The Bangkok–Nong Khai high-speed railway is a planned railway that will connect Bangkok to Nong Khai in northeast Thailand on the Laos border. It will then be connected to the China-Laos railway in Laos, providing a railway connection from Bangkok to Vientiane, and onwards to Kunming in China. This new railway is a double-track standard-gauge line that follows the same route as the current Northeastern line.
The project is also referred to as the China-Thailand Railway project, in reference to being built in partnership with Chinese companies (China Railway International and China Railway Design Corp).
The new railway was first proposed in 2010 alongside four other proposed high-speed railways from Bangkok. After years of delays due to terms of the arrangement with China and the 2014 coup, work officially began in 2017 before being delayed again. The project is now back on track, and the first stage between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima is scheduled to open in 2023.
Phase 1 of construction is for the 253km section between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima, at a cost of Bt50.63-billion ($1.67 billion USD). Stations in this section include Bang Sue, Don Muang, Ayutthaya, Saraburi, Pak Chong, and Nakhon Ratchasima.
Phase 2 of the 354.5km section from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai is still in draft. The stations will include Nakhon Ratchasima, Bua Yai, Ban Phai, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, and Nong Khai.
A new bridge will be built on the Thailand-Laos border for the railway.
The total length will be 607.5 km long with an operating speed of 250 km/h. By comparison, the current Bangkok–Nong Khai railway is a length of 647.5 km and takes 9 hours and 25 minutes (an average speed of 68 km/h).
The new railway will be able to travel between Bangkok and Vientiane in under 3 hours, making it a competitive alternative to flying. Bangkokians will have the opportunity to take weekend trips to Luang Prabang by rail. It will turn Ayuthaya into a viable Bangkok commuter city, and it will put the Isaan cities of Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen, and Udon Thani within a day trip to Bangkok.
The current Bangkok–Nong Khai railway is a single-track metre-gauge railway. It is currently being double-tracked, and the line will be retained for local and freight services. There will be new stations built for the high-speed line, and in Bangkok the railway will depart from Bang Sue Grand Station.
The China-Laos railway (Boten-Vientiane railway) is expected to be completed by the end of 2021, so by the time the Bangkok–Nong Khai project is finished it will be ready to travel to Vientiane and the rest of Laos.
Bangkok–Nong Khai High-Speed Railway Map
[Map of Bangkok–Nong Khai high-speed railway.]
Hi-speed rail work delayed over curbs – [27/07/21] “The government’s ban on moving construction workers during the latest Covid-19 uptick has adversely impacted the progress of the Thai-Chinese high-speed rail project, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) said on Tuesday.”
Top court backs injunction on Sino-Thai rail sections – [01/06/21] “The Supreme Administrative Court on Monday upheld a lower court injunction to temporarily suspend the selection of a constructor for two sections of the Thai-Chinese rail project in the Northeast.”
High-speed rail hits bump in Ayutthaya – [29/05/21] “UN tells developer to mind heritage site”
From Bangkok to Nong Khai: China’s Thai railway vision edges forward – [26/04/21]
China, Thailand sign agreement on high-speed rail line, set to open in 2026 – [29/03/21] “The first 251-kilometer leg connecting the Thai capital, Bangkok, and Nakhon Ratchasima, better known as Korat, in northeastern Thailand, is expected to be completed and open to traffic in 2026, China’s national broadcaster CCTV said on Monday.”
Thai/Chinese high speed train from Bangkok to Nong Khai moves a small step closer to reality – [15/03/21] “Daily News reported that the State Railways of Thailand said that the Thai and Chinese governments would be signing four contracts related to the building of the high speed train from the Thai capital Bangkok to Nong Khai in the north east.”
Court suspends construction contract of Malaysian firm for Thai-Chinese railway – [26/02/21]
CRCC units win rail contract in Thailand – [28/12/20] “Thailand has awarded a $US 415m contract for construction of a section of the 900km Bangkok – Nong Khai high-speed line to two subsidiaries of China Railway Construction Corp (CRCC).”
B40bn high-speed train contracts inked – [26/11/20] “The State Railway of Thailand on Thursday signed five more contracts, worth about 40 billion baht, for work on the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway project between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima.”
Bangkok-Nong Khai high-speed rail contract inked with China – [28/10/20]
“The Bt50.63-billion contract is for Phase 1 of the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima high-speed railway, which will run from Bangkok to Nong Khai. The contract covers construction of the track and electrical, signalling and communication systems, procurement of trains, maintenance and technology transfer.Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said that Phase 1 comprises a 253-kilometre stretch of track with six stations – Bang Sue, Don Muang, Ayutthaya, Saraburi, Pak Chong and Nakhon Ratchasima.”
[PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, centre, presides over the signing ceremony.]
