High-Speed Rail Linking Nong Khai, Vientiane Expected to Complete in 2028

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The Fuxing Hao CR300 train made by China's CRRC, which will run between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima. (Photo: State Railway of Thailand)

The Nong Khai-Vientiane stretch of the Thai-China high-speed rail (HSR) project is anticipated to conclude construction in 2028, revealed Thai Deputy Transport Minister Surapong Piyachote on 14 December.

With an estimated cost of THB 3 billion (approximately USD 86 million), the 7.3-kilometer section will undergo a feasibility study commissioned by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT). The final design selection is expected in the upcoming year, followed by the bidding process scheduled to kick off in 2025.

Thailand is advancing its goal of integrating the rail system with the Bangkok-Nong Khai high-speed train project, aiming to bolster regional connectivity and trade prospects with China via the Laos-China Railway. 

Notably, Thai fruit exports, particularly durian, have seen significant growth in 2023. The Nong Khai crossing has witnessed substantial growth, with fresh durian exports dominating at over THB 2 billion (USD 57 million), reflecting a 364 percent surge from 2022.

The entire Thai section of the Thai-China HSR project, covering 606 kilometers from Nong Khai to Bangkok, is in progress. 

However, the initial phase, which aims to lay 253 kilometers of tracks between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima at a cost of THB 179 billion (around USD 5 billion), is only 28.6 percent complete. Delays attributed to land expropriation issues have hindered progress, impacting the project’s timeline, which ideally should now be 50 percent, as reported by the Bangkok Post.

Additionally, concerns regarding the project’s impact on World Heritage sites have prompted a wait for the assessment results required by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), according to Surapong.

Nonetheless, the feasibility study for the segment connecting Nakhon Ratchasima and Nong Khai has been finalized. However, the Ministry awaits the submission of the environmental impact assessment from the SRT. 

Upon completion, these segments are expected to enhance cargo and passenger movements between Thailand and China.