During his tour, from Dec 18-22, Governor Chockchai visited the manufacturing plant of rolling-stock giant CRRC Company in Changsha, the capital of central China’s Hunan province.
CRRC designs and manufactures anything from diesel and electric locomotives to high-speed rail capable of more than 350kmh, but also more pertinently for Phuket the company built and delivered the “island-rounded tram” for Haizhu, Guangzhou, with a capacity of 368 passengers and a design speed of 70kmh and the larger LRV for the extension line of Ampang, Malaysia, with a capacity of 1,300 passengers and a design speed of 80kmh.
The company has also built a reputation for world-class mass transport systems. As recently as Nov 28 the company announced it had been selected to deliver High Capacity Metro Trains (HCMT) in a public-private partnership (PPP) for Melbourne, Australia, worth AU$2 billion (B51.673bn).
In March this year, the company secured a US$1.3 billion (B46.839bn) deal to provide rail cars to Chicago.
Top choice for Gov Chockchai from the factory floor were the electric-battery powered trams.
“This form of light-rail means no overhead power cables are necessary, which will make our light-rail safer,” Gov Chockchai told The Phuket News.
“Also, these trams have a quick recharge time, which means they can begin moving again without long delays,” he added.
Gov Chockchai declined to reveal any further details about his trip to China, but promised to put forward his suggestions to the steering committee overseeing the Phuket light-rail project.
“We exchanged ideas about Phuket transportation, and Phuket will definitely have light-rail in the future,” Governor Chockchai said.
“And the light-rail systems used in China should be the model for Phuket,” he added. “Phuket has some serious traffic congestion, and the island will be better off with public transportation such as light-rail or electric trains.”
Governor Chockchai said he expected further studies to take at least two more months before the Phuket light-rail plan is finalised, including the final budget allocated for construction.
However, the Ministry of Transport in its national “Transport Infrastructure Investment Plan 2017” issued on Dec 13 reported that the Phuket mass-transit project was still listed under “Policy driven projects” – the lowest listed stage of development for any transport infrastructure project.
Even the two-decades-in-coming Patong Tunnel project had advanced further and was listed as a Stage 4 “Cabinet and PPP Committee Approval” project, leaving that project with three more stages to advance before any action is taken.
At last report in July this year, then-Governor of Phuket Chamroen Tipayapongtada annoucned he had high hopes for construction of Phuket’s light-rail system to begin next year.
At that same meeting in July, representatives from the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planing (OTP) explained details of the construction plan as designed by the OTP. (See story here.)
OTP Deputy Director Chaiwat Tongkamkoon then in November last year announced that the planned light-rail will start at Tha Noon in Phang Nga, on the north side of the bridges from Phuket to the mainland, and terminate just north of Chalong Circle, passing through Phuket Town and 23 stations en route and covering a total distance of 60 kilometres. (See story here.)
At that time OTP Deputy Director Chaiwat announced the projected budget was B23.5bn.
A release issued by the Phuket PR Dept last week also reporting Gov Chockchai’s visit to China noted the project value was now B30bn (US$832 million).