Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group ( CP Group ) and 12 other companies were selected to build a US$6.8 billion high-speed train project that will link three major airports in the country, the government said on Monday. The committee, chaired by Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha , chose a joint investor for the public-private partnership that required the lowest amount of investment from the government, the Eastern Economic Corridor Policy (EEC) office said in a statement. The government’s decision came in following months of negotiations after CP Group and 12 other companies jointly submitted a bid for the US$6.8 billion project last year. The rail link will connect Thailand ’s main international airport Suvarnabhumi to low-cost carrier airport Don Muang and U-Tapao airport in eastern Thailand. The Chearavanonts, Thailand’s richest family, are getting richer helping China The proposal will be sent for cabinet approval on May 28, EEC Secretary-General Kanit Sangsubhan told reporters. The high-speed train project is slated to be completed in five years, and will be operational for 45 years under the partnership, according to the EEC portal. The EEC project, worth US$45 billion, is the centrepiece of the government’s policy to boost investments in hi-tech industrials, as it transitions from those reliant on cheap labour. The goal is to make the east a centre for hi-tech industries such as robotics and electric vehicles as well as a regional hub for aircraft maintenance. China wants to fund Thailand’s US$12 billion high-speed railway – but is the kingdom on track for more debt than it can handle? The EEC managed to draw 297 billion baht (US$9.3 billion) in promised investment in 2017. CP Group is headed by Thailand’s richest man, Dhanin Chearavanont , who has a net worth of US$16.5 billion, according to Forbes ’ latest estimates. CP Group, not known for its expertise in rail engineering, had previously said its consortium and strategic partners include China’s Citic Group, China Railway Construction, South Korea’s Hyundai, Germany’s Siemens, Italian-Thai Development and Japan Bank for International Cooperation. Dhanin’s businesses include pork and poultry farms in CP Foods and convenience stores in CPALL. Other interests span from a stake in Ping An Insurance Group, telecommunications, real estate and partnerships with Chinese carmaker SIAC Motor Corp and Japan’s Itochu Corp. The billionaire resigned last month as chairman of CP Foods, sparking speculation that he would either be named as a senator or as the kingdom’s next prime minister.