Master Plan News 2005

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

Mass Transit News main page

TRT pamphlet with promises for future Bangkok mass transit - September 6, 2005
We first posted this TRT map of promised mass transit on January 29, 2005 during the heat of the election campaign. Now the expensive plan has been "scaled back" amid howls of outrage on all sides. Democrats and other critics had long contended that the investment on such a plan was untenable, but the overly optimistic government insisted that money was not a problem and continued to promote the lines through August with posters in each area of town promoting the lines. The scale-back is a humiliating backdown for TRT that allows the opposition to contend the whole thing was a stunt to win votes during election time.
More mass transit maps here.

(Thanks to Wisarut for more links to articles on the continuing fallout from the cancellations.)
Public angry about the cancellation of the Orange Line - The Nation, September 5, 2005
Those who live in Bang Kapi have booed BRT line as a substitute for the Orange Line - Matichon, September 5, 2005
Public anger toward Minister Pongsak after canceling the Purple Line (here, here, and here)
Minister Pongsak trying to introduce a Monorail/LRT for the Purple Line after people reject the BRT (here, and here)MASS TRANSIT: Monorail seen as Purple Line option - The Nation, September 5, 2005
Deadlock on the land along Purple Line - Prachachat Thurakij, September 3-6, 2005
Khun Choowit lambastes TRT after the cancellation of the Purple and Orange Lines (here and here)
The changing policy is a way for TRT to shoot themselves in the foot - Matichon, September 4, 2005
An open letter from a broken-hearted Bang Kapi resident - The Nation, September 5, 2005...But I must say that I am the most brokenhearted by the sudden change, after I realised I had sacrificed my political ideology for nothing.
Flash back to February, when the election turned into a dead heat between the Democrat Party and Thai Rak Thai, whose populist policies enchanted my mother like Love Potion Number 9.
I had never faced such a crucial dilemma in my whole life. The Democrats were campaigning for checks and balances in the political system, which I admired. On the other hand, who wouldn't look twice at Skytrain pictures on Thai Rak Thai billboards?
And for your information, I consider myself an upholder of social rights. I'm often telling my friends that I disdain any politician who pushes populism merely for short-term political gain...
The government promised me a luxurious ride, and all I'll end up getting is a dingy bus...

Transit plan backed - The Nation, September 2, 2005
...Construction of all seven electric train routes in greater Bangkok would have produced around Bt50 billion in deficits over 10 years, commissioner Sasiphat Swetwatana told a press conference...

OVERDRIVE: Another U-turn from Great Communicator - The Nation, September 2, 2005
...During the political campaign ahead of the February general election, voters in Bangkok were promised that new mass-transit systems would be built. The message for the people in the Bangkok area was that if they voted for Thai Rak Thai, these systems would pass nearby their houses. The Great Communicator also promised that the Purple Line - would be finished within three years because there would not be any big burden for land expropriation. Land developers and speculators rushed to buy land and build projects in anticipation of the investment in the Purple Line in northern Bangkok. Real estate around the area saw a big boom...

Opposition parties lambasting the government flip-flop on mass transit - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager, September 1, 2005
Both Democrat (Khun Kriangsak) and Chart Thai (Khun Choowit) are lambasting the campaign for mass transit system of TRT accussing TRT of lulling voters and then scraping the project after cornering land prices along the routes. Even Khun Korn Jatikawanit (Democrat MP, child of Mr. Super K--Kasem Jatikawanit--who runs BTS) has suggested TRT to expand the mass transit along BTS routes.

Downsizing Taksin Center - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thairath and Manager, September 1, 2005
OTP said that they are going to downsize Taksin Center to 75 rai, moving the inner-city bus terminal to either:
1) Kalaprapruek Road [1-2 km from the proposed Taksin Center] on 100 rai of vacant land
2) Rama 2 area (10 km from proposed Taksin Center) on 200-300 rai of land
Furthermore, OTP is planning to modify the Red Line commuter route to be an underground track from Hua Lamphong to Taksin Center as well as the Blue Line to serve the new inner-city bus terminal at either Kalaprapruiek Road or Rama 2.
However, the cost cost to implement the elevated section for Red line commuter is 0.995 billion baht/km while the underground section is about 3.115 billion baht/km.

Saving money by derailing transit routes - Bangkok Post, September 1, 2005
The government has saved a colossal 200-billion-baht budget by cancelling some mega-mass transit system routes, citing an urgent need to use the money to solve chronic drought and flood problems _ a decision that has triggered deafening complaints from residents living along the now-derailed subway lines, and business operators alike...

Taksin transport hub downsized - Mega-project halted by local opposition - Bangkok Post, September 1, 2005
The Transport Ministry has yielded to fierce opposition from people facing eviction and decided to downsize its southern transport centre mega-project into an electric train station instead.
The decision came yesterday, five days after the ministry announced it would scale down the mass transit project to save state budget amid strong criticism from the opposition Democrat party...

Minister Pheng explaining to TRT MPs about the scrapping of the Purple Line - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager, September 1, 2005
Minister Pheng is telling TRT MPs from Nonthaburi that those people in Taopoon-Tiwanon do not want a mass transit system, so he has come up with BRT for them. The rest from Bang Yai to Tiwanon would get mass transit system later.
More on the Taopoon controversy

MOTC said BRT is a good substitute for the subway at just 35.2 billion baht - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager, August 29, 2005
MOTC said the substitute for subway is a BRT -> 97 km for 35.245 billion baht. This BRT would use NGV engines. Purple Line and Orange Line Subway would get 6% benefit while getting an annual loss of 3 billion baht.
The list of BRT Line as a substitute [for the Purple Line] is:
1) Bang Yai - Rattnathibet - Ngam Wong Wan - Bang Khen and Rattanathibet - Rama 7 Bridge - Sam Sen - Sanam Luang
2) Wongwian Yai - Taksin - Suksawat - Ratboorana
[Substitute for the Orange Line]
3) Klong Tan - Ram Kham Haeng - Bang Kapi - Kanchanaphisek [Saphan Soong]
4) Bang Yai -Kanchanaphisek - Bang Bon
[The fifth line is a substitute for the Yellow LRT]
5) Lad Phrao Bang Kapi - Sri Nakarin - Sikharin

Subway vs Skytain Vs BRT comparisons
2.395 billion baht/km for construction, 0.285 billion baht/km for land expropriation
0.435 billion baht/km for system and rolling stock -> total 3.115 billion baht/km
0.860 billion baht/km for construction, 0.105 billion baht/km for land expropriation
0.435 billion baht/km for system and rolling stock -> total 1.400 billion baht/km
At grade section: 0.050 billion baht/km for construction, 0.050 billion baht for land expropriation and 0.100 billion baht for rolling stock -> total 0.200 billion baht/km
Elevated section: 0.250 billion baht for construction, 0.050 billion baht for land expropriation and 0.100 billion baht for rolling stock -> total 0.400 billion baht/km

BMA trying to promote BRT - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thairath, September 1, 2005
After Krungthep Thanakhom Co. Ltd. has been assigned by BMA to run BRT as the way to get around regulations, the BMA governor is pointing out the success of BRT services in Australia. Furthermore, BMA is going to implement BRT on the following routes:
1) Watchiraphon - Rama 9 - Klong Tan
2) Bang Buathong - Kanchanaphisek - Bang Khae
3) Onnut - Suvannabhum
BMA to launch first BRT routes this year - TNA, September 1, 2005
More on Bus Rapid Transit - BRT

More on the end of the Purple and Orange Lines
MASS TRANSIT CHANGES: Property projects worth Bt40 billion in doubt
- The Nation, August 31, 2005
Suspension of rail lines wreaks havoc in the market. More than 30 property projects worth almost Bt40 billion in total and heavily advertised as having convenient access to mass transit are in disarray over the government's abrupt decision to suspend its plans for the Purple and Orange subway-system lines...
EDITORIAL: Switching tracks on mass transit - Bangkok Post, August 31, 2005
...The fact that an infrastructure of such a massive scale could be abruptly cut back soon after the government promised its financial support, indicates the project has already served its political need. Now reality has finally set in. The government promised it would spend 500 billion baht on the project. The cost will now be cut to about 300 billion baht, after having already spent 300 million baht studying the original project.
With the Transport Ministry's latest decision, the city's mass transit system now faces a lot of uncertainty. The government has announced its intention to complete the entire network in four years from 2004-2008. Even without the change last week, it has already failed to meet its deadline to start the bidding contest for the Purple Line between Bang Sue and Bang Yai, originally planned for the middle of this year. Residents of Bangkok and adjoining provinces should consider themselves lucky if they see any of the new mass transit lines up and running during the term of this government--now that there is no longer any political urgency for TRT to fulfil its promise.


