Rail to Thailand
Trends and opportunities
Thailand is situated in a strategic location at the centre of the ASEAN
region where the major form of transport is by road. This reliance on road
transport has resulted in urban congestion, energy inefficiencies, traffic
safety problems and environmental challenges.
Thailand currently has around 4,180 km of rail tracks connecting 46
provinces. The country has three types of rail tracks:
single tracks account for 3,901 km (93.3 per cent of total railways)
- 220 km of dual tracks (5.3 per cent)
- 59 km of triple tracks (1.4 per cent)
Thailand is keen to overcome these challenges by developing its rail system
to support the continued growth of goods transport and also increase the
numbers of passengers regularly using rail on urban and inter-city
Rail Infrastructure Development Plan
In December 2016, the cabinet approved a A$ 33.2 bn infrastructure plan for
developing 20 infrastructure projects through 2022. This budget comes up on
top of a A$ 61bn plan announced in 2015.
(Source: Thailand Infrastructure Report Q1 2018 – Business Monitor
International P. 14)
The massive development program covers five key strategies as follows:
- Intercity rail networks
- Public transport networks and services
- Enhancing connectivity with neighboring countries
- Increasing water transport networks
- Enhancing air transport capability
The majority of the budget is devoted to railway development, covering
expansion of Bangkok’s rail transit system, high-speed trains, construction
of new railway lines, conversion of existing railways to dual-track and
improving connections to neighboring countries.
This development plan reflects Thailand’s vision of becoming a key
strategic and logistics gateway to the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).
Key Rail Projects
- Meter-gauge dual track railways (5 projects)
- Standard-gauge, dual track railways between Bangkok and industrial and
tourist areas (4 projects)
- Expansion of urban mass rapid transit in Bangkok and suburbs (5 lines)
- High Speed Trains – China and Thailand are planning the A$ 6.9bn, 250 km
first phase of a high-speed 873 km railway that will eventually link
Bangkok and the Chinese city of Kunming, via a segment in Laos. The Thai
government has also promised that a proposed high-speed railway between
Bangkok and Chiang Mai, a major province in the north of Thailand, will use
Japanese bullet train technology
(Source: Thailand Infrastructure Report Q1 2018 – Business Monitor
- The Thai Government aims to increase the rail’s share of freight
transport from two per cent to eight per cent by 2020, plus reduce its
dependency on fossils fuel and lower gas emissions
- Under Thailand 4.0 policy, the Government is developing the Eastern
Economic Corridor (EEC) as a modern metropolitan, a hub of trade and
investment, a center for regional transportation and logistics, a
significant source for human resources, a tourist attraction and most
importantly, the most modern Gateway to Asia
(Source: The Bangkok Post – BOI’s Incentives in the EEC – 28 February
- The EEC’s Land Transportation Development Plan include a new high speed
train linking the three main international airports: Don Muang,
Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao; and the double-track rail lines, connecting
industrial zones nationwide and also Laem Chabang, Map Ta Phut, and a new
Sattahip Deep Sea Port
(Source: The Eastern Economic Thailand Office, 27 June 2017)
- As part of Smart Cities initiatives in Thailand, there are also plans for
public transport development (Light Rail Projects) in the major provinces
i.e. Phuket (south), Khon Kaen (northeast) and Chiang Mai (north)
Opportunities for Australia
- Rail modernization and track rehabilitation. Thailand’s
rail lines have long been in need of an upgrade, particularly for rail
junction and links, as well as tunnels in order to prevent bottlenecks.
- Rail safety has become a critical issue following a
number of derailments over the last couple of years and several accidents
caused by the lack of signaling equipment at various roads and railways
- Transport technology and innovations such as Intelligent
Transport System (ITS)
- Freight and heavy haul. Australia is well known among
Thai rail academics and industry contacts for its experience and
- Infrastructure and system development. Joint venture
partners or sub-contractors with local construction firms for railway lines
and tracking systems.
- Manufacturing, component supplies and related services.
Technology transfer of manufacturing techniques is also an option to gain
entry into the market.
- Education and skills development of rail engineers and
technicians to meet the increasing demand for expertise in Thailand.
Contribution to Academia and Knowledge Capacity Building activities may lead to business and commercial outcomes.
Funding arrangements for Infrastructure Investment Plans
- Proposed financing sources are the annual budget, government borrowing,
revenue from State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) and Private-Public Partnerships
- Thailand’s PPP Law has been in effect since 4 April 2013 and aims to
encourage more private participation and involvement; upgrade the
administration of government projects; and stimulate the use of more
- A series of infrastructure funds by the Ministry of Finance to seek
private investment for public infrastructure projects.
Key rail operators are
The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) is Thailand’s largest state enterprise,
responsible for national rail network and the Airport Rail Link, a commuter
rail from Suvarnabhumi International Airport to train stations in central
- Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) is the government’s
state enterprise responsible for overseeing the operation of the mass rapid
transit in Bangkok and its vicinity including in other provinces or between
Bangkok Expressway and Metro Public Company Limited (BEM) is a private
transportation company in Thailand. Under 25-year concession agreements
with MRTA, BEM operates two metro lines (i.e. the MRT Blue Line and MRT
Purple Line). Also BEM won contracts to build or operate three expressways
in Bangkok (namely the Si Rat expressway, Si Rat - Outer Ring Road
Expressway and Udon Ratthaya Expressway
Bangkok’s Skytrain (BTS) is operated by Bangkok Mass Transit System Public
Co., Ltd. (BTS) under a concession granted by the Bangkok Metropolitan
Current major suppliers for urban rail and SRT include Siemens, GE,
Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Alstom and Bombardier. The Thai Government have had
discussions and agreements with China and Japan on the joint construction
and operation of high speed railway lines.
Tariffs, regulations and customs
Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA)
has eliminated the majority of Thai tariffs on goods imported from
Australia. The reduction of Thailand's previously high tariff barriers (for
some goods, up to 200 per cent) is a significant win for Australian
businesses, opening up a range of export opportunities in Southeast Asia's
second-largest economy. TAFTA also improves the environment for bilateral
services trade and investment.
Another agreement is the
ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA)
. The countries of ASEAN - Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos,
Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - constitute one
of the most dynamic economic regions in the world.
Marketing your products and services
Local agents/distributors are required to bid for projects.
Links and industry contacts
Government, business and trade resources
Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement Portal
Bangkok Expressway and Metro Public Co. Ltd (BEM)
Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP)
State Railway of Thailand (SRT)
Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA)
The Ministry of Transport (MoT)
The Bangkok Post
Australian Embassy Bangkok
Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce
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