Master Plan News 2002

This section contains news of the Master Plan, overall Bangkok development, the Bangkok Governor's development plans, and articles about interconnecting mass transit projects.

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Cutting Subway & Skytrain 20-year plans to 10-year plans - translated and summarized from Thansetthakij - December 1-4, 2002
After MOTC Minister Suriya and NESDB commented about the slow implementation of 20-years plan for Subway and Skytrain extensions which should be started in 2002, Traffic-Transportation Plan and Policy Office (the successor of OCMLT) agreed to shorten the implementation period from 20-years (4 sections, 5-years each) to a 10-year period. To shorten the period, MRTA and BTSC are ordered to design the 2nd phase of extensions while working on the 1st phase. This will enable construction of the 2nd phase soon after opening the 1st.
The 1st phase of Skytrain extension will be (1) Onnut-Samrong extension, (2) Taksin-Phetkasem extension, and (3) Mochit-Ratchayothin extension.
The 1st phase of Subway extension will be Hua Lamphong - Bang Wah.
The SRT elevated commuter (former Hopewell) would be
(1) Rangsit - Bangsue - Phyathai
(2) Phyathai - Makkasan - Klongtan - NBIA
The 2nd phase of Skytrain extensions would be
(1) Udomsuk - NBIA (2nd terminal)
(2) Ratchayothin - Lam Lookka
The 2nd phase of Subway would be
(1) Orange line
(2) the blue line to become a ring subway system
(3) Yellow line
The 2nd phase of the SRT elevated commuter would be
(1) Talingchan - Bangsue - Donmuang
(2) Hualamphong - Klongsarn - Talard Ploo
(3) Talard Ploo - Mahachai
[Station lists for these projects are in their respective sections on the list links on the left side of the main page.]
The cabinet has specified that at least 80% of materials for the implementation of extension would be local content. This would spur the local economic and cut import bills. A new detailed design for the Hopewell revival will be done by early 2003. The cost for Hopewell must be decreased from 30 billion baht to 12 billion baht.
Since three companies have different ticket prices, joint tickets are a must. Otherwise, it will force passengers to use automobiles - the same thing that is happening to Manila mass transit systems.
Commentary by Wisarut: The sections that go to NBIA must be either meter-gauge electrified train or standard-gauge Skytrain since the diesel locomotives are prohibited from entering the underground station at NBIA.
The story of Thai rail gauges: During the early day of the Royal State Railway Dept. (RSR), it was two separate departments: the Northern Railway Department and the Southern Railway Department. The Northern Railway (HQ at Hua Lamphong) received loans, equipment, and engineers from Prussia, so the railway from that department was Standard Gauge (1.435m). The Southern Railway Dept. (HQ at Bangkok Noy) received loans, equipment and engineers from Britain which used meter-gauge to construct railways in Malaya. Thus the Southern railway was (and still is) meter gauge.
After merging both railway departments to become the Royal State Railway Dept. in 1917, it was thought not wise to have two types of railway gauge, so meter gauge was selected and the process to convert the rails continued from 1920 to 1930. In 1922, the Rama VI Bridge was started and then completed in 1926. It connected the northern and southern railway together.
Many westerners criticized RSR for using meter-gauge in the first place instead of standard gauge (to save 3 million ticals--about 250,000 sovereigns). On the other hand, many Thais lambasted SRT for keeping some standard gauge rails alive to the present so to accommodate high-speed railways. This is one example of different viewpoints between Thais and the westerners.
The mood: Since the 1997 economic meltdown, most local newspapers have carried venomous editorials against westerners and the Democrat Party. The Democrats are labeled traitors and lackeys of foreign imperialists who enacted laws allowing foreigners to own land as well as other assets. There is also the airing of the alleged miseries of local people after the invasion of hypermarts and convenience stores. Local newspapers that support the liberalization of trade, financial institutions and the liquidation of asset at fire-sell prices are branded as "the supporters of traitors" and it is suggested that they should have their free speech as well as their human rights stripped and their legal immunity suspended.

