Above: An artist's impression of the Bangkok Land elevated train station at a retail concourse (Bangkok Highrises).
Pas Saengsong of Bangkok Highrises fills us in on the project that briefly existed between the Lavilin Skytrain and the BTS Skytrain projects--the Bangkok Land Skytrain: This overhead rail system was the precursor to the MRTA subway (the routes are the same) but would be elevated with only an 800m section underground. Also called "Skytrain." The government scrapped the Lavalin contract in 1992 as the company failed to meet start-up deadlines. A new contract was awarded to Bangkok Land. The catch was that Bangkok Land would build the system on a turnkey basis and in return the government would allow the company to develop 48 hectares of land set aside for the train depot. The system would be extended to Muang Thong Thani. In May 1995 the Chuan government canceled the project "after government officials ruled that concessions given to the developer were not permissible under Thai law." This was from an article from "Asia Today" in 1994 and 1995.
Pas also sends along an article from Asia Today, April, 1994 (127kb)
Above: The Metro City Development. More info at the bottom of this page (Bangkok Highrises).
Political history & personalities behind the Bangkok Land Skytrain - May 24, 2003
Wisarut reports: Note that Bangkok Land is an elder brother company of Thanayong--since both companies are headed by the Kanchanaphak family (Anant Kanchanaphak for Bangkok Land and Khiree Kanchanaphak for Thanayong).
The reasons Premier Chuan decided to cancel the deal with Bangkok Land are probably:
1) Pressure from environmental lobbyists who were opposed to the Skytrain (such as Senator Choptchoy Sophonphanit).
2) The connection between the Democrats (Chuan's party) and Ch. Karnchang. Since Ch. Karnchang lost the Skytrain deal along Ratchadaphisek, they wanted to sabotage the Bangkok Land deal so Ch. Karnchang would win the next bidding. Ch. Karnchang did win the new bid by coming up with the subway which pleased both Chuan and the environmental lobbyists. Later on Ch. Kanrchang (in the form of BMCL) won the concession to operate it (during the second administration of Premier Chuan).
The result of such deals caused the Bangkok mass transit systems (BTSC and MRTA) to have a very difficult time interchanging passengers and rendered rolling stock interchanges impossible (as one system is a subway and the other is a skytrain).
Presently, Ch. Kanchang is having trouble due to their strong connections with the Democrat Party (which is now not in office) while Italian Thai Development keeps themselves neutral to hedge against the political upheavals.
For the case of Transport Minister Suriya's plan to integrate the skytrain-subway systems (More on how the integration of Bangkok mass transit might happen, Manager Daily, May 15, 2003), Ch. Karnchang will have a very hard time closing the deal as both projects have strong connections with the Democrats. Ch. Karnchang has already been stymied on several occasions: their plan to merge two expressways (North Bangkok and Bangklow-Chang Watthana) into an integrated system and the plan to get a new concession to buy the subway concession held by BMCL were both sunk.
If Ch. Kanrchang decides to turn themselves to Thai Rak Thai, they will have a better chance to win the bid for the Skytrain-subway integration since Ch. Kanrchang already has strong ties with Japanese contractors--the head of managers and head of engineers in the company graduated from schools in Japan.