Canceling the Purple and Orange lines - August 31, 2005
After being heavily touted during the election and on posters around town, the government has had to cut back the Purple and Orange mass transit lines and might possibly replace them with bus lines. Above is a poster for the still-intact Red Line. The poster reads: Metropolitan Police Bureau - Main road project line 2 - Red line: Vipavadee Road all route - Memorial Institute to Dindaeng Intersection - For convenience, speed, safety

Route scrapping has MPs wringing hands
- The Nation, August 30, 2005
Thai Rak Thai MP Pimuk Simaroj said his colleagues feared losing support from their constituents after they promised them that they would push for the mass-transit systems...

Street WISE: Pongsak in hot seat over transit - The Nation, August 30, 2005
...But residents in areas the routes were to pass through are seething. They must be thinking back to the month before the general election last February, when posters were plastered in their neighbourhoods trumpeting the planned routes and telling them what to expect if Thai Rak Thai were to win.
Hence it is no surprise that after Pongsak announced the government's change of heart, that many people flooded public websites with their comments. "No matter how indebted the government becomes, I don't care. I just want a train," wrote one disturbed resident...

City MPs want answers from Pongsak about electric trains - Bangkok Post, August 30, 2005
Fearing that the planned scrapping of some electric train routes will send their political fortunes plummeting, Thai Rak Thai MPs for Bangkok and Nonthaburi will demand explanations from Transport Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal today...

Taksin controversies: Sudarat trying to relive the sufferings of Thonburi people - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Prachachat, August 25-28, 2005
TRT PMs from Chomthong and Thonburi District have asked those who are involved in Taksin Center to listen the local people before implementing the project. Most people did not oppose the project per se. They just do not want an intercity bus terminal as well as BMTA terminal to their area. Both terminals would cause heavy traffic jams they want to avoid. They used to suffer from traffic jams due to the intercity bus terminal at Phrannok so they would never want to repeat that again. Both terminals must be somewhere else in Thonburi.
The local protesters have sent representatives to report their pleas to the Parliament Consumer Protection Committee on the 3rd floor of Building 1, National Assembly on August 25.
On Sunday August 21, Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan (part of Premier Thaksin's inner circle) and 30 coworkers have come to inspect the area for Taksin Center at Soi Athit (Wutthakart 43) to Montree School (Wutthakart 25) by following Mahachai Railway.
Khun Ying Sudarat said she will work for this issue for 30 days to get more details before making further discussions with Premier Thaksin because this area has been studied for more than 10 years ago so the data is outdated. The orchards have already become residential areas. She is not in MOTC since she is Agriculture Minister, but as she is one of the inner circle of Premier Thaksin for the Bangkok area, she has to investigate this controversy.
Khun Ying Sudarat said she is not so sure that the Ministry of Finance has enough reserves to pay for the land expropriation due to the fact that there are more than 10,000 households in that area. This needs at least 10 billion baht to pay them all. Even the Paksak Jolasit Dam controversy already cost billions of baht.
Taksin center would cover the following areas:

1) Northern Border: Rajapruek Road. (Taksin - Phetkasem) - 400 meters
2) Southern Border: Wutthakart 43 & Ratchada - Thaphra Soi 9 - 900 meters
3) Eastern Border: Parallel with Bang Sakae Canal - 200 meter far from the canal using the new road connecting Rajapruek Road with Ratchadaphisek and Wutthakart as the border.
4) Western Border: Wutthakart Soi 23-43 - 500 meters
5) Total area: 175 rai, covering Jomkthong and Thonburi
6) Taksin Center would connect Maeklogn Railway with BTS Skytrain and even MRTA Subway along with the transportation hub in Thonburi
7) Taksin Center would have an interchange building along with the offices for transactions and commercial affairs. There will be a Southern Intercity Bus terminal along with a park and ride and BMTA Bus
8) The New Red Line Commuter would consist of the following lines.
8.1) Transit version ... takes 50 minutes to travel, stops at every station such as:
8.1.1) Hua Lamphong
8.1.2) Lad Yah
8.1.3) Wongwian Yai
8.1.4) Talad Ploo [would interchange with Blue Ring if extended beyond Tha Phra]
8.1.5) Taksin Center
8.1.6) Jomthong
8.1.7) Wat Sai
8.1.8) Wat Singh
8.1.9) Bang Bon
8.1.10) Rang Sakae (should be Karn Keha which has lots of people while the actual Rang Sakae has been covered by grass and weeds)
8.1.11) Rang Pho
8.1.12) Sam Yaek
8.1.13) Thong See Thong (In Mahachai)
8.1.14) Bang Namjued
8.1.15) Khok Kwai
8.1.16) Bang Khom
8.1.17) Mahachai Station - north of Rama 2 Highway, not far from Soi Rung Setthakij
8.2) Express version takes 30 minutes to travel.
8.2.1) Hua Lamphong
8.2.2) Taksin Center
8.2.3) Bang Bon (near the house of Chaloem and sons)
8.2.4) Mahachai
Skytrain would go to Taksin Center and then goes up north to interchange with Blue Line to Bang Khae via Bang Wah.

MASS TRANSIT: U-turn on buyback plan - The Nation, August 29, 2005
Govt rethinks plan to acquire indebted Skytrain, subway firms; still favours single-operator system with fare subsidies...

More Thai-language article links - August 29, 2005
Wisarut points out the following links to Thai-language articles:

Premier Thaksin moving 200 billion baht from mass transit project to solve water shortage problems

OTP pushing the Red Line Commuter forward since the government will not cut the Red Line Commuter

The cynical responses to the conversion of the Purple Line into a BRT project: Taopoon people get what they ask for -> No mass transit line to their area after all

Even though they have to convert the Purple Line and Orange Line to BRT, they would not cancel the mass transit project .... and here

Taopoon people thanking the government for canceling the Purple Line

OTP pushing the Red Line Commuter-Suvannabhum Airport Link - The Conversion of the Purple Line -Orange Line into BRT does no harm to Red Line Commuter network

Details on the routes to be axed, modified and added - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Bangkok Biznews, August 26, 2005 and Thairath, August 27, 2005
After further studies by MFC, some mass transit lines will be axed or modified. The government will introduce trams, monorails and BRT as substitutes based on the 10 baht + 1.2 x N travel km scheme.
The lines to be modified according to the MFC scheme:
Axed: Orange Line (Bang Kapi - Huay Kwang - Dindaeng - Bang Plat)
Added: Yellow Monorail (Lad Phrao - Bang Kapi - Sri Nakharin)
Modified: Purple Line
Old: Bang Sue - Wong Sawang - Bang Yai
New: Bang Yai - Ngam Wongwan - Bang Khen
Sparred: Blue Ring and Blue Line
This would cut budget from 550 billion baht to 343 billion baht.
OTP feels upset that MFC has come up against the OTP plan.
Securitization would be a substitute for a loan, but the government seems to prefer a loan because they feel not familiar with securitization. MFC also has strongly discouraged the government from nationalizing BMCL and BTSC. The government should never take the full burden of megaprojects.
The central organization to mange the projects, one for the inspection on implementation, and the other for the basic structure maintenance along with the mass transit services to cut redundancy. The current system creates too much redundancy. The Ministry of Finance is seeking the funds while MOTC is handling the construction--no cross checking available.
MFC also discourages the government from setting up a holding company without proper management because poor management could create more burden to the government. Therefore, an organization from a neutral party to run the holding company is necessary.

MASS TRANSIT PLAN: Cut back to three routes, panel says - The Nation, August 26, 2005
4 of 7 subway routes likely to run at a loss - Megaprojects may be reviewed, rewritten - Bangkok Post, August 26, 2005
Only three out of seven planned new subway routes in Bangkok are likely to meet costs over a 30-year period, according to Pichit Akrathit, the president of MFC Asset Management...
Dr Pichit said the fact that some rail routes were not necessarily expected to break even did not necessarily mean that they should not be built.
"For these megaprojects, there is still room to adjust the projects to help reduce costs while maintaining the same benefits for society,'' he said...

