Thailand, Malaysia plan rail network to connect four Asean countries, China

Thailand’s Transport Ministry is working with its Malaysian partner to develop a high-speed rail network that will connect four member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China, according to a media report.
Permanent Secretary for Transport Chayatan Phromsorn met with his Malaysian counterpart Isham Ishak and companies from the neighbouring country to discuss ways to partner in the building of a railway linking the two countries, Vietnam+ reported, citing local media.

Malaysia earlier requested a high-speed rail connection with Thailand as a transit point to link up with Laos and China. Laos and China have been jointly operating the Laos-China Railway since December 3, 2021.
According to the media report, the Thai and Malaysian sides have discussed the project and Malaysia has agreed with Thailand’s idea of setting up a joint working panel to discuss a rail network linking China, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
The panel has been instructed to have a plan in place by Asean’s next meeting to discuss transport issues.
Malaysian officials arrived after Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob issued an order to follow up on the February 25 talks between Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail.
As scheduled, Thai authorities will visit Vientiane later this month to discuss the extension of the Laos-China Railway to Thailand.
Negotiations will take place from August 30 to September 1, focusing on the connection of the railway from Vientiane to Thailand’s Nong Khai province.
Extensions of the standard-gauge Laos-China Railway and the one-metre gauge Laos-Thailand Railway have been installed inside the Thanaleng Dry Port near the Mekong River in Laos, to facilitate the transfer of freight.
Businesses are eyeing opportunities offered by the cost-effective logistics and transport services offered by the railways and the dry port, which is an important gateway between Asean and China. SCG Logistics Management, Thailand’s leading provider of domestic and international integrated logistics services, said the new transport route incorporating the Laos-China Railway could cut costs by up to 20 percent, according to Thailand’s Bangkok Post.
SCG Logistics Management recently unveiled the new logistics route using the Laos-China Railway. It is expected that the Thailand-Laos-China route will generate 650 million baht in revenue in 2022. This will be driven by lower-cost services and streamlined one-stop customs clearance for imports and exports.
Thanks to the operation of the railways, the travel time between Chiang Rai and Kunming can be shortened from two days to about 10 to 15 hours compared to transport by road, Managing Director of SCG Logistics Management Paitoon Jiranantarat was quoted as saying by the Bangkok Post. Compared to sea freight, logistics costs can be cut by up to 20 percent for shipment to destinations such as Kunming, Chengdu and Chongqing in China, he added.
The Thailand-Laos-China rail route enables the transport of all types of products, including food, fruit and vegetables, consumer goods, construction equipment and many other items.