BANGKOK – As of January 2014, construction of sections of the Kunming–Singapore Railway connecting China with Vietnam, China with Myanmar and Laos with Vietnam are under way.
The Kunming–Singapore Railway refers to a network of regular and high speed railways that would connect China, Singapore and all the countries of mainland Southeast Asia.
The proposed network consists of three main routes from Kunming, China to Bangkok, Thailand: the Eastern Route via Vietnam and Cambodia; the Central Route via Laos, and the Western Route via Myanmar. The southern half of network from Bangkok to Singapore has long been operational, though a high-speed line has been proposed.
China is helping Thailand to build High speed rail starting in 2015. Laos and the Singapore -Malaysia high speed rail sections appear likely to be agreed this year with Chinese construction companies.
China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) looks likely to win the bid for the first Southeast Asia high-speed railway line stretching from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, expected to begin construction in 2016, Beijing-based Caixin reports.
The project, which was agreed by Malaysia and Singapore two years ago, is expected to open for bids in the second half of this year. CRCC is offering the lowest price and the shortest construction time which may secure them the deal, according to several industry insiders close to the company.
The project, with a total length of 350 kilometers, is expected to be completed by 2020, according to Malaysia’s local media reports, citing Syed Hamid Albar, chair of Malaysia’s Land Public Transport Commission.
CRCC has quoted estimated costs at only half of the Japanese bid, experts said.
In 2014, Thai army chief General Prayut Chan-o-cha announced plans to build two high-speed rail lines as part of a 741.4 billion baht transportation program. The Nong Khai to Map Ta Phut line, 737 kilometres (458 mi) in length, would run from the Laotian border near Vientane to the Gulf of Thailand.
The Chiang Khong to Ban Phachi line, 655 kilometres (407 mi) in length, would run from Chiang Rai near the northern tip of Thailand to Ayutthaya just north of Bangkok. The two lines would allow trains to travel at a top speed of 160 km/h. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2015 and will be completed in 2021.
In November 2014, after a meeting between Li Keqiang and Prayut Chan-o-cha, China agreed to lend Thailand funds to build dual-track standard gauge midspeed railways on the Bankok-Nong Khai, Bangkok-Map Ta Phut, and Kaeng Khoi-Map Ta Phut routes.
The loans could be repaid with rice and rubber. On December 4, 2014, the Thai National Legislative Assembly voted 187-0 with seven abstensions to approve loans for the Nong Khai-Map Ta Phut and Kaeng Khoi-Bangkok lines. China would undertake construction and development of the lines but would not receive land use rights along the along the routes. On December 19, 2014, the two countries signed a memorandum to build the railways.