The leather industry asks to change Mae Klong line - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Matichon, August 24, 2005
Matichon editor has received complaints from those who suffer from Taksin Center project and new Mahachai Commuter [Hua Lamphong - Mahachai] that the decision to move the track from Lad Yah Road to Charoen Rat Road (the former Klong San - Wongwain Yai section of Mahachai line) is not good at all because it hurts their leather industry. There are 40-50 shops [including sweatshops] of leather businesses and 90% are landowners.
However, Team Consultant has replied that the line to Lad Yah has more harmful effects on businesses and the environment than the Charoen Rat section, especially the King Taksin Monument at Wongwian Yai. Those who live in Thonburi would never allow any project that damages the King Taksin Monument or they would face the bloody wrath from Thonburi people.

OTP asking to cut Taksin Center to 14 rai and move the Southern Bus Terminal to Kalaprapruek - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Dailynews, August 24, 2005
The meeting at OTP has come up with the result that:
1) Taksin Center must be at the same place Since there is no better place than Wutthakart where Klaprapruek, Rajapruek,and Ratchadaphisek intersect.
2) Cutting the size from 175 rai to 14 rai as the interchange between BTS Skytrain and Mahachai Commuter line.
3) The Southern Bus Terminal should be moved to Kalaprapruek Road.
4) The consultant has come up with the provisional Southern Bus Terminal at Rama 2 Highway near Kanachanaphisek Outer Ring Road on 100 rai of government land.
5) Land expropriation should be done only once for all projects especially the bureaucrat area at Rama 2.
OTP will submit these meeting results to MOTC by the end of next week.

Bridge over the Chao Phraya at Pakkret - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thairath, August 20, 2005
The 6-lane bridge across the Chao Phraya at Pakkret (near Koh Kret) and the 6-lane east-west access road are 45.68% done and ready to be opened on February 28, 2007. The 6-lane north-south access road is 66.31% done and ready to be opened on May 18, 2006. The new Pakkret bypass road with trumpet-shaped interchange is 56.11% done and will be complete on June 1, 2006.

Taksin Center news

Scaling down Taksin center - BMA offering Rama 2 area as an alternative - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thairath, August 18, 225
OTP said they considered scaling down the Taksin Center from 175 to 50 rai. It would only be an interchange station between Mae Klong Railway and BTS Skytrain due to the strong protest from more than 10,000 households, not just 1703 households as previously thought.
The Southern Bus Terminal has to move somewhere else with fewer existing residents around. This will reduce the budget by 2 billion baht.
However, local Thonburi people feel very confused about the government's moves because PM Thaksin bullied the local people by saying that "I'll come up with two new alternative routes to replace the Taksin extension of BTS."
However, the same government has come up with the Taksin Center with a BTS extension at the same time saying "Taksin extension from Saphan Taksin is not allowed!"
Which should they believe? Without Taksin Extension, there is no way for BTS to connect with Taksin Center according to the plan.

OTP insisting on constructing Taksin Center
- translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thairath, August 17, 2005
OTP said they refuse to back down on the Taksin Center project, no matter how much pressure the local people of Thonburi come up with.
The local people of Thonburi retorted: "See you at Bangbon on August 20, and you'll face the wrath and revenge from our people if you still insist on the Taksin Center without listening to our voices."

Mass transit investment viable? - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi, August 19, 2005
The General Auditor's Office has complained that MRTA Purple Line (Bangsue-Bang Yai and Bang Yai-Rat Boorana) passes through the very low density area, not central business district areas which are more viable (Matichon, August 15, 2005). Mouthpieces of the government such as Dailynews say investment on the seven lines is definitely viable.

Taksin Center controversies - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Than Setthakij, August 14-17, 2005 and Prachachat Thurakij, August 15-17, 2005
OTP has learned very hard lessons on their laziness to update data. Local people from Thonburi have revolted against Taksin Center and tell OTP that there are more than 10,000 households in the the area for Taksin Center, not just 1703 households as OTP has claimed.
OTP has to come up with three choices:
1) Delaying the project [out of the question for both OTP and local people]
2) Moving Taksin Center along with rerouting both Maeklong Railway and BTS extension to go along Kalaprapruek Road which has more vacant space than Wutthakart Road [OTP's choice].
3) Move intercity bus terminal, BMTA terminal, and park and ride to somewhere else along Maeklong Line while constructing only an interchange building for BTS and Mae Klong Railway so the local people could use both systems. The blue line extension to The Mall Tha Pra should be an included provision [local people's preference].
The owner of Montree Witthaya School said he would sacrifice his school on five rai of land at Wutthakart Road and build a new one for his students at Kalaprapruek Road. However, most local people said they are up against vested interests who come to destroy their communities with very little compensation and they are already fed up with the snobbish new neighbors who come to grab their land at bargain price for speculation while driving their community away.
Note: Even Thairath columnists have pointed out the usual habit of hidden agenda on government projects causing strong protests from local people. Ban Krua, Thai-Malay joint pipeline venture, Laem Pak Bai project, Purple Line, and Taksin Center controversies are a few samples of such malpractice by governments with hidden agendas. No wonder that NGOs come up with strong protests due to such irregularities in government projects. Furthermore, the local people of Thonburi have pointed out the political football along with the vendetta between the central government and BMA are definitely the main causes of delays in the Taksin Extension of BTS.

Barter trade to finance eight projects with a price tag of 29.6 billion baht - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thaipost, August 18, 2005
The government has come up with barter trade for eight projects
1) New batch of locomotives and BCF and container boxex
2) Chachongsao - Sri Racha - Laem Chabang double tracking
3) Airplane for royal rain making
4) Feeder ships
5) New machines for Thai Tobacco Monopoly Factory at Chiang Mai
6) X-ray machine for containers at the Customs Department
...and two other two projects with total price of 29.583 billion baht.
This will focus on the agriculture products, but the rice mill association have warned that this barter trade should never be resold to a third country since it will depress the price of their products.

BMA installing Smart Traffic System at Silom Road - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager, August 16, 2005
BMA government has installed the first Smart Traffic System in front of Bangkok Bank PCL, Silom Road this morning. BMA plans to install up to 40 Smart Traffic Systems with a price tag of 210 million baht.
However, BMA would install the first five system at the following places:
1) Bangkok Bank PCL, Silom Road
2) Sukhumvit Road before reaching Phrom Phong Intersection
3) Phayathai Road in front of Silom Medical just before reaching Phayathai Intersection
4) Rama 6 Road, before reaching Tuek Chai Intersection [Ramathibodee Hospital]
5) Narathiwat Rajnakharin Road near the intersection with Sathorn Road.

Editorial: Mass transit projects must go ahead - translated from Tharn Settakij by the Bangkok Post, July 28, 2005
Despite opposition from some quarters, the government should go ahead with its mass transit projects, which will help lessen fuel consumption in Bangkok and nearby provinces...
Single firm to oversee mass transit - Holding company for skytrain and subway - Bangkok Post, July 26, 2005
...He said the new holding company would take over state shareholdings in the existing Bangkok subway and skytrain systems, as well as new mass-transit projects to be developed over the next seven years.
...But private operators have resisted calls to swap their shareholdings with shares of the new holding company, prompting Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to comment recently that companies refusing to co-operate with the concept could be blocked from integrating with seven new light rail routes planned for Bangkok over the next seven years.
...Major shareholders of Bangkok Metro (BMCL), the operator of the subway system, include Ch. Karnchang, Natural Park, Krung Thai Bank and TMB Bank. The company recently announced a plan to list on the Stock Exchange of Thailand and raise capital to 11.95 billion baht from 7.35 billion, including the placement of 2.6 billion shares to MRTA as required under the concession contract.
Shareholders of the Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS), the operator of the Bangkok skytrain, include Tanayong, the International Finance Corp, Siam Commercial Bank and Italian-Thai Development Plc. The company is currently restructuring its 39 billion baht in debts...

Mass transit notes - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi, July 23, 2005
* Premier Thaksin has told the people in his Saturday morning radio address that he has given a green light for MOTC and OTP to eliminate BTS Skytrain from participating in the joint ticketing system for mass transit.
* Thairath reports (July 20, 2005) that local Taopoon people would no longer listen to statements from OTP about the Taopoon interchange station which they oppose. They are sending their pleas to the Participation Committee and Human Right Committee.
* Thairath reports (July 22, 2005) that local Taopoon people booed MRTA officers who came to survey their area and even throw the stones at them.

