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An update on the Thai high-speed railway. According to The Nation, the Thai government is set to sign a memorandum of co-operation on the project with Japan in Tokyo next week, and the signing of the agreement will effectively green light the development of the Bangkok-Chiang Mai part of the railway.

Japan, which signalled a strong interest in to develop the project, studied a few route options and decided on the Bangkok-Chiang Mai one. The 715 km-long route is scheduled to open in 2019.

The development of the first part of the high-speed railway will be in tandem with the development of the 400 billion baht (RM42.9 billion) Bangkok-Nong Khai medium-speed rail project, which Thailand is jointly building with China.

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Construction of the medium-speed line, which will see trains operating at speeds of 160 km/h to 180 km/h, is also expected to progress rapidly, now that Thailand and China have signed a memorandum of co-operation.

It is also reported that the Thai high-speed rail, which is also expected to cost around 400 billion baht (RM42.9 billion) and which will run trains at a speed of 250 km/h, will likely adopt the same model as the medium-speed railway project.

As for the Kanchanaburi-Bangkok-Sa Kaeo railway (which includes a spur – or secondary track – from Bangkok to Laem Chabang), which Japan is also interested in, the country’s transport minister Prajin Juntong stated that there would be no new line built for that one – instead, Japan will just fill in missing links or convert parts of the primarily single existing track into a double track.