Updated November 11, 2016
Remarks on the North-South and East-West rail corridors in Thailand
It is obvious that the lack of modern transport infrastructure in most of the country is a key problem -- maybe the Number One problem because lack of infrastructure prevents other problems from being solved.
A good example is the failure of attempts to promote "decentralization" of the industry -- to get more development outside the Bangkok area. How can you expect to have industrial development in the interior of the country if the infrastructure is lacking?
In infrastructure the key problem is the lack of an efficient railroad system. You can compare with Germany, where the creation of a dense network of railroads covering the whole territory of the country was decisive for the development and economic power of the economy.
Judging from the information I have found, even the condition of existing rail network in Thailand is very bad, even collapsing in some places.
I think the North-South and East West railway projects must be used as instruments to completely change this situation. Since it will take a long time to build up the rail network in the whole territory of the country, I would propose the following priorities:
1) The North-South and East-West rail lines must be transformed into DEVELOPMENT CORRIDORS. Creating development corridors along these lines must be explicitly included in the project.
2) This is an ideal opportunity to reorient and transform the whole structure of the Thai economy, In particular to overcome the unbalanced concentration of industry around Bangkok, and bring development into the whole country. (Naturally the Kra canal will also be a development corridor),
3) Since the new rail lines will provide efficient transport in the North-South and East-West development corridors, plus efficient, direct access to the neighoring countries and to China, plus the big flow of goods along the lines, the corridors will be the ideal location for building up industry, upgrading agriculture, creating jobs and increasing the overall living standard in the surrounding regions.
4) Both the North-South and the East-West lines should become like the spine of a fish, with additional rail lines growing outward into the surrounding areas like ribs, and helping to create a full modernized national rail network.
5) Naturally the North-South corridor and the Kra Canal will combine together beautifully, each one makes the other one more important. The Kra Canal must also become a development corridor, with rail lines running parallel with the canal on both the North and South sides of the canal, and connecting with the North-South rail corridor (which will cross the Kra by tunnel, or maybe by high bridge). In this way the big ports and industrial parks at the two ends of the Kra Canal (and economic centers along the canal) will be connected up with the interior of the country via the new/modernized North-South line. The combination of the Kra Canal and the North-South rail corridor will strengthen the unity of the country and provide ideal conditions to develop the South.