Skytrain News 2003

Pressure on Skytrain to sell out - December 30, 2003
Wisarut reports: Creditors have applied very brutal measures to force BTSC to restructure debts in favor of the creditors by stating that: "no extensions allowed until BTSC has restructured debts."
This is very critical moment since the demand for extensions has grown to a critical point, but creditors just try to squeeze profits from the existing routes while prohibiting BTSC from investing on extensions--unless BTSC allows creditors to take over the system which can be sold to N-Park. Even though the integration of mass transit system is a must, it is too bad it has to be accomplished like this.

Related: N-Park aiming to takeover BTS to expand their real estate business - Prachachart Thurakij, December 22-24, 2003
& Natural Park major shareholder in BMCL - Than Setthakij, December 18 - 20, 2003

Siemens eyes rolling stock plant - Bangkok Post, December 29, 2003
Siemens is considering plans to set up an assembly plant for rolling stock in Thailand to capitalise on the government's long-term goal of developing a multi-billion-baht mass-transit system in Bangkok...

Balance sheet of BTSC - translated and summarized from Matichon Daily, December 20, 2003
The balance sheet of BTSC will be as follows:
1) Direct revenue from services: 2.5 billion baht
2) Indirect revenue from FOREX (Foreign Exchange): 2.3 billion baht
Operating Cost: 3.0 billion baht
Debt Payments: 1.1 billion baht
Profit (Loss): 0.7 billion baht
Commentary: Hopefully the balance sheet of 2004 will be profitable, with more revenue from services so as not to rely too much on FOREX fluctuation.
Even though the Taksin extension might not be ready for December 5, 2004, it should be ready in the first quarter of 2005 since those who live around Thonburi are running out of patience.

Reporting Skytrain profits - December 20, 2003
Below are excerpts of this week's news about Skytrain profits and the future of the extensions. As usual the Thai-language papers reported the news first and the English-language papers followed (interestingly enough on the same day) a few days later. The Bangkok Post is notable in explaining the debt bind BTS is in. Another point is an admission that the Taksin extension will not open until 2005 at the earliest.

BTSC reaping 3 million baht profit and increasing after MRTA becoming a reality - translated and summarized from Dailynews, December 17, 2003
Anat Abhabhirom, advisor to BTSC Board of Directors said after four years in operation, the average number of passenger is 340,000 a day compared with the first year which had 140,000 passengers a day. Daily revenue is about 7 million baht with a profit of 3 million baht--but still not enough to pay interest. The company expected the number of passengers to increase by 10.15% to reach 400,000 passengers a day due to economic prosperity and traffic jams.
MRTA subway will also help to boost the number of passengers for BTSC by thousands a day due to three connections at Mochit Asok and Silom. However, the smart card system installation will not be ready in 2004 since it requires BTSC to invest on the new computer system which can accept the smart cards and negotiate with MRTA.
The new viaducts are being installed at Siam Discovery Center as well as President Hotel. BTSC is investing 1.1 billion baht on the Taksin extension (2.2 km), but the opening date has been delayed to 2005 due to a snafu on the contractor selection for the construction of Charone Nakhorn and Taksin Station. Even though this section will need a fare hike, BTSC needs to negotiate with BMA for the new terms and wait until the stations are done before handling over the signals and rolling stock. After Taksin extension is done and opened in 2005, it will boost the number of passengers by 2-30,000 passengers a day.

BTS finally rolling into the black - Bangkok Post, December 20, 2003
...However, despite the expected operating profit, the company still will have an accumulated loss of around 11 billion baht. The company is continuing with efforts to restructure its debt, which has put it at loggerheads with creditors over the past four years.
Mr Kasem said the company was about to complete negotiations with creditors on several critical issues including debt-to-equity conversion and debt rescheduling, but there had been no agreement on a proposed debt write-down.
The company has requested that 15% of its outstanding debt worth about 45 billion baht be written down, he said. The creditors in turn proposed that BTSC reduce its registered capital to 10% of its current level of 18 billion baht.
In addition, the creditors voted against any service extension plans by the company until it can get its finances in order. Mr Kasem said that once the debt restructuring issue was settled, the company would be ready to invest another 5-6 billion baht to extend the Sukhumvit line 8.9 kilometres from Onnuj to Samrong. The investment in the Sukhumvit extension line will likely come from private capital injections and an initial public offering. The two extension projects are likely to begin next year.