Preliminary expressway routes linking the new and old airports - summarized and translated from Dailynews, August 16, 2002

1) Donmuang Airport - Vibhavadee Rangsit Highway (or Donmuang Tollway) - National Memorial - Phaholyothin Road - LamLookka Road - Eastern Kanchanaphisek Ring Road (Toll Motorway) - Thap Chang Interchange - BKK - Chonburi Motorway - Northern Terminal of NBIA

* This requires a 6-lane elevated road linking Donmuang Tollway with Eastern Kanchanaphisek Ring Road via Lam Lookka Road.
* Eastern Kanchanaphisek Ring Road from Ram Indra Interchange (near Fashion Island) to Bang Plee Interchange will be expanded from a 4-lane motorway to an 8-lane motorway to accommodate more cars to and from NBIA
* BKK - Chonburi Motorway from Sri Nakharin Interchange to NBIA would be expanded to a 8-lane motorway.
* The main gate of NBIA will have an 8-lane elevated road to the main terminal.

2) Donmuang Airport - Laksi Intersection - Chaeng Watthana Road - Ram Indra Road - Fashion Island - Eastern Kanchanaphisek Ring Road (Toll Motorway) - Thap Chang Interchange - BKK - Chonburi Motorway - Northern Terminal of NBIA

* Needs a 6-lane elevated way linking Donmuang Tollway with Eastern Kanchanaphisek Ring Road via Chaeng Watthana Road and Ram Indra Road - may be inappropriate since it must pass through many communities.

3) Donmuang Airport - Laksi Intersection - Chaeng Watthana Road - Ram Indra Road - Nuan Chan Intersection - Ram Indra - at Narong Expressway - New Rama IX Road - 2nd Stage Expressway - Sri Nakharin Interchange - BKK - Chonburi Motorway - Northern Terminal of NBIA

* Need 6-lane elevated way linking Donmuang Tollway with Ram Indra - at Narong Expressway via Chaeng Watthana Road and Ram Indra Road
* 2nd State Expressway (Victory Monument - Sri Nakharin) must be expanded to accommodate the huge volume of traffic

4) Donmuang Airport - Bang Khen Intersection - Ngam Wongwan Road - Kaset-Nawamin Road - Ram Indra - at Narong Expressway - Nawamin Road Kannayao Intersection - Fashion Island - Eastern Kanchanaphisek Ring Road (Toll Motorway) - Thap Chang Interchange - BKK - Chonburi Motorway - Northern Terminal of NBIA

* Need 6-lane elevated way linking Donmuang Tollway with Ram Indra - at Narong Expressway and Eastern Kanchanaphisek Ring Road - may be inappropriate since it must pass through the Kaset Area and Km. 8

5) Donmuang Airport - Bang Khen Intersection - Ngam Wongwan Road - Kaset-Nawamin Road - Ram Indra - at Narong Expressway - New Rama IX Road - 2nd Stage Expressway - Sri Nakharin Interchange - BKK - Chonburi Motorway - Northern Terminal of NBIA

* Need 6-lane elevated way linking Donmuang Tollway with Ram Indra - at Narong Expressway - may be inappropriate since it must pass through Kaset Area

6) Donmuang Airport - 1st Stage Expressway - Makkasan Interchange -2nd Stage Expressway - Sri Nakharin Interchange - BKK- Chonburi Motorway - Northern Terminal of NBIA

* This route may be the most appropriate route since it requires only major expansion on expressways and interchanges.

Another option: S1 Expressway (at Narong - Bang Na) linking BKK - Chonburi Expressway with the 1st and 3rd expressway together to feed the Southern Terminal of NBIA. However, the budget for the S1 expressway must be trimmed down before realizing the route.

Planning to move the Southern and Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekkamai Terminal) to Makkasan
Talingchan Terminal in Limbo
Dailynews, July 2, 2002

Minister Nikorn Jamnong (Deputy Minister of MOTC) told the correspondents that MOTC and Transportation Co.Ltd. are planning to move the Eastern Bus Terminal from Ekkamai to SRT land at Makkasan since Ekkamai Terminal cannot be expanded further. The Transportation Co.Ltd. wants to introduce their bus service from Makkasan to NBIA and NBIA to Chonburi and Pattaya after NBIA becomes a reality in 2005 as a substitute to SRT elevated Railway which cannot be started and done on time. However, he needs to discuss with the SRT Board of Directors as well as Minister Wan Nor for the new Eastern bus terminal at Makkasan which has to be done within 2 years to feed NBIA.

