Thailand’s Future Forward Party (FFP), one of the contenders in Sunday’s general election, has announced plans to develop a Hyperloop ultra-rapid transit line between the northern city of Chiang Mai and the southern island resort of Phuket via Bangkok.
The FFP leader is 40-year-old businessman Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, who has pitched his campaign at Thailand’s younger voters, and who has been compared with Emmanuel Macron of France and Justin Trudeau of Canada.
The snap poll was called in January this year.
Thanathorn claims that the Hyperloop line would increase Thailand’s GDP by 4.7% and would create up to 180,000 new jobs. He has backed this up with a study, which he funded, prepared by a Canadian Hyperloop technology company, TransPod.
He said the system would be manufactured in Thailand and would give the country “one of the most effective mass transit systems”.
The prime ministerial hopeful contrasted this with Thailand’s decision to build a high-speed rail line with the Chinese, which he said would lead to “importing everything from abroad”.
The report claimed it would cost $19m a kilometre to build a 1,500km line from Bangkok to Chiang Mai – cheaper than a high-speed railway which is expected to reach $23m a kilometre – but still $28.5bn overall.
Meanwhile, the plans depend on whether the Thai police prosecute Mr Thanathorn over a speech shared online in June last year criticising the military.
Some 77 parties are contesting the Thai elections, which follow five years of military rule. One of the key constituencies is the 7 million first-time voters, at whom Mr Thanathorn, among others, is pitching his campaign.