The Government of Thailand is to issue a bidding proposal that seeks to find private investors willing to carry out a $40bn upgrade of its rail network.
The upgrade will involve the construction of dual-track rail lines.
According to Thailand Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, the government has already approved THB123bn ($3.7bn) of the total amount earmarked for the upgrades and is planning to approve nine additional projects worth THB407bn ($12.3bn) within the end of 2018.
“We are looking for more active participation of private investment,” Termpittayapaisith said.
The proposed upgrades are part of the Thai government’s plan to reduce transport costs, as well as decrease dependence on roads and trucks and promote trade.
The country further intends to conduct a bidding process to develop a THB229bn ($6.9bn) high-speed rail project in November this year.
The 220km rail line will connect three airports, including Thailand’s main Suvarnabhumi airport.
Termpittayapaisith said that Chinese, Japanese and European firms have expressed interest in this project, which will be built and operated by private sector companies.
Thailand-based companies such as energy firm PTT, urban rail operator BTS Group and construction company CK Karnchang have also expressed their interests in this project.
The civil work will be looked after by the government, which is also planning to develop a 355km high-speed rail link together with China.
To be built with an investment of THB179bn ($54bn), the rail line will connect central and northeastern Thailand with Laos.