BTSC coming back to the stock market in 2004 - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, December 20, 2003
Kasem Jatikawanit (AKA Mr. Super K - the Chairman of BTSC Board of Directors) said BTSC will be back to offer an IPO by the end of 2004 after the balance sheet turns profitable by 6-700 million baht--the first year profitable due to a10% increase of passengers. BTSC considers the MRTA subway as the one factor that boosts more passengers for the Skytrain and is not a rival at all. BTSC will do their best to speed up the Taksin Extension to be done by the end of 2004.
So far, BTSC gets annual revenue of 2.5 billion baht with a .0.6-0.7 billion baht profit--10% expansion of revenue with 1.3 billion baht in cash. Thus be able to pay 75-80% of the current interest rate which is 1.5 billion baht a year. Furthermore, BTSC feels convinced that they can cut down the principle of 30 billion baht by 15% (4.5 billion baht) enabling BTSC to be able to offer an IPO in the booming stock market by the end of December 2004.
BTSC decides to invest 1.6 billion baht on the 2.2 km Taksin extension which will boost Skytrain passengers by 30,000 a day with a revenue of 600,000 baht more a day (an 8% increase). BTSC will invest 5-6 billion baht in the 8.9-km Samrong extension. It will require 900 days to construct the route.

BTSC negotiating with creditors - translated and summarized from Thairath, December 20, 2003
Kasem Jatikawanit (AKA Mr. Super K - the Chairman of BTSC Board of Directors) told correspondents from Thairath that after four years service BTSC has become profitable for
the first time.
The average daily passengers is 360,000 a day - the annual revenue is at 2.5 billion baht, the expense is 3.9 billion baht and profit from exchange rates is 2.0 billion baht with net profit of 0.7 billion baht. BTSC expects a growth in passengers of 8% due to the surging demands and economic prosperity.
For the investment on extensions, BTSC is negotiating with Siam Commercial Bank PCL, KfW, and IFC (three major creditors) to restructure the debts of 32 billion baht. Initially the three major creditors refused to negotiate with BTSC, but now they began to see the point to restructure the debts to enable BTSC to invest on the extensions and thus boost revenue to be able to pay off debts to the creditors faster. There are three major points for debt restructure:
1) Trimming debts by
1.1) writing off the 4.5 billion baht outstanding interest
1.2) writing off the 4.5 billion baht of the current 30 billion baht principle
1.3) Cutting down the capital
2) Turning debts into equity to enable the creditors to grab more share on BTSC--proportional to the debts BTSC owes
3) Extending the debt payment from 2011 to 2017
BTSC hopes that the creditor will agree with the BTSC debt restructure plan by the end of 2004. After that, BTSC will offer an IPO to capitalize the stock and get more funds (at least 6 billion baht) to invest in the Samrong Extension as well as other future extensions.

BTS finally sees a profit, but interest debts loom - The Nation, December 20, 2003
Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTS), which runs the capital's Skytrain, yesterday announced a projected net profit of up to Bt700 million for this year on revenue of Bt2.5 billion.

Using negotiation as a way to speed up the Skytrain extensions - translated and summarized from Dailynews, December 2, 2003
The BMA City Clerk has sign the contract to hire a consultant to deal with the studies on six Skytrain extensions with a price tag of 50 million baht. The extensions are
1) Sukhumvit extension from Samrong to Samut Prakarn (7.9 km) with a branch line from Bangna to Wat Sri Iam Intersection via Bangna - Trat Highway (4 km)
2) Silom extension from Taksin Road to Phetkasem (4.5 km)
3) Phaholyothin extension from Mochit to Donmuang (10.7 km) with a branch line from Lam Lookka Road to Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road (14 km)
4) Pinklao extension from National Stadium to Pinklao Bridge (Bangkok Side - 4.5 km)
5) Onnut - NBIA (20 km)
6) Mahachai extension from Taksin - Phetkasem to Mahachai parallel with Mahachai Railway (28 km).
BMA Traffic Bureau will use price negotiation instead of bidding which requires more steps and takes more time to implement. These extension projects are at the first priority to get done in six years. The Traffic Bureau will call three contractors (Italian Thai Development, Ch Karnchang, and Sino-Thai Engineer and Construction) to negotiate with the company about the details and make a decision which company offers the best deal to BMA.
Commentary: The first four extensions and branches follow the master plan, and are thus easy to get approval--even though there will be several conflicts between BMA and the Traffic Policy Office about the section from National Stadium to Pinklao. However, the 5th and the 6th extensions are unlikely to get approval since the Skytrain extension to NBIA has been delayed until the Southern terminal becomes a reality. BMA aims to get a share of NBIA (new airport) passengers as quickly as possible, and thus they have come up with such extensions. The section to Mahachai also duplicates the Southern extension of the commuters train and is unlikely to get approval.

BTS extensions delayed by one month
- translated and summarized from Dailynews, November 3, 2003
Even though BMA has called a bid they have not decided the winners for all three contracts yet. However, at least two contractors will be disqualified by technical problems due to stringent criteria.
Commentary: It seems to me that Stecon, ITD and CH. Kanrchang will be qualified while others get barred from such business.
BTS needs a big boost to encourage more passengers to use the new Orange line to reach at least 400,000 passengers a day and the Purple Line to reach at least 600,000 passengers a day.
I hope that the 2nd phase after 2010 will come up with some modifications to fit into the local demands (Lad Phrao, Sri Nakharin, Muangthong Thani - Pakkret, Makkasan, Thepharak, etc.).