Nevertheless, MOTC will keep the Ekkamai Bus terminal alive and well even after the New Eastern bus terminal becomes a reality due to the fact that there is a Skytrain station right in front of the bus terminal. Even though the Southern bus terminal at Talingchan also cannot be expanded any further, MOTC and Transportation Co.Ltd. still are look for the right place for a new Southern bus terminal.

Commentary by Wisarut: MOTC may not consider the new Southern terminal at Bang Wah at the right place for the new Southern bus terminal due to the congestion at Phetkasem Road.

Commentary by Ron: It has always been my dream that SRT use the Makkasan land in the heart of the city to create Central Park (just like in New York). I have been told that deep in the use documents that govern the land is a provision that if SRT were ever to abandon the land, it would revert to a public park "for the people."

Railway tunnel to new airport - summarized and translated from Thurakij, June 27-29, 2002 and Thaipost Daily, June 29, 2002
If you need help with the acronyms, check out Thai alphabet soup .
The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) is pushing very hard for the Eastern Elevated Railway to NBIA. SRT is asking NBIA to pay 1.85 billion baht for the construction of a railway tunnel first and SRT will pay them back later. Italian-Thai Development (ITD) is getting a big boost since SRT is going to ask ITD to handle the tunnel construction. Nevertheless, NBIA has told SRT to wait a while for the NBIA Board decision.
Thoedsak Setthamanop (Deputy Permanent Secretary of MOTC and the Director of SRT Board) told journalists the elevated Eastern Railway from Hua Mark to NBIA had a distance of 26 km and a price tag of 23 billion baht. He said NBIA should construct a 1.2-km tunnel at NBIA station which is a railway station under the main passenger terminal (14 meters under ground level) with a price tag of 1.85 billion baht. MOTC will ask ITD to handle the project while ITD is handling the terminal construction.
The reasons NBIA Board has made such a decision are that SRT has not started the project yet even though NBIA is starting the construction of the passenger terminal. Therefore, it would be more economical to construct the NBIA station and the underground tunnel at the same time NBIA constructs the terminal. It would be more difficult and expensive to construct the underground tunnel and station after finishing the main terminal since NBIA and SRT would have to pay at least 3 times the current 1.85 billion baht budget for tunnel construction. So far NBIA is going to finish the laying of foundation pillars and fill the surface by the end of October 2002 so as to construct the passenger terminal even though SRT has not started the tunnel project yet.
The most critical part of the tunnel is the section under the main passenger terminal that goes under the elevated road in front of the main passenger terminal with a distance of 150 meters and a price tag of 500 million baht. The other section from the parking lot building and the new Airport Hotel with a distance of about 1000 meters can be done later on, but SRT is running out of cash to handle the project. Therefore NBIA will have to handle this tunnel project and SRT will pay them back later since the construction of the tunnel must go hand in hand with the terminal construction. Otherwise NBIA and SRT will have to pay at least 5.55 billion baht for the construction of the tunnel after finishing the passenger terminal.
Italian-Thai Development PCL (ITD) headed by Premchai Kannasoot will be the main contractor since ITD is handling the construction of the main terminal. If more companies were to handle the project, it would cause lots of headaches since NBIA, JBIC and ITD have to sign a new contract with the new contractor so as to handle the terminal and tunnel construction without problems. So far, ITD is negotiating with the NBIA board about this matter.
SRT hired PCI (a consulting company) to study the tunnel construction and the study has been completed. So far, SRT has reported about the problems on the project. It will start the route construction, but for awhile so as to see whether the government approves the full elevated Eastern Railway project. If the government approves the project, SRT will resume the construction as soon as possible. So far, the Budget Bureau has approved 315 million baht for the design of the full elevated Eastern Railway project--140 million baht for budget year 2003 and the rest for budget year 2004. SRT is speeding up the draft of the TOR to call bids by the end of 2002.
NBIA will pay for the tunnel project first by assigning the new job to ITD and SRT will pay them back later. SRT also proposes the setup of a new company to handle the concession and SRT amd NBIA will become shareholders of this new company.
NBIA and SRT were talking about the tunnel project three months ago but NBIA will have to submit the plan to NBIA Development Committee to be approved by the board first. Other contractors will get angry with the NBIA Board if NBIA approves only ITD to handle the tunnel construction. Therefore NBIA will invite the major contractors to discuss the plan for the construction of the tunnel-- whether to call a new bid or allowing ITD to handle the tunnel construction without calling a new bid.

