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Rail diplomacy puts grand plans for Thailand's railway on track

Image © https://mekongtohongkong.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/sprinter.jpg

Thailand’s military government has made rail development and construction its top transport priority, and that is attracting the attention of countries looking to export their technology and grab a slice of the investment pie.

The government wants to double the tracks and modernise the country's 120-year-old railway networks by increasing the existing 4,000 kilometres of rail infrastructure to 10,000 kilometres over the next decade.

In the past, Thailand's ageing railways have been used predominantly for passengers, but the planned expansion will accommodate greater use of railway for cargo. The Transport Ministry has estimated that by 2022, five per cent of cargo nationwide will move by rail.

The government is also pushing to expand Bangkok's rail mass transit systems with plans to build 10 new lines, two of which have already been completed. Discussions are also taking place on rail transit systems in Thailand's other big cities and towns.

Plans are also afoot for new medium- and high-speed rail lines that will improve the country’s connectivity with its neighbours. These projects have already generated lots of interest from countries and international companies that export rail technology.

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