Fears over Skytrain bidding - November 2, 2003
It has long been feared that construction plans for the Skytrain extensions would be indefinitely delayed by legal proceedings. Wisarut reports another bit of news absent from the English-language press:
Discuss these stories on the Forum
I got the news from Thrairath Daily (October 31, 2003) that BMA decided to delay the announcement of the winner for the construction of Samrong and Taksin Extensions to December 3, 2003 even though they are 90% finished reading the bidding details. It seems to me that the contractors are working to lobby the committee to declare the winners of bidding process while accusing others of being either the poor losers. This leakage of news about possible collusion and pressure has caused much controversy. I hope that BMA will declare the victors of bidding very soon or court proceedings will ruin the project.

The details of the new Skytrain extensions - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Siam Thurakij, October 19-25, 2003

Lines Distance (km) Budget (billion baht) Construction
Onnut - Samrong 8.90 8.43615 2003-2006
Samrong - Samut Prakarn 7.90 9.71499 2004-2009
Saphan Taksin-Taksin Road 2.20 1.06657 2003-2004
Taksin Road - Phetkasem 4.50 2.95000 2004-2006
Mochit - Saphan Mai 10.70 16.942700 2004-2007
National Stadium - Pinklao 4.5 17.77007* 2004-2009
* Will be increased since the Traffic Policy Office is asking BMA to stretch this section to Pinklao via Siriraj Hospital.
The Rattanakosin Extension will go along Rama I Road and then turn right to go along Bunthatthong Road (Rama VI Road) before going parallel with Saensaeb canal and Mahanak canal to Saphan Phan Fah Bridge. Then it will go along Ratchananada canal and pass the back of BMA City hall to reach Sanam Luang at Rattanakosin Hotel (a hotel nearest to Sanam Luang). After that, the route goes underground from Sanam Luang to Pinklao via underground tunnel and Siriraj.
BMA feels confident that BMA could undertake the construction tasks without financial problems and without delay using local tax revenue. However, BMA needs to get some help from MRTA to dug the tunnels by making a joint venture.
However, BMA has to suspend the proposed 20-km Airport Link (with a budget of 20.354 billion baht) since SRT is going to deal with that matter. Therefore, BMA should focus on upgrading the facility at Phayathai for linking with the Airport Commuter (Phayathai - NBIA) with comfort.
Commentary: It seems to me that BMA may come up with the extension from Bang Na to Wat Sri Lam and beyond (at least to Hua Mark Railway Station) once SRT has completed the Airport Rail Link as a way to make a feeder line and pick up passengers at SEACON Square.
Going into Rattanakosin Island from Phadung Krung Kasem canal (e.g. from Bo Bae market--the place where Saen Saeb Canal and Phadung Krungkasem Canal intersect) are required to be underground according to the 1995 cabinet resolution. However, BMA seems to ignore this fact. Expect to face strong protest from temples along the route.
Therefore, I think BMA should plan for doubling the estimated budget for National Stadium - Pinklao section from 17.7 billion Baht to 35 billion baht as the way to pay for the double tunnels and subway stations from Bunthat Thong to Pin Klao.