How a Thai railway could fast-track China’s interests in Southeast Asia – [13/10/20]
High-speed rail project gets B12bn budget boost – [30/09/20] “The cabinet yesterday gave permission for the Transport Ministry to increase its budget by 12 billion baht for the Thai-Chinese high-speed rail project that is planned to run from Bangkok to Nong Khai province in the North.”
High-speed railway between Thailand and China signing expected in October – [26/05/20]
“The signing of “Contract 2.3″ for the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima high-speed railway between Thailand and China is expected in October, said Thai Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob.”
Hi-speed rail project set for more talks – [04/11/19] “Thai, Chinese leaders hope for breakthrough at crunch meeting.}
Will the high-speed train fuel a Northeast Thailand property boom? – [10/09/19] “Many investors and large-scale developers continue to focus on Bangkok and Thailand’s tourist destinations to extend their reach. But are they are overlooking exceptional opportunities elsewhere in the Kingdom? According to Isan Real Estate, the answer is a resounding yes. In particular, the agency believes Nong Khai, Udon Thani and Khon Kaen are brimming with potential.”
Thai-Chinese high-speed rail to start operating in 2023 -official – [03/09/19]
Cabinet sets second high-speed rail phase rolling – [03/07/19] “The cabinet yesterday approved the first sum of 112 million baht of the 751-million-baht budget required for financing the design of the second phase of the Thai-Chinese high-speed train project in the Northeast.”
Thailand says ‘making progress’ with high-speed Thai-Chinese railway – [24/04/19] “Thailand’s government said it is “making progress” with the much-delayed high-speed Thai-Chinese rail line that is to link Thailand, Laos and China, as the three countries prepared to ink another agreement this week at Beijing’s Belt and Road summit.”
China wants to fund Thailand’s US$12 billion high-speed railway – but is the kingdom on track for more debt than it can handle? – [24/04/19]
Thailand to sign pact with China, Laos on bridge for high-speed railway – [23/04/19] “Thailand, China and Laos will sign a memorandum of cooperation on a new bridge for a railway across the Mekong River during Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha’s Beijing visit”.
Will Thailand’s Chinese high-speed railway be worth it? – [06/03/20] “The government is rushing ahead with the high-speed rail, even as the public is left in the dark.”
Fast trains to Laos ‘in 4 years’ – [06/03/19] “The government will push for completion of the Thai-Sino high-speed railway project linking Bangkok and Nong Khai by 2023 so it can connect to another fast rail project in Laos, said Nathporn Chatusripitak, a spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.”
Thailand’s China-backed Bangkok-Nong Khai railway back on move – [17/01/19]
Works on Thai-Chinese high-speed rail to commence in 2019 – [25/11/18]
“The Thai government will begin construction of the first phase of the remaining three sections of the Thai-Chinese high-speed rail between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima in April next year, the National News Bureau of Thailand announced on November 25. The route is planned to begin operations in 2022.”
Construction of Thai-Chinese high-speed rail to start fully next year: Thai official – [03/06/18] “The construction of a Thai-Chinese high-speed rail between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima in northeastern Thailand is expected to get fully started early next year, following biddings later this year, said Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith on Friday.”
Railroaded: The Chinese high-speed train network no one else really wants – [22/05/18] “Li Guanghe has built some of the most technically complex railroads in China. Now he faces his toughest challenge yet: working abroad to deliver a flagship rail project in Thailand that could make or break China’s hopes of selling high-speed trains abroad.”
Thai-Chinese rail project falls in price – [22/03/18] “Nakhon Ratchasima: A 3.5-kilometre pilot stretch of the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway in this northeastern province will be 9% cheaper than its initial valuation of 398 million baht, said Thanin Somboon, chief of the Department of Highways (DOH).”
Laos could take part in Thailand-China HSR project – [16/02/18] “Thailand and China will hold talks with Laos about connecting the high-speed train system from Nong Khai to Vientiane.”
After delays, ground broken for Thailand-China railway project – [21/12/17]
“Construction of a long-awaited Thai-Chinese railway line that will link Thailand, Laos and China officially began on Thursday with a ground-breaking ceremony in the northeastern Thai province of Nakhon Ratchasima.”
High-speed rail project delayed due to EIA review – [16/11/17] “Construction work has been delayed until the middle of next month for the initial 3.5-kilometre stretch of the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway in Nakhon Ratchasima, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said yesterday.”
Bangkok-Korat high speed rail project to break ground in November – [26/09/17] “The Ministry of Transport expects construction of the first stretch of the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima (a.k.a. Korat) high-speed rail project to start in November. The first stretch of the route will be built over 3.5 kilometers. The project will be implemented by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) in cooperation with a team of Chinese engineers”.
