Capability Enhancement on High-Speed Rail
According to Thai government’s policy on Thailand’s Transport Infrastructure Development Strategy as a master plan of the National Infrastructure Development under the National Strategy (2018-2037), the country intends to increase connectivity systematically within sub-regional frameworks and ASEAN, strengthen domestic networks that connect with transnational economic corridors. Besides, there is Strategy for Advancing Infrastructure and Logistics (2017-2021) aims for the development of occupational standards in logistics and strategy for the development of science, technology, research, and innovation in logistics. Both strategies have mutual objectives which are up-grading transportation infrastructure, capacity building and policy driving factors, lowering the cost of transportation system management, increasing efficiency for being main trading gate and connecting national economic areas, and improving quality of life in all ages populations.
In consequence, various national projects on rail transportation systems have occurred e.g. track doubling initiative, mass rapid transit project, light rail transit project, and high – speed rail project. The investment in rail system for in-country and for ASEAN connectivity is considerable; it’s worth approximately 2 trillion baht.
Special concerning to the High-Speed Rail (HSR), the government of Thailand and China signed a memorandum of understanding in November 2014 to construct the HSR lines from Kunming of China to the Gulf of Thailand with standard gauge of 1.435 meter. In Thailand, there are four main HSR lines to be newly constructed with the total distance of approximately 1,711 kilometers.
(1) Bangkok – Nong Khai 608 kilometers;
(2) Bangkok – Chiang Mai 672 kilometers;
(3) Bangkok – Hua Hin, 211 kilometers.
(4) The 3 Airports Linking Network (Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi, and U-Tapao) 220 kilometers, an annex of the new initiative program, the EEC (Eastern Economic Corridor).
With the above-mentioned project, the demand on railway system laboratory with international standard to build up trustworthiness for customers is increasing rapidly. However, Thailand is facing big challenge in lacking of professional personnel in railway transportation system, laboratory infrastructure, and R&D which are the important factors to serve the industry’s needs. Even though large number of high-speed railways are in construction in ASEAN, with more than 2,000 kilometers of total distance, there is no laboratory that has the ability to provide railway system testing, analysis, and research and development for high-speed rail in particular. Meanwhile, quality control of railway components and products is mandatory according to every international safety standard. Investment in the infrastructure for railway testing laboratory is therefore worthwhile to be complied with requirement of international safety standards and regulations.
TISTR on High-Speed Rail
Thailand Institute of Scientific and technological Research (TISTR), under the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI), plays a significant role in utilizing research, technology and innovation to support government policy in railway transportation system. Under TISTR, Railway Transportation System Testing Center (RTTC) was first established in 1993. At its early stage, RTTC was a laboratory under Material Properties Analysis and Development Centre (MPAD). Since 2007, RTTC has become a dedicated centre in railway under TISTR.
RTTC was accredited according to ISO/IEC 17025 with Its principal works to provide testing and certification services on local content production, engagement in development of national railway standards and R&D in testing and inspection technology for railway maintenance. Its expertise is in engineering materials, product performances, vibration, fatigue and durability test of components in fields of automobile, rail and track, civil and construction, bridge and deck and highway engineering. Moreover, RTTC also provides academic support especially training courses and curriculum development in rail technology for the universities and academic sector.
Recently, RTTC is the National Key Laboratory in railway to cover every rail transport system. Quality and safety are the key concern to empower local content manufacturers.
In addition, RTTC has been assigned to run the collaboration with CRRC Sifang Co.Ltd. under the ministerial collaboration level of China and Thailand. CRRC-TISTR Joint Research Centre has been established and have a mutual mission to develop HSR teaching program with other 5 Universities in Thailand and 2 Universities in China to meet the railway personnel demand.
Not only within MHESI, but RTTC has strengthen its partnership with Ministry of Transport and other 15 working agencies to integrate the cooperation and development of rail system according to Quadruple Helix scheme. This is to empower the national rail manufacturers elevating the country to become the base of HSR local content production in the region.
By its readiness and capabilities, RTTC is currently implementing the 5-year project on “Capability Enhancement of Testing and Certification for Standard, Safety, and Research and Development for High-Speed Rail” during the year 2020 – 2024 to raise national competitiveness in HSR industry.
- To improve testing and certification laboratory for railway system components and products for quality and safety control during construction and maintenance stages of high-speed rail and other rail systems.
- To conduct research and development on railway system industry especially designing of product quality development for safety reason to meet the international standard.
- To conduct research and development on Smart Railway Maintenance such as Information Technology (IT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- To promote human resource development and teaching program in railway system in both professional and operational levels.
- To encourage professional qualification of railway transportation system including HSR driver and railway system engineer.
- Organizing workshop for transferring technology in the area of design, safety standard, testing, and quality improvement of railway systems products to enhance capacity of local manufacturers for local content rail production.
- Implementing the teaching program for high speed rail engineering curriculum in order to meet market needs.
- Organizing workshop on standardization, testing, research and development on monitoring for Predictive Maintenance application.
- Organizing international workshop to exchange and transfer technology on standardization, testing, research and development on inspection technology for rail systems maintenance.
Joint Operation Agencies in the country and overseas
- King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang
- Suranaree University of Technology
- Chiang Mai University
- Rajamangala University of Technology Khon Kaen Campus
- Rajamangala University of Technology Srivijaya
- King Mongkut’s University of Technology North Bangkok
- Monash University (Australia)
- Vossloh Fastening Systems GmbH (Germany)
- CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co., Ltd. (China)
The expected benefits are divided into 3 aspects as follow;
- Economic impacts
This project is considered as investment of research and development in railway system industry. Enhancement of competitiveness and production capacity of local manufacturer for regional and global standards of railway and high-speed rail industry are under expectation. The amount of imported railway system parts is expected to reduce; meanwhile, it would encourage usability of local contents and generate value-added for the alternative local content market for maintenance.
- Socio – environment impacts
Research and Development for High-Speed Rail is expected to raise quality of life for Thai citizen. Enhancing capacity of testing and certification for standards and safety in high-speed rail will enhance passenger’s trustworthiness in the public transport. Considering environment awareness, usability of high-speed rail helps reducing air pollution.
- STI Capacity impacts
Since the country’s ranking in science technology and innovation is low by international comparison, the implementation of the project will create new knowledge to improve STI performance of Thailand in competing with other countries. Furthermore, it will create the key infrastructure in testing, analysis, and research and development for railway system in order to support standardization and competitiveness of the rail products in the world market.
In conclusion, the expected outcomes of the project are advancing the country’s ranking in quality of trade and transport-related infrastructure, encourage higher number of emerging quality local content manufacturers and service agencies in railway system. In the meantime, the teaching and human resource development program in the project will generate adequate number of professional personnel for the research and development of the railway system.
For inquiries or interest of Railway Transportation System Testing Center (RTTC) please contact:
Dr. Anat Hasap, Director of RTTC
Tel: 02 – 5779307