JBIC loan scheme for megaprojects - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager Daily, July 21, 2005
The Public Debt Administration Office told the press that MOF is going to start borrowing from JBIC to finance megaprojects in 2006 and set up a real estate fund with a price tag of 80-100 billion baht so as to start construction in October 2006.
To get around FOREX risks and interest rate fluctuations, the Public Debt Administration Office has come up with a plan by going through the following steps:
1) Borrowing JBIC loans with 0.75% annual interest rates, 40-year payment period, and 10 year grace period
2) Making cross currency swap/participating swap -> turning Yen loan from JBIC into Thai baht to cut FOREX risks
3) This scheme would make the actual annual interest after swapping currency at 3.95-4.05%, slightly lower than local baht loans of 4.45%
4) Securitization to form the real estate funds of 80-100 billion baht.
This scheme would go into the following projects:
1) Purple Line to Bang Yai -> 30% budget, 70% domestic loan since it take too much time to get JBIC loans. The final design would be done in October 2005 and the contract with contractors would be signed in December 2005. This would free MRTA to choose the supplier at the cheapest price without strings attached from JBIC.
2) Purple Line to Ratboorana, Blue Line Subway to Bang Khae, Blue Ring to Tha Phra and Orange Line would be 20% budget and 80% JBIC loan. The government would guarantee the loan. This is to be negotiated in September 2005 so as to start in October 2006.
The total allocation for MRTA would be as follows:
Budget: 21.80%
Domestic loans: 10.30%
JBIC loans: 67.90%
The Public Debt Administration Office may not work on any BTS Skytrain scheme since OTP has decided to abandon BTS Skytrain since it refuses to be nationalized.

OTP discussion on Purple Line, Pink Monorail, and Yellow LRT - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager, July 13, 2005 and Bangkok Biznews, July 13, 2005
After the discussion between OTP, MRTA and those who live along Bangkok-Nonthaburi Road, they have come up with the following results:
1) For the case of the Pink Monorail (Pakkret - Laksi - Suwinthawongse), this should be frozen for a while, and only be under serious consideration after finishing the Yellow LRT since the existing van services and private buses have already covered the route and the demand is too low.
2) Yellow LRT with total distance of 32 km and a price tag of 34 billion baht would be under serious consideration to relive the traffic jams at Lad Phrao Road, Bang Kapi, Lum Salee and Sri Nakharin Road.
3) NHA must be ready to start the construction of Ban Uea Arthorn and Flat Uea Arthorn for more than 10,000 families (about 100,000 people) removed from along the Red Line commuter networks.
4) OTP and MRTA said the elevated tracks require less expropriation space than underground tracks and both would show the comparison maps to convince those who live along Bangkok-Nonthaburi Road.
The list of land expropriation for Purple line (46.962 billion baht - 23 km) is:
Section 1 - km 8+723.205 - km 9+130.00 [Gate of Janthima Thani Village], eastern side of Kanchabnaphisek Outer Ring, 400 m, 60 plots of land
Section 2 - km 11+700 - km 12+300 [Bang Yai intersection - Rattnathibet], for widening the curve, 600 m, 14 plots
Section 3 - The Bridge Across Chao Phraya between km 18+300 + km 19+350 - the bridge parallel and South of Phrananklao Bridge--expropriation of 56 plots
Section 4 - Kae Rai Intersection between km 23+700 - km 24-400 - 700 m, need 28 plots
Section 5 - km 23+350 - km 26+000 - Tiwanon Intersection--needs land expropriation for the curve need 55 plots of land with 650 meter distance.
Section 6 - km 30+250 - km 31+170 at Pracharat Sai 2 - 1100 meter long--going to the front of Tesco Lotus Prachachuen to avoid hitting Bangsue Flyover. Need 68 plots of land.
The extra expropriation for the station gates:
1) Klong Bang Phai - 5 plots
2) Talad Bang Yai - 7 plots
3) Bang Yai Intersection - 8 plots
4) Bang Ploo - 13 plots
5) Bang Rai Yai - 13 plots
6) Tha It - 11 plots
7) Sai Mah - 7 plots
8) Pra Nanklao Bridge - 33 plots
9) Nonthaburi 1 [Sanambin Nam] - 13 plots
10) Sri Porn Sawan - 15 plots
11) Nonthaburi Hall [Kae Rai] - 10 plots
12) MOPH [Rewadee] - 16 plots
13) Tiwanon -27 plots
14) Wong Sawang - 20 plots
15) Bang Son - 42 plots
16) Tao Poon - 94 plots
Bang Phai depot of 163.5 rai requires 417 plots of land.
The extra expropriation for Park and Ride:
1) Bang Yai Intersection - 4 plots
2) Tha It - 15 plots
3) Nonthaburi 1 - 1 plots
MRTA has ensured the people from Bangkok-Nonthaburi road that they would get compensation at market prices. He even said he will ask the consultant whether he can cut the size of land for the gates which requires 200 square wah for each gate.
OTP said those who have the land expropriated have the right to get the prime commercial area inside stations. No metro mall inside the stations though--only 7-11s are allowed. Nevertheless, MRTA would give the first 10 years of commercial area leasing for free, but those who lease the space would have to invest on their own.
The consultants said the construction could be started in January 2006 to be done and opened on December 5, 2009 with a 15 baht flat rate.

The list of station for four feeder commuters proposed by OTP - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Building and Land Weekly, June 25-July 1, 2005
1) Northern Line -> Rangsit - Ban Phachi - likely to be electrified
Station Name - Km from Bangsue
Rangsit - 22.2
Khlong Nhung - 26.2
Chiang Rak - 29.9
Thammasat University - 32.6
Nava Nakhon - 36.5
Chiang Rak Noi - 38.4
Khlong Phutsa - 44.3
Bang Pa-In - 50.4
Ban Pho - 55.2
Ayutthaya - 63.5
Ban Ma - 67.1
Map Phra Chan - 71.4
Phra Kaeo - 77.8
Ban Phachi Junction - 82.4

2) Eastern Line -> New Makkasan - Chachongsao - likely to be electrified
Station Name - Km from Bangsue
New Makkasan - 9.3
Khlong Tan - 12.5
Hua Mak - 18.0
Ban Thap Chang - 23.7 -> Not constructed due to lack of demand
Soi Wat Lan Boon - 26.8 -> Not constructed due to lack of demand
Lat Krabang - 29.8
Pra Chom Klao - 32.9
Hua Takhe - 33.5
Khlong Luang Phaeng - 42.1
Preng - 49.1
Khlong Bang Phra - 56.6
Chachoengsao Junction - 63.6
3) Southern Line -> Talingchan - Nakhon Pathom - likely to be electrified
Station Name - Km from Bangsue
Taling Chan Junction - 14.5
Ban Chim Phli - 17.0
Phuttamonthon Sai 2 - 19.9
Sala Thammasop - 22.5
Sala Ya - 27.5
Wat Suwan - 31.9
Khlong Maha Sawat - 35.5
Wat Ngiu Rai - 39.8
Nakhon Chaisi - 44.1
Tha Chalaep - 49.0
Ton Somrong - 53.3
Nakhon Pathom - 57.1

4) Mahachai - Mae Klong - Pak Tho - likely to be DMU due to the lack of demands
Station Name - Km from Bangsue
Mahachai - 43.6
Tha Chalom - 46.4 [lots for people go across Thachit here]
Ban Chi Phakhao - 48.1
Khlong Nok Lek - 50.1 [missing station sign]
Bang Si Kot - 5022 51.2
Bang Krachao - 53.0
Ban Bo - 54.9
Bang Thorat - 57.4
Ban Ka Long - 60.2
Ban Na Khwang - 61.6
Ban Na Khok - 64.0
Ket Muang - 67.7
Lad Yai - 72.0
Bang Krabun - 74.5
Mae Klong - 78.1
Bang Kaphom - 84.5
Amphawa - 89.3
Wat Pleng - 95.7
Pak Tho - 99.4

Premier Thaksin asking for barter on imported subway rolling stock - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Bangkok Biznews, June 15, 2005
Premier Thaksin is asking MRTA to come up a barter trade scheme for the imported Subway rolling stock before the local assembly becomes a reality. This is to control the current account deficit while BOI and FTI agree on a local assembly scheme. A plan for local assembly will be submitted to the cabinet soon.
The mass transit expansion has to take the current account balance into account. The foreign suppliers may not have to set up the local assembly to reduce the investment risks, but local assembly is a much better deal. However, the purchase of imported equipment should be through barter trade--not counter trade as has been done before.
The urgency for mass transit expansion is to cut travel time from 4-5 hours a day for those who have no car or 2 hours for those who have a car to 15-20 minutes.
The 1.7 trillion baht investment on megaprojects [12 billion baht are new projects while the rest are old projects] would have to be financed by taxes, loans, and barter trade to keep the trade balance in check. E -Auction with the observation by the media would solve collusion problems
Even though BOI and FTI agrees with MRTA about the local assembly line for subway, the details such as the number of rolling stock, the local content percentage, and investment package demands would depend upon each investor's demand.

