BANGKOK, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- International bidding for Thailand 's procurement of high-speed trains to carry passengers and cargoes would likely be held late next year, according to Thai Transport Minister Chatchart Sitthipun.
The bidding by various foreign firms to win the Thai high-speed train project would likely be held from the third quarter of next year until 2017 while the construction of the railways and the procurement of those trains are scheduled to be completed within 2020, the minister said on Friday.
For the time being, environmental impact assessments are yet to be finished, regarding the planned routes for the high-speed trains with a main station in Bangkok.
Those routes include Bangkok - Pitsanuloak, which will be extended to Chiang Mai City, viewed as the country's northern logistical hub and tourist destination hub; Bangkok - Nakorn Ratchasima, which will be extended to Nong Khai province, viewed as a gateway to the Lao capital of Vientiane; Bangkok - Rayong, the country's eastern seaboard industrial hub and deep-sea port; and Bangkok - Hua Hin, viewed as a flourishing tourist destination and gateway to the southern region.
No matter which party will finally win the bidding for the high- speed trains, all the railways running through those provinces will apply the same operational systems, according to the transport minister.
Chatchart said he will leave for Kunming city in southern China some time next month to discuss the 4.9-billion- U.S.-dollar high- speed rail project with senior Chinese government officials. He did not go into details.
Chatchart said the Thai and Chinese governments might probably agree to dealing in some barter trade between Chinese high-speed trains and Thai farm goods such as rice and rubber. He did not elaborate.
He confirmed that the Chinese have planned to run high-speed trains laden with tourists and merchandise from Kunming to Nong Khai, across the international Mekong River from Vientiane.
Besides the Chinese, several other foreign firms have shown interest to vie for varied rail projects in addition to the high- speed train project including those from South Korea, Japan, France and Spain.
Given an estimated 73 billion U.S. dollars loans to fund the country's infrastructural development schemes, the Thai government has planned to build double-track railways in the provinces as well as additional elevated railways to ply Bangkok's suburban areas, apart from the interprovincial high-speed trains.
All the rail projects combined will use more than 80 percent of the total loan.