Thailand’s first urban rail network outside of Bangkok to be built from 2024


An ambitious plan to build Thailand’s first urban rail network outside of Bangkok will come to fruition in the northeastern city of Khon Kaen. Work will begin in 2024 on a 26km light rail system to run through the city.

The long-awaited public transport system, first proposed eight years ago, fits in the province’s larger Smart City Development Programme, which has more than 100 projects in the pipeline.

The light rail system will also link up with the mega high-speed railway running from China into Laos and Thailand.

The 21 billion baht (S$813 million) project is more than just a solution to traffic congestion. It also breaks ground on the idea that provinces can have the autonomy to pursue large-scale projects without relying on Bangkok’s central government to spearhead such initiatives.

“For a project like this, people usually rely on the central government to plan and lead it. But here in Khon Kaen, we saw the pain points of the city,” said Suradech Taweesaengsakulthai, 57, president and chief executive of transport and manufacturing company Cho Thavee.

Suradech is a founding member of the Khon Kaen Think Tank (KKTT), one of the local groups that helped to broker the approval of the project with the central government.

Under Thailand’s highly centralised governing system, the national government has a tight hold on federal purse strings and resources are typically concentrated in the capital Bangkok or cities targeted for development.

Source: The Nation


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