BANGKOK, 18 December 2020 Thailand nudged along the proposed rail project that will link Chiang Rai province to the main rail line between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, when the Cabinet, last week, approved a draft Royal Decree, designating land expropriation boundaries.
The planned double-track railway will run from Den Chai rail junction to Chiang Rai province, ending at the border town of Chiang Khong that stands on Mekong River bank facing Laos.
The fourth Thai-Laos Friendship bridge, just 2 km from Chiang Khong’s town centre, connects with a 200 km highway that cuts through Laos to the Chinese border. There are no current plans for a Chinese-built rail line to Chiang Khong. China’s fast rail line now nearing completion follows a different route from the Laos border to Luang Namtha, Luang Prabang and Vientiane. It will ultimately connect with the main Thai rail line in Nong Khai to the Thai capital Bangkok.
Clearing land hurdles
The decree on the Den Chai – Chiang Khong rail project clears the legal obstacles on land expropriation along the route. It covers parts of Den Chai, Sung Men, Mueang Phrae, Nong Muang Khai, and Song districts in Phrae province; Ngao district in Lampang province; Mueang Phayao, Dok Khamtai, and Phu Kamyao districts in Phayao province; and Pa Daet, Thoeng, Mueang Chiang Rai, Wiang Chai, Wiang Chiang Rung, Doi Luang, and Chiang Khong districts in Chiang Rai province.
The Den Chai – Chiang Rai – Chiang Khong double-track railway project will facilitate goods transportation from Thailand to China through two primary channels, namely Chiang Saen Commercial Port and the fourth Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge (Chiang Khong).
The length of the proposed railway is 308 km, with a maximum speed of 160 km per hour. The project requires an investment of THB79,619 million, and it is expected to be completed by 2025. The line will also have four tunnels, with a length of 13.4 km.
According to the government public relations department’s assessment “4,811 people are likely to use this service daily.” The rail line should transport 313,669 tons of cargo from far north Thailand each year. When products from China are included, the volume will increase to about 1.6 million tons a year.
(Source: Thailand Public Relations Dept)