The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) has announced that construction bids for the THB35bn ($1.15bn) Phuket tram system will begin next year.

Bangkok Post has reported MRTA governor Pakapong Sirikantaramas as saying that the revised design of the system is subject to the clearance of the MRTA board.

The altered design includes tunnels and elevated sections to prevent any additional traffic congestion. After the design is approved, the Transport Ministry and the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) committee will have to approve the proposal.

In total, the tracks will span more than 41.7km from Phuket International Airport to Chalong intersection. The western section will span 35.9km, connecting the Thailand Cultural Centre with Bang Khun Non located near the Chao Phraya River.

Once completed, the line is expected to handle 70,000 passengers daily. Fares will be calculated based on the travelled distance.

The project is part of the PPP Net Cost scheme, where the private sector bears the costs and risks supported by the government’s THB27bn ($891m) funding. Any revenue from the tram system will be shared with the government for a 28-year period, which includes three years of construction.

Sirikantaramas also said that the bidding round for the western section of MRTA’s Orange Line, worth TBH200bn ($6.6bn), has been postponed by five months.

In October, the Government of Thailand and a Charoen Pokphand Holding-led consortium signed a THB224.5bn ($7.4bn) agreement to build a high-speed rail network to connect three major airports. The 220km-long high-speed railway line will connect Suvarnabhumi Airport with Don Mueang International Airport and U-Tapao International Airport.

In April, Cambodia and Thailand revived a cross-border railway link 45 years after its closure in order to cut travel times and encourage trade between the countries.