BYLINE: Saravudh Dhamasiri

General ManagerState Railway of Thailand

DOUBLE TRACKING, electrification, new rolling stock and resignalling are spearheading investment plans in Thailand. More than 180bn baht (US$4·5bn) will be spent by SRT over the next 10 years.

The package of modernisation measures includes construction of several new lines (Table I), which will in due course add more than 600 km to the 4043route-km network. The last section of new line was opened in 1995 when a branch off the Sattahip line was completed to Map Ta Phut on the east coast of the Bight of Bangkok; the Sattahip line was constructed in the early 1980s.

Thailand’s earliest railway was built to standard gauge over the 264 km from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima in 1900. But metre gauge was dominating developments in neighbouring Burma and Malaysia, and almost all subsequent routes were built to metre gauge for compatibility; conversion to metre gauge was completed by 1930. From then until the early 1980s, the only network extension was the 624 km line to Nong Khai, which opened in 1958. Now major expansion is once again under way.

Three-way expansion

Detailed engineering design for three new lines is now complete. They will be single track with passing loops, but with provision for double tracking later.