46 years ago.

Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and his Cambodian counterpart Samdech Techo Hun Sen co-chaired the inauguration of the bridge and the reopening of the railway connecting Aranyaprathet district of Thailand's easternmost province of Sa Kaeo and Poi Pet city of Cambodia.

This railway is expected to promote trade and transport between the two countries. 

According to Thailand’s Foreign Trade Department, border trade between the two countries reached THB145 billion  (US$4.53 billion ) in 2018, of which 62 percent of goods were passed through the border between Aranyaprathet and Poipet.

Earlier, Cambodia restored the 385km road from Phnom Penh to the Thai border and resumed its operation last year.

Also in April 2019, Thailand signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Laos and China on the development of a railway connecting Nong Khai province in north-eastern Thailand with the Lao capital of Vientiane.

According to the MoU, a rail bridge connecting Nong Khai and Vientiane will be built near the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge. China will provide technical assistance during construction.

Once completed, it will connect to the 252.5km high-speed railway system - which is in the process of establishing a project between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima province, also in north-eastern Thailand, via the 355km Nakhon Ratchasima - Nong Khai rail link - which is due to be completed by 2023.

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