The rail network in Thailand, particularly outside Bangkok, has been under-developed for a long time, resulting in the cargo transport by rail accounting for only 2% of Thailand’s total in 2010 (source: National Infrastructure Development Strategy – Transport, 2013-2020, Office of Transport and Logistics Policy and Planning, Ministry of Transport). To spread economic development and urbanization across the country and reduce reliance on road transport, which is more costly, rail network development is included as a top priority in the National Infrastructure Development Strategy – Transport, 2013-2020. This would entail several opportunities for the private sector to participate in various aspects of the rail network development projects.
In light of the above development, EABC has formed the Rail & Road Infrastructure Working Group focusing at this stage on the rail network development. With the goal of enhancing the competitiveness of the European business interests, the Working Group has set the following agenda:
|i. Adoption of the European standard for rolling stock
||The European standard for rolling stock was widely regarded as the best, and adoption of the standard by Thailand would enhance the European industry’s competitive advantage.
|ii. Skills development for Thai engineers in the rail industry
||To support adoption of higher standard, it was important that the Thai engineers have good knowledge and skills in relevant fields.
|iii. Public procurement system Thailand’s public procurement for the rail development has been dominated by the Thai contractors, and, to a lesser extent, the Japanese.
||For the Europeans to have a better chance in Thailand’s public procurement, having a supporting mechanism similar to JICA, where financial institutes, contractors and developers were brought together, was viewed as helpful.