The first phase of the high speed train service that will connect Thailand with China is expected to begin in 2026, a senior official has told the Reuters news agency.
Phase one of the line connects Bangkok with Nakhon Ratchasima, a distance of some 200 km, while phase two connects Nakhon Ratchasima and Nong Khai close to the border with Laos, a distance of 300km.
The first phase is expected to be operational by 2026, some three years later than planned, while the second phase, which is currently undergoing environmental assessment, will not be ready to welcome passengers until at least 2028, according to government deputy spokesperson Traisulee Traisaranakul.
In addition to the high speed train project to connect Thailand with China, Thailand is also constructing a high speed line that will connect Bangkok’s two airports, Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang to Pattaya and U-Tapao airport on the eastern seaboard. The line is expected to enable people to travel between the capital and Pattaya in just 45 minutes.
Bangkok’s new, high tech train station at Bang Sue, the largest in Southeast Asia, will be the central hub for the high speed train network.
What about Hua Hin?
Hua Hin was originally included in the Thai government’s plans to build a high speed rail network throughout the country.
However, the original plan to also operate a high speed to Hua Hin were shelved in 2020, after a feasibility study said the route would not be cost effective.
The study found that a high speed train line between Bangkok and Hua Hin would need some 20,000 passengers per day to make it financially viable.
But in August 2021, the Department of Rail Transport (DRT) told Hua Hin Today that it will commission a second study to see if the project remains feasible.
The feasibility study, dubbed the R-Map study, which is expected to be completed by September, will look at two routes: Bangkok-Chiang Mai and Bangkok-Hua Hin.
The study will also look into whether the new dual track rail line (which is currently being built) is enough to meet Hua Hin’s public transportation needs or if new routes to other areas of Thailand are also needed.
A high speed train line would enable passengers to travel between Hua Hin and Bangkok in one hour, transport officials said.