Bridge between Thailand and Japan - More opportunities for railway projects
In 2015, H. E. ACM Prajin Juntong, Transport Minister and H. E. Mr. Akhom Termpittayapaisith, Transport Deputy Minister and Secretary General of National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) of Thailand, along with other high ranking officers, visited the Rolling Stock Manufacturing & Assembly factory - J-TREC (Japan Transport Engineering Company). This follows a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony between Thailand and Japan for cooperation in the field of Railway, which includes the possible introduction of a High Speed Railway Project linking Bangkok and Chiang Mai that stretches around 660 km.
Dr. Duangkamol Kamolyabutra from TÜV SÜD Japan coordinated the visit of the Transport Minister of Thailand to Japan, and especially to the Rolling Stock Manufacturing & Assembly factory - J-TREC, a TÜV SÜD customer. Dr. Kamolyabutra, who speaks Thai, English and Japanese fluently, is renowned in the field of railway development in Thailand as he had worked for the first Thai subway operator as one of the first rolling stock and signaling engineers. With his keen interest in railway development, Dr. Kamolyabutra provided technical insights during the visit.
According to their National Development Policy, Thailand is making a strong effort to develop its railway network including urban railways, subways, intercity railways and freight trains. Coined the “Mega Project”, the country plans to invest about 3 trillion baht (approximately 10.8 trillion JPY) in the next 8 years. More than half of that budget will be allocated to railway development.
At the government level, the incumbent Thai Prime Minister has already visited Japan three times previously to discuss the cooperation for railway development between Japan and Thailand. The cooperation covers two aspects, one of which is a high-speed railway. The Thai government and Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) have signed an MoU to build a high-speed railway that stretches about 660 km from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in the north. They will soon review the existing feasibility study (FS) and conduct a detailed survey, design and determine the specifications for the establishment of the high speed rail development scheme. With regard to the second aspect, freight trains, Thailand hopes to establish a new train line spanning Myanmar, Bangkok and Cambodia.
This makes Thailand a challenging but important market for the Japanese railway industry.
The European/International standards are generally used in the requirements and specifications for the selection of railway E&M system equipment during the bidding process in Thailand. This is the first time that Japanese companies such as JR-East or J-TREC can enter the Thai railway market. Therefore, Japanese manufacturers now have to comply with international standards that they may not be familiar with. With TÜV SÜD’s extensive experience in global standards, including the functional safety standard for railways – RAMS, we can support them in demonstrating compliance. In addition, TÜV SÜD can also provide third-party assessment, testing, technology transfer (training), and technical documentation support for Japanese manufacturers.
Many development reforms are currently underway in Thailand. Of these, the development of a railway network is one of the most important issues. As part of that attempt, discussions between the Transport Minister and Deputy Transport Minister/Secretary General of NESDB of Thailand is a good starting point.