Earlier: Thailand does not need a train factory - TNA, June 15, 2005
Earlier: Visiting the London Tube and Alstom's rolling stock factory - Manager, June 6, 2005
Earlier: Rolling stock assembly line--1000 sets needed - Matichon, May 16, 2005

Train makers vie for Thai deals - Bloomberg News, June 22, 2005
Siemens, which has supplied $1 billion in trains and equipment to Bangkok in the past decade, is facing competition from Alstom to win contracts from Thailand for subways, railroads and highways by 2010.
The contracts are worth 601 billion baht, or about $14.6 billion...
Overseas companies have lost money on Thai mass-transit projects in the past. In 1998, when the Thai economy shrank 10.5 percent at the height of the Asian financial crisis, the government scrapped a $3.7 billion elevated rail-and-road contract with Hopewell Holdings of Hong Kong after the company had completed 12 percent of the network. Hopewell had spent 1.45 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $187 million, on the project.
In 1992, the government scrapped a $2.3 billion contract awarded to SNC-Lavalin Group, Canada's biggest engineering and construction company, seven years after approving a plan to build an urban rail system that never went ahead...

List of stations for OTP's plan for commuter feeder lines - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Siamthurakij, June 18-21, 2005
OTP is speeding up the implementation for the new commuter line to feed both the Red Line Commuter and Pink Airport Link. This may be either a DMU network or EMU network in the same fashion as KL Kommuter, depending upon the frequency and fuel hikes.
The corrected list of station along Commuter Feeder Line
1) Rangsit - Ayutthaya - Ban Phachi -> likely to be EMU due to high demand
( Distance in KM from Hua Lamphong)
1.01) Rangsit 29.75
1.02) Khlong Nhung 33.84
1.03) Chiang Rak 37.47
1.04) Thammasat University 40.19
1.05) Nava Nakhon 44.12
1.06) Chiang Rak Noi 46.01
1.07) Khlong Phutsa 51.88
1.08) Bang Pa-In 58.00
1.09) Ban Pho 62.75
1.10) Ayutthaya 71.08
1.11) Ban Ma 74.69
1.12) Map Phra Chan 78.98
1.13) Phra Kaeo 85.44
1.14) Ban Phachi Junction 89.95

2) Makkasan - Hua Mark - Chachoengsao -> another likely candidate for EMU due to high demand.
The corrected list of the new New Commuter Line - to feed Suvannabhum Airport Link -> likely to be electrified for EMU Stations
(Distance in km from Hua Lamphong)
2.01) New Makkasan 6.98
2.02) New Khlong Tan 9.85-11.14
2.03) Hua Mak 15.18
2.04) Ban Thap Chang 20.87
2.05) Soi Wat Lan Boon 23.94
2.06) Lat Krabang 26.75
2.07) Pra Chom Klao 30.33
2.08) Hua Takhe 30.91
2.09) Khlong Luang Phaeng 39.50
2.100 Preng 46.50
2.11) Khlong Bang Phra 53.99
2.12) Chachoengsao Junction 60.99

3) Taling Chan - Nakhon Pathom -> another likely candidate for EMU due to high demand
(Distance in KM from Thonburi - to Hua Lamphong add 16 km more)
3.01) Taling Chan Junction 6.08
3.02) Ban Chim Phli 8.64
3.03) Phuttamonthon Sai 2 11.47
3.04) Sala Thammasop 14.05
3.05) Sala Ya 19.06
3.06) Wat Suwan 23.46
3.07) Khlong Maha Sawat 27.05
3.08) Wat Ngiu Rai 30.80
3.09) Nakhon Chaisi 35.13
3.10) Tha Chalaep 40.02
3.11) Ton Somrong 44.30
3.12) Nakhon Pathom 48.12
4) Mahachai - Maeklong - Paktho -> requiring missing links and major bridges across Thachin and Mae Klong after waiting for the link with the main trunk lines since 1908. A likely candidate for DMU due to the lack of demand unless fuel prices reach intolerable levels compelling SRT to electrify and construct double tracks.
A major rail rehab is also needed for this route after using 50 lb/yard rail since the 1960s.
(Distance in km from New Mahachai - Assuming that missing link at Tachin is 2 km and at Maeklong is 2 km)
4.01) New Mahachai 0 [AKA Samut Sakhon]
4.02) Tha Chalom 0.84+2
4.03) Ban Chi Phakhao 3.71+2
4.04) Khlong Nok Lek 5.41+2
4.05) Bang Si Kot 6.72+2
4.06) Bang Krachao 8.68+2
4.07) Ban Bo 10.72+2
4.08) Bang Thorat 13.64+2
4.09) Ban Ka Long 15.60+2
4.10) Ban Na Khwang 17.76+2
4.11) Ban NA Khok 19.79+2
4.12) Ket Muang 23.55+2
4.13) Lad Yai 27.48+2
4.12) Bang Krabun 29.98+2
4.13) New Mae Klong 33.57+2+2 [AKA Samut Songkram]
4.14) Amphawa (?)
4.15) Bang Khaphom (?)
4.16) Wat Pleng (?)
4.17) Pak Tho (?)

The list of budget for new commuter routes
Route Distance DMU (Billion baht) EMU (Billion baht)
1) Rangsit - Ayutthaya - Ban Phachi 60 km 32.623 35.746
2) New Makkasan - Hua Mark - Chachongsao 54 km 26.697 27.502
3) Talingchan - Salaya- Nakhon Pathom 43 km 24.529 24.344
4) Mahachai - Mae Klong - Pak Tho 56 km 43.609 49.314
213 km
127.458 136.906
DMU has a maximum speed of 120 kph. EMU has a maximum speed of 160 kph with 20-25% higher costs than DMU.
Train makers vie for Thai deals - Bloomberg News, June 22, 2005
Siemens, which has supplied $1 billion in trains and equipment to Bangkok in the past decade, is facing competition from Alstom to win contracts from Thailand for subways, railroads and highways by 2010.
The contracts are worth 601 billion baht, or about $14.6 billion...
Overseas companies have lost money on Thai mass-transit projects in the past. In 1998, when the Thai economy shrank 10.5 percent at the height of the Asian financial crisis, the government scrapped a $3.7 billion elevated rail-and-road contract with Hopewell Holdings of Hong Kong after the company had completed 12 percent of the network. Hopewell had spent 1.45 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $187 million, on the project.
In 1992, the government scrapped a $2.3 billion contract awarded to SNC-Lavalin Group, Canada's biggest engineering and construction company, seven years after approving a plan to build an urban rail system that never went ahead...

Mae Hong Son-Chiang Mai tunnel proposed - TNA, June 15, 2005
The journey from Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai in the North of Thailand is along windy mountain roads, but now local businesses want to cut through this problem by building a tunnel linking the two provincial capitals.
Mr. Phoonsak Suntharapanichakul, President of the Mae Hong Son Chamber of Commerce, said that the tunnel would become cost-effective, given the continuously rising price of fuel.
Under the proposals, the government would provide financial support for the construction of a tunnel, which would slash the journey time between the two provinces.
The tunnel would pass through the Thanon Thongchai mountain range, and would pass by tambon Huay Pu Ling and into tambon Wat Chan in Chiang Mai.

PM insists on transparency of mega projects - TNA, June 15, 2005
Transparency is vital for the success of the government’s large-scale infrastructure development projects, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said today.
The prime minister, whose government has become embroiled in a scandal surrounding the procurement of bomb detection equipment for Bangkok’s new international airport, the Suvarnabhumi Airport, said that all the bidding for the ‘mega projects’ would be conducted by electronic auctions to cut out opportunities for corruption...

