Construction officially began on the much-delayed high-speed railway linking China with Thailand on Thursday, according to China Daily.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang sent a letter of congratulation, saying the China-Thailand Railway is a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative and will improve the level of regional infrastructure construction. On Nov 24, Thai Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said the construction of the remaining 249 km would begin gradually after being put out to tender next year, with the full railway set to be completed in 2021.
The first phase of the project, linking Bangkok and the northeastern Thai province of Nakhon Ratchasima, is set to cost $5.4 billion and would become Thailand’s first high-speed railway.
Under the deal, Thailand will pay for the construction by issuing bonds or seeking loans from banks. China will design the project and provide engineers, track systems and equipment. The railway is expected to bring about 2 million more Chinese tourists to Thailand every year and will make it easier for Thailand to export its products.