High-Speed Rail Construction Postponed Over COVID-19 Restrictions

On Tuesday, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) said that Covid-19 restrictions had negatively affected the progress of the Thai-Chinese high-speed rail project.

The SRT stated authorities’ ban on moving construction workers after the latest spike in cases had delayed its plans.

Tighter restrictions have forced several construction works to be suspended. Therefore, the initially agreed deadline would not be met, SRT Governor Nirut Maneephan said.

The project, valued at 179.4 billion baht, is subdivided into 14 separate contracts to construct a 250.8 km high-speed rail link between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima.

Works to be postponed include a 23km track between Nawa Nakhon and Ban Pho worth 11.5 billion baht and a 31.6km track between Phra Kaeo and Saraburi worth 9.4 billion baht.

A 6.5-billion-baht train maintenance depot in Chiang Rak Noi is another work to be suspended.

Mr. Nirut said that another work that should be postponed, presumably until next year, is the 10.5-billion-baht construction of the section between Don Muang and Nawa Nakhon.

Meanwhile, the SRT board approved a proposal to extend the contract of a consulting firm hired to manage and supervise the rail project’s construction.

Previously, SRT had hired consultants under a 60-month contract for a payment of 1.2 billion baht.

But delays in signing Contract 2.3 and other contracts caused the deadline to expire before the required work was completed.

Contract 2.3 deals with railway support systems, carriage acquisition, and personnel training.

Mr. Nirut said it was necessary to extend the firm’s contract from 60 months to 85 months.