Thailand does not need a train factory - TNA, June 15, 2005
Thailand’s Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has warned that the government must take into account the country’s trade deficit when considering importing elevated trains from overseas.
" If we have to, our counterpart must import Thai goods to help reduce our trade deficit. We have to thoroughly think through many factors that are in the best interests of the country,” Mr. Thaksin told journalists on Wednesday.
But, he said, he did not see a need for foreign investor to build a factory for elevated trains, even though it would help transfer the technology to Thailand.
Mr. Thaksin said Thailand needed to invest in a good mass transport system to improve the quality of life for Thais and to help reduce the country’s energy imports.
Earlier: Visiting the London Tube and Alstom's rolling stock factory - Manager, June 6, 2005
Earlier: Rolling stock assembly line--1000 sets needed - Matichon, May 16, 2005

Global road safety initiative launched for ASEAN countries - ADB, June 15, 2005
...The Global Road Safety Initiative (GRSI) is funded by seven of the world's largest auto and oil industry companies. The companies - Ford, GM, Honda, Michelin, Renault, Shell and Toyota - are all members of GRSP, which will be the delivery organization for the initiative.
GRSI is to be undertaken in low and middle income countries and will focus on the key risk factors identified in the World Health Organization's (WHO's) 2004 World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention. These include seat belt and helmet use, alcohol, inappropriate speeds, and safety of pedestrians and cyclists...

Cabinet approves Bt1.70 in 5-year mega project investment - The Nation, June 14, 2005
Cabinet Tuesday approved plan to invest Bt1.701 trillion in mega projects during 2005-2009, proposed by the Finance Ministry.
According to the ministry's statement, 25 per cent of the total budget would be invested in mass-transit projects, 19 per cent in other transport projects, 12 per cent in housing projects, and 12 per cent for water developments.
Of the total funding, Bt657.94 billion, or 39 per cent, will be from the fiscal budget; Bt222.28 billion, or 13 per cent, from state enterprise revenue; Bt410.03 billion, or 24 per cent, from onshore bonds and borrowings; Bt305.03 billion, or 18 per cent, from offshore borrowing, and Bt105.47 billion from other sources, including initial public offerings and securitisations.

Chaos looms at Lat Phrao junction - BMA decides to close lanes from early July - Bangkok Post, June 13, 2005
...The road's partial closure was scheduled to start on June 15. However, it was postponed because traffic police and city officials were unsure how to handle traffic problems in the area once construction begins.
The city administration, its contractor and traffic police have now reached an agreement on a traffic solution and the partial road closure will start in the first week of next month. Construction is likely to end on Nov 25...

Transport Ministry's powers grow - Somkid sketches 2nd wave of state reform - Bangkok Post, June 13, 2005
The Transport Ministry will be more powerful but the Information and Communication Technology Ministry will lose some of its influence under the second wave of bureaucratic reform to streamline government agencies.
The Transport Ministry will be renamed the Infrastructure and Transport Ministry and will grow with the Public Works Department, transferred from the Interior Ministry, coming under its umbrella...

Upgrading Soi Udomsuk and Soi Lasalle into roads - Changing the name of Soi Inthamara into Soi Sutthisarn Winijchai - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thairath, June 7, 2005
BMA has decided to upgrade Sukhumvit 103 (Soi Udomsuk) and Sukhumvit 105 (Soi Lasalle) into Udomsuk Road and Lasalle Road due to the fact that both sois have become 4-lane roads (no longer 2-lane sois).
Furthermore, the name "Soi Inthamara" (the name came from the surname of a land developer--Lt. Pol. Gen. Toh Inthamara ) is not fit for the name of a main street. Sutthisarn Winijchai comes from the royal name of Luang Sutthisarn Winijchai. This change will be as follows: Soi Sutthisarn 5 for Soi Inthamara 1, Soi Sutthisarn 4 for Soi Inthamara 2, etc.

Visiting the London Tube and Alstom's rolling stock factory - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager, June 6, 2005
BTS Skytrain and MRTA Subway have become the favorite mode of transportation around CBD areas of Bangkok due to fast and comfortable service. However, massive expansion is needed to cover more than 300 km distance around Bangkok and suburbs.
MRTA and BMCL have been to London to see the management of the London Tube so as to improve the management of BMCL to meet world class standards after January 17, 2005 Bangkok Subway crash. They will also inspect rolling stock production and testing facilities of Alstom in France.
The London Tube has been in service since 1863 and British Government has set up TFL in July 2000 to take charge of transportation around the London metro area covering London buses, London Tube, and Dockland LRT with total distance of 580 km. The financial resources for such massive mass transit system come from the following three sources:
1) Revenue from passenger services of all mass transit systems in London - 51%
2) Central government support - 48%
3) Local government of London Metro - 1%
There are 5.4 million passengers/a day for the mass transit systems in London including 3 million passengers a day for the London Tube.
The Department of Transport (DFT) controls TFL while TFL has set up DLR as a subsidiary to control the Dockland Railway LRT as well as to grant the extension of private concession lines while allowing the service and maintenance of Dockland LRT to be done by other companies.
For the case of the London Tube, DFT has set up LUL (London Underground Limited) to run London Tube while allowing other companies to run the maintenance/rehabilitation of tracks and rolling stock.
For safety, HMRI would function as the inspector of the system as well as the approval issuers for utility usage before and after opening the service as well as investigators on serious accidents.
There is another agency to handle leasing rates collected from the train operator for the track.
TFL Officers have told Minister Suriya about the benefits of the integrated tickets for mass transit systems such as buses, Subway/Skytrain, railway and LRT:
1) Solving redundant expenses on transportation to encourage more people to take mass transit systems instead of private cars while the government could collect excise tax from private cars entering the CBD--nearly 100 million GBP a year (7 billion baht a year) while cutting down on private car usage by 15%.
2) Doubling real estate value along tube/mass transit lines compared to the investment on the mass transit systems enabling both central and local governments to collect more land/building taxes as well as corporate taxes.
3) Encouraging the massive expansion of mass transit systems.
Even the London Tube has 3 million passengers a day (more than 100 million trip a year) but has to swallow an annual loss of 50 billion baht a year since it is mass transit system.
Nevertheless, BMCL has hired Lloyd's Register Group to function as an independent auditor of the Subway from June 2005-December 2006 with a price tag of 12 million baht. Lloyd's will send officers to make a comprehensive inspection of the subway system and recommend necessary changes for BMCL to ensure world class safety along with knowledge transfer on safety inspections.

ALSTOM shows the driverless heavy rails used in Singapore
The massive expansion of mass transit systems has encouraged the producers to invite MOTC to visit and inspect their rolling stock production facilities. One of the main rolling stock producers, ALSTOM, has invited MRTA, BMCL and MOTC to visit the rolling stock facility at Varensones, France and watch the performance of the driverless heavy rail rolling stock used for Singapore NEL (Northeastern Line) and CCL (Circle Line - 120 carriages) as well as Shanghai Metro Line 3 (Pearl Line) and Line 5 (Xinmin Line). This driverless subway rolling stock is controlled from a control center and shows strong interest to compete with other firms for the local assembly and the extension of the subway in Bangkok.
ALSTOM is a very big mass transit producer firm at the same level as Siemens (Germany), Bombadier (Canada) and ROTEM (Korea) with rolling stock facilities in 8 countries including USA, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, mainland China and so on. 21% of ALSTOM stock are is held by the French Government.
All seven lines of the mass transit system must have safely as the first priority. Even though the driverless subway rolling stock is good, the high price tag--even higher than the conventional subway rolling stock--makes MRTA think twice about this type of rolling stock.
ALSTOM also picks SYSTRA to show a new design of the elevated section of the subway system with a u-shape design for high safety and a transformable sound barrier wall into emergency walkways with 25% cheaper construction costs than a conventional design. Actually, ALSTOM and SYSTRA nearly won the contract for the first section of Blue Line subway, but a glitch forced BMCL to pick Siemens instead. MRTA has shown strong interest on SYSTRA design, but it cannot be used for the Bang Yai-Bang Sue Line since the design is already finished.
Both London and Paris transportation management have the common feature that it has centralized subway, bus, and commuter trains to create single integrated tickets which is the same thing the government wants to create along with 360 km of mass transit systems along with local assembly of mass transit systems. This would be a landmark achievement for Premier Thaksin.

