BANGKOK, THAILAND – The importance of reforms and upgrades to Thailand’s railway system was emphasized today at a workshop co-hosted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Ministry of Finance (MOF), and Ministry of Transport (MOT).
“Reform of Thailand’s railway system is critical not only to improve the competitiveness and efficiency of the Thai economy, but would serve as a key infrastructure hub for the whole of the Mekong Sub-region and beyond,” said Stephen Groff, ADB Vice President for East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
The workshop was the last in a series of meetings to discuss and clarify how best to develop a railway system to meet the needs of Thailand’s economic and social development over the coming decades. Delegates reviewed the government’s reform plan, defined a common target for reform, and outlined next steps in the reform process.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Kittiratt Na-Rarong affirmed in his opening remarks that modernization and rehabilitation of the Thailand railway system remains a key government priority, one that will include massive spending to rebuild existing infrastructures as well as construct new railway lines. This will be accompanied by refinancing and reforming the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) and creating new institutions both inside and out of the MOT to better manage railway assets and define standards for safety and operations.
Chadchart Suttipunt, Minister of Transport, confirmed the strength of ongoing cooperation between the Ministry and ADB, both for the railway reform agenda and for ongoing support to the SRT. ADB has been working with the Thai government to define the problems, achieve consensus on goals for the reform agenda, and to outline institutional and financial options for the reform program.
Prapat Chongsanguan, Governor of the SRT, gave a presentation on operational steps in implementing the reform agenda, in which he highlighted policy changes on the development of the SRT business plan.
The workshop was attended by more than 70 delegates from various government agencies, think tanks, private sector, and other development partners.