Construction of high-speed railway linking three airports delayed by a year: EEC
The chief of the Eastern Economic Corridor Office on Thursday said that the construction of a high-speed railway linking three airports will be a year behind schedule.
EEC chief Jula Sukmanop said Asia Era One Co Ltd, the concessionaire of the Don Mueang-Suvarnabhumi-U-Tapao high-speed railway, could not begin construction this year as it was still awaiting an approval of investment privileges from the Board of Investment.
Jula said the construction would take four years and if it started next year, the high-speed railway would begin operations in 2028, a year behind schedule.
Jula said Asia Era One blamed the delay on government agencies for failing to facilitate construction. The company has called on the government to amend the 50-year public-private partnership contract to minimise delays.
The proposal has met strong opposition from the Pheu Thai, which says such a contract amendment must wait to be approved by the next elected government.
Jula said the contract need not be amended now but it was possible to add causes for delays, such as the Covid pandemic, among force majeure events so that the company could be treated leniently if the project is delayed.
Jula said the EEC would next send a draft on adding force majeure causes to the Council of State for checking before passing it on to the EEC board of directors for endorsement and then approval by the Cabinet.
As part of the contract, Asia Era One won the concession to operate the Airport Rail Link in exchange for a fee of 10.671 billion baht plus an interest of 1.06 billion baht. A sum of 1.067 billion baht is to be paid per instalment for the first six instalments and 5.328 billion baht for the last instalment.
The instalments are scheduled to be paid within October 24 each year.
But Asia Era One said the Covid pandemic had caused the number of Airport Rail Link passengers to drop significantly, hence it was seeking an amendment to the contract to delay or lower the instalment payments.
Jula added that this year, Asia Era One is required to pay three instalments totalling 3.201 billion baht.