In spite of many predictions and promises, there is still no final Cabinet approval for the long-anticipated high-speed train network linking the two Bangkok airports with the now-expanded U-tapao airport near Rayong. According to the Eastern Economic Corridor, which sponsors Thai and foreign mega-projects, a final sign-off will be left to the government incoming after the general election expected in May. There still needs to be negotiation about construction and expropriation of property details.
The 220-billion baht project will allow super-fast, express trains to travel at speeds up to 250 km per hour. Supporters of the project envision a Chinese model in which sleek trains will pinball around the country, reducing road traffic logjams and enabling tourists, business people and freight to reach their destinations fast. Critics say that China is a much bigger country and that the high cost over relatively-short distances in Thailand poses quite different issues, including anticipated fare costs to the general public.
Although some property gurus say that the rising price of property in the eastern provinces (which include Pattaya and Rayong) is dependent on a fast-train future, others deny the claim. Colliers International, for instance, points out that the property market is being driven by real demand and good roads between cities to transport goods and people. The consensus view is that the rail project will go ahead but that the first trains are unlikely to run before 2028 at the earliest.