US$21 billion to expand Bangkok's Rail Transit

June 26, 2020

The Thai government has committed to spending more than US$21 billion to expand Bangkok's rail transit, extend train lines, and build high-speed rails -- with a massive $1.3 billion hub at the center that will become South-East Asia's largest train station when it opens in 2021.

The rail network is a flagship infrastructure project that's viewed as a major support for an economy reeling from a severe drought and a slump in tourism as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The majority of the $33-billion infrastructure budget over the next three years will be spent on rail projects, with the goal that it will bring more private investment and boost consumption as Thailand seeks to recover from the slowest growth in five years.

The development will double the state passenger rail's capacity and triple the freight capacity through track doubling. It's expected to serve more than 22 million commercial passengers annually after the upgrade, and transport more than 30 million tonnes of commodities.

High-speed rail will connect key Thai cities to Bangkok, a city of 10 million residents and 20 million visitors where the transit system will also double in number of lines.

The state rail network reached 3,300km in 1951, but has only added about 700km over the past 69 years. By 2037, the network length is expected grow by 60% with routes added to tourist destinations and border towns.