Master plan update - translated and summarized from Matichon, May 20, 2002
OCMLT is speeding up the new master plan for the railed mass transit system in Bangkok which will be done by the end of May 2002. There will be a route expansion of 3.75 km (over the previous master plan) so as to support the future traffic volume in the next 20 years. OCMLT expects the cabinet to approve the new master plan as soon as possible.

Reports on Megaprojects - February 21, 2002

The cabinet has approved 10 infrastructure megaprojects which were suspended due to the economic downturn. All 10 projects have the total price tag of 106 billion baht. Here are seven of them:
1) Routes connecting Suvannabhum Airport - 1.8 billion baht
2) Motorway connection to Suvannabhum Airport - 0.75 billion baht
3) Northern Elevated Rail System (Bangsue - Donmuang) - 12 billion baht
4) Eastern Elevated Rail System (Asok - Suvannabhum Airport) - 50 billion baht
5) Bridge across Chaopraya River (at Pakkret) - 3 billion baht
6) East - West link of Bangkok Outer ring Road (from Ram Indra) - 6 billion baht
7) Elevated Road along Prapa Canal - 12 billion baht
Most of them will be funded by domestic loans and private concession. (From Bangkok Post, February 21, 2002)
Dailynews (February 21, 2002) said that Deputy PM Phithak Intharawiriyanand is pushing 10 megaprojects to the cabinet with a total price tag of 106.550 billion baht.
On the other hand, Prachachart Thurakij (February 21-23, 2002) also said that Highway Dept. will receive a 11.87 billion baht budget approved by the cabinet for the road connecting Suvannabhum Airport:
1. 11-km Roads to Suvannabhum Airport - 0.57 billion baht and
2. Connecting roads from Kingkaeo Road to Suvannabhum Airport (Romklao Intersection and Bangplee Intersection, and Onnut Road) - 1.8 billion baht
The Elevated Northern and Eastern Rail System have to wait for the next year's budget since the Highway Department has come to see the cabinet first.

Governor Samak flying to Japan at the end of Feb to negotiate with JBIC for a loan to construct the Ring Skytrain
Dailynews & Matichon, February 14, 2002

Amorn Kijchawengkul (Director of Krunthep Thanakhom Co.Ltd.) said that the company has found that 2 of 4 the proposed ring skytrain are feasible to be implemented even though they have finished only about 50% of the study:

1) The 80-km ring from Poochaosamingphrai Pier (a pier opposite to Phrapadaeng Pier) to Thepharak Road and turn left to Sri Nakharin Road at Namdaeng Intersection. After that, the line goes along Sri Nakharin Road and Nawamin Road until the intersection of Kaset-Nawamin Road. After that, the ring goes along Kaset-Nawamin road to Kaset Intersection and then goes along Ngamwongwan road and Rattanathibet road to Bang Yai via Phranagkla Bridge. After that, the ring goes along Kanchanaphisek outer ring road, Rama II Highway, Suksawat Road, Nakhon Khuenkhan road before ending up at Phra Pradaeng pier.

2) 120-km ring -> very similar to the first ring. However, this line will pass though Industrial Ring Road, Bang Krajao Park and then go to Bangna via Sanphawut Road and Bangna - Trat Highway until it reaches Central City Bangna and then turns left along Srinakharin Road.

