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Thailand on Tuesday approved construction of the first phase of a 5.5-billion US dollar railway project to link the industrial eastern seaboard with southern China through Laos.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha made use of an executive order last month to pave the way for the project, which has been beset by delays, including negotiations on loan terms.
The first phase encompasses six railway stations on a 250km high-speed line linking the Thai capital of Bangkok and the northeastern Province of Nakorn Ratchasima.
"This project is part of the development of a regional transport network, in particular China's 'One Belt One Road' initiative that will link Europe, Asia and Southeast Asia together," Korbsak Pootrakool, Vice Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, told reporters.
The link forms part of Beijing's regional infrastructure drive to connect Chinese cities with Southeast Asia, including Thailand's industrial zones and its eastern deep sea port.
Thailand's government said Thai firms will be responsible for construction while China will be responsible for the railway technology, signal systems and technical training.
"The project will use Thai materials but Chinese technology will be used in the construction," Prayuth said.
"We will send people to learn this so that we can operate the rail system ourselves in the future."