The Government of Thailand approved an investment plan in 2015 for rail transportation which included the implementation of total six double track projects covering 887 kilometres with a construction budget of 127 billion baht.
The double track line passing through the royal coast region is currently under construction and is anticipated to be a boon for business, tourism and reduce travel time for passengers.
Once all phases are completed, the new north-south dual track will enable passengers to travel from the new Bang Sue station in Bangkok to destinations such as Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi, Cha-Am, Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Bang Saphan Noi, Chumphon, Surat Thani, Songkhla and then onto Padang Besar on the Malaysian border.
Although not classified as high-speed trains (a separate project which has been deferred indefinitely), trains will travel at 160 km/h. This means passengers leaving Bangkok can be in Hua Hin in just two or three hours; it can take the best part of four hours to complete the journey by car.
Improvements will allow trains to operate in each direction independently as well as straightening the alignment for higher operating speeds with additional overpasses, underpasses, traffic lights and other efficiency and safety measures.
The overall strategy is to reduce travel times, increase the capacity for passenger and freight transport as well as to increase safety.
After bids for the contracts were called for in 2017, construction of the new double track railway from Nakhon Pathom – Chumphon, via Cha-Am and Hua Hin, is well underway.
Many features are now taking shape, including concrete pillars for overhead sections, rail bridges and vehicle bridges. New stations at both Cha-Am and Hua Hin are also well advanced.
Here are some details of the scope of the construction work.
The project is divided into contracts consisting of civil works and track works. The contracts cover the following sections:
- Nakhon Pathom-Nong Pla Lai
- Nong Pla Lai-Hua Hin
- Hua Hin-Prachuap Khiri Khan
- Prachuap Khiri Khan-Bang Sapan Noi and
- Bang Sapan Noi-Chumphon
The design, provision and installation of signaling and telecommunication is a separate contract from Nakhon Pathom-Chumphon).
The first contract (Nakhon Pathom-Nong Pla Lai), has a budget of 8.198 billion THB and has been under construction for 36 months. Some 83% of the 93km route is complete, 2% ahead of schedule.
The Hua Hin-Prachuap Khiri Khan route, estimated to cost 5.807 billion THB, will run a distance of 84km. Construction has been under construction for 30 months, with 82% work completed, but it is 13% behind schedule.
The contracts involve the construction of new tracks parallel to the existing track for about 420 km except at Hua Hin Station where it is elevated track for about 4 km.
Additional to the track; the following work is also included:
- Construct 423 railway bridges
- Construct 120 overpasses.
- Construct 37 U-turn bridges.
- Construct 12 underpasses.
- Construct 33 box culverts.
- Construct new or improve the existing stations, totaling 58 stations and one elevated station (Hua Hin)
- Construct 1 centralised traffic control building.
- Construct 6 container yards at Thung Ma Mao, Sam Roi Yot, Waghor, Na Phak Khuang, Map Ammarit and Sa Pli Stations.
- Design, provide and install signaling, automatic train protection, and telecommunication systems along the railway.
Unlike a number of other ‘good ideas’, the north-south double track rail project will soon become a reality; making the royal coast even more accessible for travellers who realise the many advantages of rail transport.