Amorn said the study will be done by the end of February, 2002 before Governor Samak flies to Japan to submit project details as well as the study results and negotiate with JBIC about the loan. After that, BMA will summarize the negotiation details to be submitted to OCMLT and discussed in the Traffic Committee headed by OPM Minister Phithak Intharawiriyananada. If the committee agree with BMA, OCMLT would submit the plan to the cabinet. The JBIC loan is considered a government debt so cabinet approval is required. The government must allocate part of the budget to support the project as well. If everything goes as BMA plans, the project could be started by the end of 2002. Furthermore, BMA plans to submit the Samrong extension and Taksin extension along with the Ring Skytrain.

So far, Krunthep Thanakhom Co. Ltd. has not concluded the budget for the Ring Skytrain yet since this ring Skytrain will run at grade level, elevated levels and even underground levels (for the underwater tunnel at Phra Padaeng of course!). The government will have to expropriate, buy or even lease the public and private land plots to implement the project. The company will have to cut the budget for this ring skytrain as much as possible to minimize public debts.

Commentary by Wisarut: Such a ring skytrain will have to be separated into several contracts so that the ring skytrain can be opened as soon as possible even though the ring is not completed. The government used separate contracts to construct the Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road, so they will definitely do the same thing for the Ring skytrain.

Commentary by Wisarut: Too bad that the link to Suvannabhum Airport is not included in the Ring since SRT would take responsibility on Suvannabhum Rail link. Probably, the line with the most urgent priorities (such as Suvannabhum Airport link) will have to be executed first. BTSC could run the feeder buses from Phayathai Station or Chitlom Station to Makkasan Station if the feeder Skytrain line (Phayathai - Hua Mark) costs them too much. Bangsue-Donmuang will be executed later...

Meeting of the Large-scale mass transit subcommittee
Matichon Daily, January 15, 2002

There was a meeting of the Large-scale Mass Transit Subcommittee at 15:30 on January 14 about the Mass Transit Project so as to follow the guidelines from 20-year City Development Plan (2001-2021) which stated that there should be 241.23 km of railed mass transit systems. There results from the meeting were:

1) The radius lines will come up first and then the circle line.
2) SRT should start the elevated railway project from Rangsit to Bangsue (Hopewell Revival) to pick up passengers from northern Bangkok suburbs and feed into MRTA Blue line subway.
3) SRT should start the development of Bangsue Junction to become a terminal for railway traffic, except for commuter who want to go to Hua Lamphong.
4) BMA and BTSC should start the construction of a 20-km skytrain extensions (Mochit - Ratchayothin, Sathon - Phetkasem, and Onnut - Samrong).
5) OCMLT, SRT, ETA, BMA, Civil Works Dept. and MOTC should join together to start expressway projects on the Thoburi side of Bangkok along the railway tracks (Southern Railway or even Mae Klong). The expressway from the beginning of Rama II Highway to Bangkok via Rama IX Bridge is inadequate to handle the traffic from Thonburi. So far, they are drafting the routes and selecting the best routes to follow through.

Governor Samak told Deputy Prime minister Phithak Inthara-wiriyanand that BMA and the Central government should help BTSC by investing 7 Billion baht on civil works while BTSC runs the rail installation and services in which Central Government handles 65% while BMA handles 35% of 7-billion-baht investment.

Deputy Prime Minister Phithak said even though the cabinet approval states that the Skytrain extensions must be 100% private investment, the government will help the company out of trouble and ensure the continuity of mass transit system development. However, BMA should submit detailed studies on investment plans to be completed within a 3-month period before submitting to the subcommittee.

Governor Samak said if there is no problem in the detailed study, BMA will definitely allocate the budget for Skytrain extension within the 2003 BMA Annual Budget (October 1, 2002 - September 30, 2003) instead of asking Krungthep Thanakhom to finance the extension projects. The ticket fares for the Skytrain extensions will initially be the same as the current Skytrain fare (10-40 baht) to attract as many passengers as possible. Later on, BMA will apply the provision to increase the fare rate for those who travel from one end to the other end.

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