In a significant development, the Eastern Economic Corridor of Thailand (EECO) has given the green light for a feeder electric train project that will seamlessly connect with the high-speed rail link connecting the capital's airports to U-Tapao Airport. This approval follows a public hearing organized by the EECO in Ban Chang district, which included local administration representatives and focused on the development of a feeder transport system for the high-speed railway.
Two distinct railway systems were proposed during the hearing, one based on traditional existing road routes and the other on a fixed guideway system. Ultimately, the panel favored the fixed guideway-based system, which encompasses two primary types of train and railway systems: a conventional rail-based system (e.g., trams, or tram-trains) and a contemporary transit system (e.g., monorails, automated guideway transits, and urban maglevs).
The proposed feeder train will operate along three potential routes, namely the Northern Railway from the EEC-Sri Racha high-speed station in Chonburi, the Western Railway from the EEC-Pattaya high-speed station, and the Southern Railway from the EEC-U-Tapao high-speed station.
Based on considerations related to engineering, economics, and the environment, the Southern Railway emerged as the most suitable choice. This region will serve as a pilot area for further studies and the fundamental project design, according to Karn Chaloemwongphan, an expert in traffic and transport models at EECO.
The feeder train is expected to be elevated for at least 20 kilometers, covering areas spanning from Bang Lamung and Sattahip districts in Chonburi region, through to the Ban Chang district in Rayong. It will originate at the EEC, transitioning into a flyover near the Huay Yai police station along Highway 331. The route will continue along Highway No.7 (Khao Chi Chan and Khao Chi Oan) before reaching Highway No.3, also known as Sukhumvit Road.
Following the public hearing, EECO and its project consultants will collect feedback to enhance the construction plans for the feeder train. These refined details will be presented at a subsequent hearing.
This crucial 192-kilometer high-speed rail link project is vital for managing the expected surge in traffic volume attributed to the growing importance of U-Tapao Airport within the EEC. The rail link is scheduled to be operational in 2025, positioning U-Tapao as an additional International Airport for commercial flights, thereby boosting the EEC's connectivity and economic prospects.