'Mega projects' fail to take shape - TNA, June 8, 2005
The government’s ambitious mega investment projects received a setback yesterday when the committee responsible for state investment admitted that it had failed to reach a conclusion on government ‘mega projects’ for next year...
Nonetheless, he stressed that the mega projects committee would closely supervise investment funding to ensure that it did not push Thailand’s current account deficit above 2 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP)...
A source from the Ministry of Finance revealed to TNA reporter yesterday that under the government’s original mega project plans, 38.5 percent of the funding was to be drawn from the national budget, 14.5 percent from state enterprise income, 36.9 percent from domestic and foreign borrowing, and 10.1 percent from other sources.

The MFC version to finance Mass Transit System - MOF vs. MFC - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Matichon, May 30, 2005
Mr. Phichit Akkharathit (the director of MFC Funds PCL- MFC Asset management
) said even though Premier Thaksin and MOF are embracing securitization on land, farmers' debts, and even cattle, they refuse to come up with securitization on the 563.117 billion baht mass transit scheme due to claims from MOF about the high cost for securitization which is a big lie from MOF.
Director Phichit has shown that the securitization of mass transit system does not cost as much as MOF claimed due to the benefit of mass transit system itself. However, this securitization scheme requires rational project planning with the clear revenue resources and excellent management.
The MFC director said that MOF has kept many lucrative properties within their portfolios, but they utterly failed to realize the potential-especially the land along mass transit lines within their portfolio. This is just like using deposit accounts as loan collateral instead of using savings within the deposits to finance the projects to avoid paying loan interest.
MFC is trying hard to help the government avoid borrowing or spending too much of the annual budget. The loan should be reserved for non-financial viable projects such as education, health care, and agriculture (the government has always had very opposite viewpoints since they always founds ways to exploit education funds, health care funds, and agricultural funds).
MFC also condemned MOF that their mentalities are out of touch with today's reality. For example, they still worry about the revenue uncertainty so much that they still stuck on the old loan and annual budgets and wait for revenue from property development, concessions, new tax hikes on polluters, and new license plate taxes which are no longer enough for the mass transit projects. This due to the fact that the MOF officers are not accustomed to new financial instruments or spending future money yet. So far, the investment of 280 billion baht to construct tunnels and lay tracks while keeping national debts within 50% of GDP.
MFC has pointed out the different viewpoints between MFC and MOF. MOF prefers decentralized management while MFC prefers centralized management--especially the single public company to handle financial matters, capitalization,and engineering matters relating to the construction. This is very important to ensure the project finishes on time. After that, they can split or keep it as a single company. However, MOF has failed to come up with clear management even though the project could be an economic stimulant from the current doldrums. The clear management scheme would attract more foreign investors.
It is very reasonable not to separate the ones who find financial resources from those who spend money (unless the government has a hidden agenda to siphon the public money and avoid responsibilities if the project fails). This is a contrast with MOF's scheme which separates those who finance the project from those who spend it. MOF's plan has implied that MOF is going to reject any plans for check-and-balance on the spending and financing of projects so that they can spend as they go without any responsibility.
Furthermore, MFC said more competitors holding concession for each line would create competition to be a benefit for the passengers. However, passengers better prepare to pay tax hikes to finance this project such as the license plate tax, environment tax, and a new property tax for the land and buildings along the subway line. This is the same scheme as Hong Kong Subway has employed with successful results.
MFC also opposes the nationalization plan because it has created a very bad image to foreign investors by threatening to seize control without paying good compensation. They should pay for the BTS and BMCL stocks at market prices and come up with the provision to allow the joint venture with the government so they would willing to sell stock and have joint tickets. The holding company scheme of MOF would force BTS and BMCL to end up as corrupt state enterprises.

Earlier: Thailand gets creative in infrastructure projects - Financial Times, May 22, 2005
Securitisation is becoming the new buzzword of Thailand's financial industry. In fact, analysts believe Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra sees it as a relatively painless way of helping fund his $40bn infrastructure programme...

MASS-TRANSIT SYSTEMS : Debt Fund to acquire operators - The Nation, May 25, 2005
The Thaksin government will reportedly establish a fund to finance purchases of shares from operators of the subway and the Skytrain and fund mega-infrastructure projects worth Bt1.7 trillion...

[Day to day the buyback plan for the Skytrain and subway is either canceled or still underway. Below are some past articles from the Thai press that show the ongoing saga.]
Coming up with two new LRT lines and nationalization - Manager Daily, December 15, 2004, Dailynews, December 16, 2004, and Thai Post, December 16, 2004
Suriya wants taxes to ensure a 15 baht flat rate for the Subway & insists that he will never give up the plan to nationalize the Skytrain - Thai Post, November 5, 2004
MASS TRANSIT NATIONALIZATION CANCELED - Premier Thaksin stuns Suriya by revoking the plan for Skytrain-Subway nationalization - Than Setthakij, November 4-6, 2004
Premier Thaksin selling the dream for the new smart card--15 baht for boat/Subway/Skytrain/bus - Manager Daily, August 28, 2004
What are the real costs of taking over the Skytrain-Subway? - Thaipost, July 19, 2004
Suriya sets up negotiation committee to deal with the nationalization of Subway-Skytrain - Manager Daily, July 1, 2004
Speeding up nationalization for Skytrain and subway--private sector refuses to sell at par - Prachachart Thurakij, February 12, 2004
Political motivations and obstacles behind the mass transit sell-out - Prachachart Thurakij, February 2-4, 2004
Pliew and Khiree preparing to sell the Skytrain-Subway - Than Setthakij, February 1-4, 2004

Settlement on Mochit park and ride - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thairath, May 23, 2005
OTP, MRTA, and BTS have come up with the settlement on the Mochit park and ride expenses: BTS: 62.5% and MRTA: 37.5%
This rate can be modified every year accordign to actual usage. This is much better deal since it is closer to the actual usage
Parking for BTS: 64%
Parking for MRTA: 31%
Parking for other matter: 5%

Rolling stock assembly line--1000 sets needed - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Matichon, May 16, 2005
The MRTA Governor said they are going to push the government to invite foreign investors to set up a local assembly line for subway rolling stock by granting an attractive investment package on the joint venture with local Thai firms. The local assembly would enable Thailand to develop the local assembly of rolling stock production to meet the public demand from BTS, MRTA and SRT. There are several major producers for subway rolling stock on the list of MRTA such as:
1) Siemens - Germany
2) Alstom (formerly ALSTHOM) - France
3) Bombadier - Canada
4) ROTEM (owner of the rolling stock section of Daewoo) - South Korea
5) Japanese firms (e.g. Hitachi + Kawasaki, Nippon Sharyo, Kinkii Sharyo, Fuji to please JBIC)
Their forecasted demands for subway rolling stock are at least 1000 sets and this local assembly line would also enable SRT to supply passenger rolling stock for the Airport Link as well as electrified commuter networks and move the DMUs to meet rural demands for local railway trips--and even realizing the Chaing Mai LRT and northern local railway networks.

Allocation of financial resource for the mass transit system - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager Daily, May 6, 2005
Allocation of financial resource for mass transit system: Budget 30% - Domestic loan 40% - Foreign loan 30%
The condition: When the current account deficit is more than 2% of GDP, the projects will be delayed or canceled.

MRTA vs. BTS on Mochit Park and Ride issue - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thairath, May 9, 2005
MRTA and BTS are bickering with each other over the Mochit Park and Ride expense issue since MRTA said they should pay only 30% of expenses while BTS should handle the other 70% of Park and Ride expenses since more passengers are riding BTS. On the other hand, BTS said the 50-50 deal is still okay for them. Asking BTS to handle 70% of Park and Ride expenses instead of the current 50% is too much to swallow.
MRTA is asking OTP to mediate this Mochit Park and Ride issue. So far, OTP have checked the ratio of Park and Ride usage and they found that:
1) During the school period (November 2004 - March 2005) 82% of Park and Ride usage are BTS passengers while 13% are subway passengers [the rest are those who go to the Chatuchak Weekend Market area].
2) During the summer period (April 2005) 60% of Park and Ride usage are BTS passengers while 30% are subway passengers [the rest are those who go to the Chatuchak Weekend Market area].

