China-Thailand RR connection.
China and Thailand expect to hold a commencement ceremony in October to mark a new cooperative agreement to build a rail line that will connect the two countries, according to a report in People's Daily.
Zhu Xijun, general manager of the Southeast Asia Co. of China Railway Construction Corp., the two countries had held six rounds of negotiations before they agreed in August to the railway project.
China has begun to develop a plan it calls One Belt, One Road. The name notwithstanding, the plan involves two major trade routes.
One is a land-based system connecting the countries from China to Europe that were part of the Silk Road of antiquity. The China-Thailand railway project is part of that plan.
The second route is intended to connect with Southeast Asia, Oceania, and North Africa, through the South China Sea, the South Pacific Ocean, and the Indian Ocean.
According to Zhu, the China-Thailand railway will be completed in three years. It will extend 867 kilometers and have an operational speed of 180 km/h. The original goal was to run at 250 km/h, but the lower speed will reduce costs.
The railway will pass through Thailand's northeastern Nong Khai province and then proceed to Bangkok and Rayong province.
The ticket between Kunming, China, and Thailand's capital, Bangkok, a journey of more than 1,000 kilometers, will cost about 3,600 Thai baht or 700 yuan, a little more than $100, about half or a third the price of an airline ticket, the newspaper said. The cost of rail freight is expected to be about one-ninth the cost of air freight.
Wu Zhiwu, interim charge d'affaires at the Chinese embassy in Thailand, said the collaboration on the railway may lead to other cooperative infrastructure projects including construction of sea ports and airports.