Australia and Thailand collaborate on transport connectivity

Australia and Thailand collaborate on transport connectivity
Officials from Thailand's Ministry of Transport visit the new Arden Metro train tunnel construction site in Melbourne during their study tour to Australia

Australia is partnering with Thailand to bolster transport connectivity and advance policy reform. To exchange Australian transport expertise and experience, a five-day study tour was arranged for 12 senior officials from Thailand’s Ministry of Transport (MOT).

Facilitated by Australia's Partnerships for Infrastructure (P4I), the Thai delegates travelled to Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne between 27 November to 1 December 2023 to visit transport facilities, and meet with transport operators and government decisionmakers. The tour itinerary was aligned with MOT priorities and plans, covering topics including multimodal transport planning, public transport accessibility, and decarbonisation of the transport sector.

Australian Ambassador to Thailand, Dr Angela Macdonald PSM, emphasised the significance of the visit in expanding transport cooperation between the two nations. She highlighted Australia's wealth of experience in transport planning and policy development, aimed at addressing challenges related to rapid urbanisation, digitalisation, inclusion, and climate change.

"The study tour provided senior Ministry of Transport officials with the opportunity to engage with Australian state and federal government counterparts and identify specific areas for future government-to-government cooperation," stated Ambassador Macdonald.

Leading the delegation, Dr. Punya Chupanit, Director General of Thailand’s Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning, expressed the strong alignment of the tour with Thailand's transport priorities. He emphasised the significance of exchanging the latest trends and policies in transport connectivity.

“We were able to build connections with transport operators and policy decisionmakers in Australian government agencies, and to see how different modes of transport are being used in different cities.”

Thailand’s Thirteenth National Economic and Social Development Plan 2023-2027 places a strong focus on connectivity and economic corridor development with the region. This includes improving multimodal transport and logistical systems to increase economic productivity and promote connectivity with the Greater Mekong sub-region.

Thailand has prioritised developing the eastern, northeast, and southern economic corridors to help position the country as a regional trade and investment gateway. Consistent with national planning, MOT is investing in enhanced road, rail, marine and air transport networks within Thailand and with the region, and increasing public transport development to ease traffic congestion.

The delegation's itinerary included meetings with Transport for NSW in Sydney, visits to the Transport Management Centre and an electric vehicle bus depot, and a city tour utilising smart ticketing. In Canberra, MOT officials explored the light rail network and engaged with the Department of Infrastructure and CSIRO. 

While in Melbourne, they observed port automation at the Port of Melbourne, visited a live construction site at Melbourne Metro and explored Melbourne’s innovative approaches to removing level crossings. The delegation held discussions with Freight Victoria to gain insights into different transport modes used for freight transportation. The visit concluded with discussions with the Victorian Government’s ecologiQ program, which promotes the use of recycled materials on new transport projects.

The study tour is a pivotal component of the broader capacity-building program with the MOT, following a series of knowledge-sharing workshops conducted by P4I between March and May 2023. It also builds on the transport agreement signed between Australia and Thailand in August 2022.

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