Thailand signs deals with Chinese state firms for high-speed railway – [06/09/17] “Thailand have signed two contracts, worth 5.2 billion baht ($157 million), with Chinese state enterprises for a high-speed rail project with China, Anon Luengboriboon, acting governor of the State Railway of Thailand, told Reuters on Wednesday.”
Thailand approves long-delayed US$5.2b rail link to China – [11/07/17] “Thailand on Tuesday approved US$5.2 billion for the construction of the first stretch of a long-delayed high-speed railway that will ultimately connect to China, part of its belt and road infrastructure plan.”
Academics concerned over Chinese exemptions for high-speed rail project – [16/06/17] “Academics and professional bodies are concerned about the government’s accountability for potential damages that may arise after multiple legal exemptions were granted to the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway project under Article 44 of the interim charter.”
China to help Thailand-Laos railway construction – [11/05/17]
China-Thailand railway to begin construction in early 2017 – [18/12/16]
“The planned China-Thailand railway linking the Thai-Lao border with Bangkok will benefit Thailand as the high-speed railway is expected to improve local people’s livelihood, the Thai transport minister said.”
‘Invite Bids For Train Project’ – Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima Rail – [01/04/16]
“The government should call an international bid for the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima high-speed-rail project, as it is no longer a joint venture with China, according to transport experts.”
Thailand to go it alone on Thai-Sino high-speed rail – [24/03/16]
“Thailand has decided to wholly invest in the Thai-Sino railway project after it failed to agree in talks with China on the terms of the arrangement which has set back progress for months.”
Thai-Chinese railway project to begin by the end of 2016: Thai media – [16/02/16]
“Thai-Chinese Bt500-billion medium-speed railway project could be signed by the end of this year, Thai media outlets reported on Monday.”
Sino-Thai railway responsibilities set – [17/11/15] “The cabinet on Tuesday approved a framework for Thailand and China’s distribution of responsibilities in implementing the Thai section of the transnational railway from southern China to the Gulf of Thailand.”
China wins Thai railway construction bid after tough negotiations – [28/08/15] “After many ups and downs, China has finally won the railway cooperation project with Thailand. Zhu Xijun, general manager of the Southeast Asia Company of China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), said on Aug 26 that after six rounds of negotiation, both sides plan to sign the inter-governmental framework agreement on the China-Thailand Railway project in early September, and the commencement ceremony of the project is expected to be held in the end of October”.
China derails plan for high speed railway through Thailand opting for slower option – [26/06/15]
Thai standard-gauge railway deal signed – [13/03/15] “Construction of a new network of standard-gauge lines in Thailand moved a step closer on March 12, when the Chinese and Thai governments signed an agreement to jointly build and operate two lines linking the northeastern province of Nong Khai with Bangkok and Rayong on the east coast.”
Thailand approves $10bn rail scheme with China – [05/12/14] “Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly (NLA) has approved a draft memorandum of understanding with China to jointly build a $10.64bn rail project in Thailand as part of a long-term scheme to develop the country’s transport infrastructure.”
China-Thailand high-speed rail project back on track – [06/08/14] “Thailand’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has approved a US$23 billion project to connect two high speed railways with China’s rail network by 2021.”
Thailand’s ruling junta approves China rail links worth $23bn – [01/08/14]
Funding for Laos-China rail link hinges on Thai project – [17/07/13] “Chinese authorities are waiting for Thailand to confirm that it will proceed with a high-speed rail project linking neighboring Laos before Beijing finalizes a loan for Laos to build an ambitious rail link with China, according to a Chinese diplomat.”
High speed rail to Bangkok – [18/12/12] “Transport Minister Chatchat Sittiphan announced earlier this week that Thailand will build two, high-speed railway lines, one running from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and the other running from Bangkok to the northeastern province of Nong Khai.”
High-speed train on track for 2015 – [08/11/12] “The high-speed train project linking Thailand, Laos and southern China’s Kunming province could start in 2015 in time for the launch of the Asean Economic Community, people with knowledge of the matter said on the sidelines of the Asia Europe Meeting in Vientiane from November 5 to 6.”
Thailand revises high-speed rail plan, Laos link shelved – [23/08/11]
Bangkok-Nong Khai high-speed train project to be completed late 2015 – [29/11/10] “A high-speed train project, a planned joint investment project between Thailand and China, which will link between the Thai capital and Nong Khai province bordering Laos is expected to be completed in late 2015, said Supoj Saplom, permanent secretary for Thai Transport Ministry.”
Rail plans with China endorsed – [12/11/10] “The cabinet yesterday approved joint investment plans with China for three high-speed train routes: Nong Khai-Bangkok, Bangkok-Padang Besar, and Bangkok-Rayong.”
Thailand to negotiate with China on high-speed proposal – [28/10/10] “The Thai parliament has voted in favour of starting negotiations with China on a proposal by the Chinese to construct a national network of high-speed lines in Thailand.”