Modified mass transit plan from OTP - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Prachachat Thurakij, May-5-7, 2005
After looking at the ongoing plans for mass transit expansion, OTP decided to modify the priorities according to the updated info:
1) Suvannabhum Airport Link Extension -> Phyathai - Chitladda - Bangsue - Donmuang (21.1km). This got is the first priority since the plan is nearly done. This line has to be ready by the end of 2009.
2) Bangsue - Talingchan Red Line Commuter (14.7 km) -> Second priority since Bangsue-Talingchan Expressway blueprint is on the way to be finished in June 2005. However, they need to take Rama 6 Bridge into account since it has been registered as a 'Historical Place' with Department of Fine Arts.
This is also the substitute for the line across Chao Phraya to Thonburi.
3) Bangsue - Rangsit Red Line Commuter (24.5 km) -> Third priority since there are strong demands, but the plan is not done yet. To be done in the next 4 months.
4) Bangsue - Bang Yai Purple line of MRTA (23 km) -> Another route with strong demand from the people of Nonthaburi. They even ask for the extension to Bang Buathong despite the objection from the Ministry of Finance. Need at least six months to finish the blueprint
5) Taksin Extension (2.2 km) and Samrong Extension (8.9 km) of BTS. BMA has declared the winner for the contractor biddings. However, the debt restructure and political football between BMA and the government are the main obstructions despite strong demands for both routes.
BMA has already approved the 1.9 billion baht budget for handling the Samrong and Taksin Extensions in the year 2006.
6) Red Line Commuter (Hualamphong - Mahachai -> 30 km)
[Mahachai route deserves the connection with the main railway lines and the bridge across Chao Phraya from Maha Pruttharam to Lad Ya are the main reason to realize the link. There are already 17 inbound trips and 17 outbound trips between Wongwian Yai and Mahachai all full. This line also needs feeder buses to pick up passengers at Central Rama 2 to feed Bang Bon Stop.]
The blueprint will be done in the next 4 months
7) Red line commuter network (Bangsue - Makkasan, Bangsue - Hua Lamphong) (18.5 km) - This will complete the necessary red line commuter networks.
8) Orange Line (Bang Kapi - Victory Monument - Bang Bumru) (24 km) The underground section (21 km) requires lots of time to handle, especially the route from Thailand Cultural Center to Samsen.
9) Purple Line Phase 2 (Bangsue - Rat Boorana) (23 km) The underground section requires lots of time to handle especially the section that passes Rattanakosin Island.
10) Blue Ring ->Bang Khae extension (14 km) and Charan Sanitwognse route (13 km) The underground section that passes Rattanakosin Island and Wat Arun requires delicate handling.
11) Phaholyothin extension of BTS (Mochit - Lum Lookka), Phra Nok extension (National Stadium - Phrannok) and Paknam Extension (Samrong - Pak Nam) The giant water tunnel of MWA and the Senanikhom Flyover are the main obstacles for the Phaholyothin extension despite strong demands.
The delicate issue of Rattnakosin Island requires at least 12 months for extensive studying.
12) Yellow Line LRT (Lad Phrao - Bang Kapi - Sri Nakharin - Samrong) ->32 km - Require further studies.
13) Pink Monorail -> 27km (Pakkret - Laksi - Minburi) - A provision for Monburi - Rom Klao - Lad Krabang extension.

From the Thai-language press: Advice for mass transit - Extensions to Thonburi first - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Matichon, May 3, 2005
Ajarn Manop Phongsathat (Instructor of Housing Development, Dept of Architecture, Chualongkorn University) told the press that the mass transit expansion may have to be divided into a 3-phase development according to priorities. Only the first two phases will be done in 4 years while phase 3 will be done in the next 8 years.
The first phase would consist of the following routes:
1) Thonburi routes which consists of
1.1) Bangkhae extension of Blue Line (Hua Lamphong -Tha Phra - Bang Khae) due to the high population density
1.2) Blue Ring (Bangsue - Bang Pho - Charansanitwongse - Tha Phra)
1.3) Purple Line phase 2 (Bangsue - Rat Boorana)
1.4) Taksin Extension + Phetkasem Extension
2) Suvannabhum Airport Link (Phayathai - Makkasan - Suvannabhum)
3) Route to Paknam (Onnut - Samrong - Samut Prakarn)
Phase 2 will consists of the following lines
1) Airport Link Phase 2 (Phyathai - Chitladda - Bangsue - Donmuang - Rangsit)
2) Bangsue - Talingchan route
3) Mahachai Extension (Hualamphong Wongwian Yai - Mahachai
Phase 3 will consist of
1) Bangyai Extension (Bangsue - Bang Yai - Klong Phai)
2) Orange Line (Bang Bumru - Bang Kapi)
30% of funds will come from the budget while the other 70% will come from Foreign loan (JBIC + KfW loan).
Ajarn Manop has warned OTP about the financial issues as well as the viable lines while focusing on MRTA routes. Ajarn Manop also advises OTP to transfer the responsibility for the Airport Link to BMA and BTS if SRT cannot handle this monumental task. However, OTP still insists that they are going to build all 7 lines in 6 years instead of 8-12 years.
MRTA said they have delivered the proposals to handle all 3 routes (Orange, Purple, and Blue Ring) with the investment of 300 billion baht. They will start on Bang Yai Line first due to the ease of construction even though they know too well that it may not be a very profitable line. However, the rest will follow by the end of 2006 and MRTA plans to get all 3 routes done in 2010 despite the looming hardship and financial constraints.

From the Thai-language press: BMA City Council refusing to approve the budget for smart traffic systems - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Dailynews, May 2, 2005 and Thairath, May 2, 2005
After investigating the additional budget of 5,076,847,000 baht, BMA City Council said even though they approve the amount of the budget they still have to cut some unnecessary project such as
1) 226 million baht for Smart Parking Lots at Phra Khanong and Ratchathewee
2) 3.4 million baht for studies of the masterplan for flood control in Phyathai, Dindaeng, and Huay Kwang district
This reduced budget is going to pay for the improvement of flyovers, BMA Mobile Service Office, and the expansion of Song Prapha road in Donmuang.
The reasons for cut the budget of smart traffic is unclear info. It may not be a worthy investment since it takes 90 seconds to park each car and the last car needs to wait 75 minutes. 20 baht/hour and 200 baht a day rate is too much. Therefore, BMA City Council is approving only 4 million baht to handle the studies on smart car parking instead.
Furthermore, some irregularities have been found in the 1.89 billion baht budget for BRT projects (e.g. procurement instead of leasing).
Deputy BMA Governor Samart said they can cancel the bidding for smart car parks if the BMA Council refuses to approve the budget.

From the Thai-language press: Purple Line budget cut - BRT may become a substitute - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Khao Hoon, April 29, 2005
The Ministry of Finance is asking to scrap the Purple Line (Bangsue - Bang Yai) and then come up with BRT as a substitute. Even Premier Thaksin agrees with Minister Somkhid that the government budget is going higher and they are trying to control public debt within 30-40% of GDP.
MOF is asking the government to scrap seven unworthy lines and replace them with BRT since BRT is 70 times cheaper than a subway and 36 times cheaper than a Skytrain.
This kind of measure is due to the fact that each agency has come up with its own pet project without cooperating with one another so some unnecessary projects have appeared without consent from MOF.
There are too few passengers for the Purple Line so BRT can be a substitute--especially the Rattanthibet section at a very wide road.
Only the lines with a high potential will receive budget approval and as well as the Suvannabhum Airport Link. For MRTA, the worthy routes are
1) Orange Line (Bang Kapi - Bang Bumru)
2) Blue Ring (Hua Lamphong - Bang Khae, Bangsue - Tha Phra)
3) Purple Line Section 2 (Bangsue - Rat Boorana)
Even Premier Thaksin said he has to agree with MOF to trim the budget so as to keep the national debt in check (30-40% of GDP from 50% GDP limit) and they have to add more taxpayers' money to finance the budget while the foreign loans will focus on supplier credit (e.g. Siemens, etc.). The government also has to limit debt financing from 15% of the annual budget to 10% to keep the budget in check (2007-2008). This will force the government to make another study so as to come up with the highest potential lines.

Govt should finance sky train project with offshore loans - The Nation, April 7, 2005
The government should seek Bt70 billion in offshore loans to invest in new seven routes of the elevated electric train system in order to alleviate government's budget spending...
NCR points out on the forum that they are not talking about the BTS Skytrain (which the government is still preventing from expanding), but citywide rail system routes the government is proposing.

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