The State Railway of Thailand received a warm welcome for its railway extension project in the North when it conducted its first public hearing yesterday in Phrae.
The state enterprise introduced its Den Chai-Chiang Rai railway extension project to people in Phrae province. At present, the last stop on the northern route is at Chiang Mai.
The public hearing was held at Nakorn Phrae Tower Hotel and was attended by more than 200 people, including representatives of government offices, local administrative organisations and members of the public from the province’s five districts.
Project manager Pracha Tiyatha said the cabinet approved the 326km railway project in 2010, with a budget of 173 million baht. The planned railway extension will start in Phrae, pass Lampang and Phayao and continue to Chiang Rai province.
A consultancy was hired in April this year to conduct a feasibility study to be finished by June 2012.
Phrae deputy governor Apichart Thiewpanich said the project had been talked about for nearly 50 years and most people in Phrae wanted it because it would make the province a transport gateway to the eastern part of the far North and on into other countries in the Mekong sub-region.
He believed the project would boost cargo transport and tourism in the region.
Chavalit Batklon, president of the tambon Najak administrative organisation in Phrae’s Muang district, said local people were glad to find out that the extended railway would definitely go ahead.
He would like the authorities to make sure the track and stations were located away from flood-prone areas.
He believed the project would facilitate cargo transport to Chiang Rai and further to China and expected no land expropriation problems because the track would mostly pass paddy fields.
Wachirapong Kosin, mayor of Tambon Thung Hong in Phrae’s Muang district, said the project excited local people and it would help operators make considerable savings on cargo transport costs.
The project that will extend the northern end of the national railway network will pass Song, Nong Muang Khai, Muang, Sung Men and Den Chai districts in Phrae; Ngao district in Lampang province; Phu Kham Yao, Dok Kham Tai and Muang districts in Phayao; and Muang, Wiang Chai, Thoeng, Pa Daet, Chiang Khong, Chiang Saen, Doi Luang and Wiang Chiang Rung districts in Chiang Rai.