The Bureau of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (BTTPP) recently organised a public hearing about the Bangkok-Hua Hin high speed train project. Officials revealed their preliminary research and design and local people expressed their opinions about this project.
The event took place at the Grand Pacific Sovereign Resort and Spa in Cha-Am on 20th June 2013. It was Chaired by the Deputy Governor of Phetchaburi Mr. Prasan Wongsawat.
On 24th August 2011, the Prime Minister Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra presented a policy on transport development for the future of rail systems in Thailand. During her presentation, Ms. Yingluck pointed out that rapid trains should be introduced to provide Thai passengers and tourists with convenient and safe travel as well as good service.
The Thai government is developing high speed trains to enhance the country’s transport systems, efficiency and competitiveness to an international standard. The Ministry of Transport has recently started to study and design four routes for the rapid trains. These are Bangkok-Phitsanulok-Chiang Mai, Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima-Nong Khai, Bangkok-Hua Hin-Padang Besah and Suvannabhumi Airport-Chonburi-Rayong. The BTTPP is focusing on the route between Bangkok-Hua Hin-Padang Besah in terms of a detailed framework and the effects of the route on the environment.
The Deputy Manager for the route between Bangkok and Hua Hin, Mr. Noppadol Songthung said that the maximum train speed would be 250 kms. per hour with the journey taking one hour. There are two interconnected routes. The first one will start from Bang Sue Train Station to Pak Tho District in Ratchaburi offers four alternatives:
1) A 225 km route to the south of Thailand passing Nakhon Pathom and Ratchaburi
2) A 190 km. railway passing Samut Sakorn and Samut Songkram
3) A new 198 km. route from Kanchanaphisek Road in Bangkok to Pak Tho District
4) A 205 km. motorway between Nakhon Pathom and Cha-Am.
After studying the proposed alternatives, the first one was selected.
The second route passes through Phetchaburi and offers five choices:
1) An empty area 3-4 kms. from Phetchaburi and 9 kms. from Cha-Am beaches,
2) Similar the to the first one but this area is 1.5 or 2 kms. from Phetchaburi,
3) An area in the west of Phetchaburi which is 2 kms. from the city,
4)Similar to the third but 3 kms. from the city and far from congested areas
5) An area alongside Phetchakasem Road then for 4.5 kms through congested areas of Phetchaburi where the railway will have to be elevated above the road.
After studying the proposed alternatives the fifth alternative was preferred.
All of the selected choices are ideal in terms of engineering, traffic, financial aspects and the environment, added Mr. Noppadol.
A specialist on community consultation, Mr. Sorn Pinaksornsakul commented that the BTTPP had already organised public hearing sessions in Nakhon Pathom, Phetchaburi and Prachuab Khirikhan as well as group meetings and PR activities. Opinions and recommendations from those events will be integrated into the planning work. The project is expected to become beneficial for Thai people as well as the country.
Mrs. Chalida Praditsakul, the specialist on the environment, said that a preliminary study on the impact on the environment from construction of the railway for the rapid trains had been carried out. Some measures and solutions to prevent environmental threats in terms of ecology, water drainage systems, protection of historical and archeological sites, noise pollution, community separation and moving local people out of the construction areas. However some people suggested other important issues for BTTPP’s consideration. This include elevating the railroad to prevent community separation, building one more train station in Cha-Am as well as solving problems on moving people out of their areas of residence.
Development of high speed trains in Thailand aims to upgrade railway transport as an option for travel by adhering to international standards. It is expected that within the next few years, travelers will be able to use this service.