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Hi-speed rail work delayed over curbs

A model of the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway’s first section between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima is on display in December 2017. (File photo)

The government’s ban on moving construction workers during the latest Covid-19 uptick has adversely impacted the progress of the Thai-Chinese high-speed rail project, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) said on Tuesday.

A number of construction work for the project — which are subdivided into 14 separate contracts — have to be put on hold because of the stricter restrictions, which means the previously agreed deadline won’t be met, according to SRT governor Nirut Maneephan.

The project will see the construction of a 250.8km high-speed rail link at a cost of 179.4 billion baht between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima.  

Among the works which will have to be postponed are the construction of a 23km track between Nawa Nakhon and Ban Pho worth 11.5 billion baht, a 31.6km track between Phra Kaeo and Saraburi worth 9.4 billion baht, and the construction of a 6.5-billion-baht train maintenance depot in Chiang Rak Noi.

The other work which will have to be postponed — presumably until next year, according to Mr Nirut — is the 10.5-billion-baht construction of the section between Don Muang and Nawa Nakhon.

In another development, the SRT’s board has approved the proposal to extend the contract of a consultancy firm that was brought on to manage and supervise the construction of the Thai-Chinese high-speed rail project, Mr Nirut said.

The SRT had initially agreed to engage the consultants over a 60-month period for a payment of 1.2 billion baht.

However, Mr Nirut said, delays in signing a number of contract — in particular Contract 2.3 that deals with rail support systems, including electric and mechanical signalling, carriage procurement and staff training — meant the contract will lapse before the required work are completed.

As such, he said, it is necessary to extend the firm’s contract from 60 months to 85 months.

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