The Thai government is planning to open international bidding in early 2013 for the first phase of a high-speed train project planned to be built at an investment of THB400bn ($12.69bn).
The Thai Transport Ministry is expected to propose the master plan for cabinet approval later in 2012.
According to the government, the project is part of its THB2.2 trillion ($69.83bn) infrastructure investment programme to be implemented over the coming years.
Under the plan, four routes will be opened for bidding with companies from China, South Korea, Japan and France reportedly interested in the project.
The proposed high-speed train routes will span 250km, connecting Bangkok-Pattaya, Bangkok-Pitsanulok, Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima and Bangkok-Hua Hin.
Construction work on the four routes is expected to be completed in 2018.
In the second stage, which is scheduled to be completed by 2022, new high-speed lines will be added, including routes from Bangkok-Rayong, Bangkok-Chiang Mai, Bangkok-Nong Khai and Bangkok-Hat Yai.
Construction of the high-speed rail lines, which will be used for freight and passenger services, will be carried out alongside existing railway routes.
The Thai government expects that after completion of the projects, the country's goods shipment transportation total usage will eventually increase to 80%, compared to only 2% now.