Skytrain extension from National Stadium to Siriraj Hospital - translated and summarized from Dailynews, October 10, 2003
[Help with acronyms is here.]
After a meeting between the Traffic Policy Office and mass transit operators, BTSC [along with MRTA], MRTA [along with BMCL], SRT, Traffic Policy Office has suggested to BMA and BTSC that: "The Western extension of Skytrain will be elevated from National Stadium and then go along Rama I Road until it reaches Bunthat Thong. After that, the line turn right to go along Rama 6 Road and then go along Mahanak Canal until it reaches Phan Fah Bridge.
After reaching Phan Fah Bridge, the line will go along Ratchananda Canal [the canal which is the demarcation line between Wat Ratchanandaram and Wat Thepthidaram] and pass City Hall to reach Saman Luang at Rattnakosin Hotel [this hotel receives heavy damage during popular uprisings such as the October uprising and Black May]. After that the line will become an underground line to go across Chaophraya Parallel to Pinklao Bridge. The line will end up at Siriraj Hospital [either at Phran Nok intersection or the Bangkok Noy Railway Station]"
The western section from National Stadium to Siriraj Hospital is 6 km long and will alleviate congestion at Thonburi.
BMA also submitted the plans for construction of the Skytrain extensions to get a final decision from Premier Thaksin:
1) Northern Extension, Mochit - Saphan Mai - 8 km
2) Taksin Extension Phase 2, Taksin Road - Phetkasem (Bang Wah) - 4.5 km
3) Paknam Extension, Samrong Station to Samut Prakarn (Paknam) - 8 km
4) Bang Na - Wat Sri Iam + Park and Ride at BITEC - 3 km
BMA will have a consultant to handle these 4 projects within this year (2003).
Commentary: Going along Mahanak canal has double-edge impact.
1) Allowing access into Bo Bae Market - a giant garment market
2) Reaching Rachadamnoen Avenue at Phan Fah
3) Route is very close to the Giant Swing and BMA City Hall
4) Reaching Sriraj Hospital and Bangkoknoy Railway Station
1) Going through sensitive areas of Ban Krua
2) NOT going along Ratchadamnoen Avenue, thus less passengers
3) Going between the temple areas requires heavy compensation [temples typically require huge sums when construction encroaches]
4) NOT reaching Pin Klao area to pick more passengers
Therefore, the Traffic Policy Office and BMA should consider constructing the Western extension by combining the defunct Hopewell project (route from Yommaraj - Sanam Luang) and the connection from National Stadium to Yommaraj as well as the new route from Sanam Luang to Siriraj Hospital. The route should also go to Pinklao area to pick up more passengers and connect with the Northern Ring.
Comments on the four Skytrain construction projects being submitted:
1) The Northern Extension is definitely good for BMA and BTSC due to the strong demand and that this route follows the masterplan (so it will be easy to get approval). The only catch is that the giant water pipeline from Lad Phrao to Kaset and the Senanikhom Flyover both need to be cleared.
2) Taksin Extension Phase 2 - Taksin Intersection - Phetkasem
This route also follows the master plan and will be easy to get approval. Strong demand from Thonburi will push the project forward. The only catch is the via ducts connecting Thaphra Station with Talad Phloo Railway Station as well as the Mall Tha Phra and the via duct plus interchange connecting Subway and Skytrain together.
3) Paknam Extension - Samrong - Samut Prakarn
This route also follows the master plan (easy to get approval). Strong demand from those who live in Samrong, Phra Padaeng and Paknam will push the project forward.
The only catch is the infrastructure clearance along Sukhumvit Road and the joint venture plan between BMA City Hall and Samut Prakarn City Hall to finance the project.
Feeder bus to Phra Padaeng and Bang Plee are also in demand to ensure picking up passengers from Samut Prakarn.
4) Bang Na - Wat Sri Lam
This one is a shorter version of the Skytrain NBIA Extension according to the 1995 Masterplan and includes a Park and Ride at BITEC. This line has the advantage that it allows a direct link with BITEC and passes Central City Bang NA It also allows future extension to NBIA via Sri Nakharin and Onnut Road which also passes by Seacon Square--a great boon to BTSC.
The big catch is that BMA needs to make a settlement with the Expressway Authority as well as Highway Department to allow construction along Bangna - Bang Pakong Highway. Otherwise, BTSC and BMA will have to construct a route along Udomsuk Road (Sukhumvit 103--a route from the masterplan. A via duct connecting Central City Bang NA and BITEC is also needed to ensure easy passenger movement.

Who will win contracts for Skytrain extensions and who will complain - translated and summarized from Prachachart Thurakij, Vol. 27, No. 3521
The bidding for 9.5-billion BTSC Extension on October 3, 2003 was quite competitive. It will take one month to make an assessment and declare the winner on November 3, 2003.

However, it seems that STECON will be the sure winner for the Taksin Extension (Saphan Taksin - Taksin Intersection 2.2 km - 1.05 billion baht). Only Naowarat Patthana and ITD would be contenders.
For the first section of Samrong Extension (Onnut - Bearing - 5.25 km - 4.2 billion baht), the sure winner is Ch. Karnchang while Naowarat Patthana and ITD are contenders.
For the second section of Samrong Extension + depot (Bearing - Samrong Tai - 3.65 km - 4.3 billion baht), the sure winner is ITD while Naowarat Patthana, Ch. Kanrchang PCL, and STECON are contenders.
The losers are already sending letters to Premier Thaksin to investigate. If this case follows to patterns of past accusations of collusion, a corruption probe will follow.
For the case of BTSC, it will be able to run the Taksin extension with spare sets of Skytrain rolling stock and it will need 10 more sets for the Samrong extension. However, creditors have not approved the investment plan for the Samrong extension yet. Governor Samak and the new BMA Governor will have a daunting task to negotiate with creditors to fund the projects.
Commentary: I hope that the settlement will come soon to allow the construction of the extensions without delay.

Planning Skytrain passenger levels - translated and summarized from Manager Daily - September 23, 2003
BTSC Needs to expand their services to compensate for the decreasing numbers of some sections--even though the Taksin extension will raise the number of passengers by 30,000 trips a day from current 330,000 trips a day (15,000 for the trip from Thonburi to Bangkok and the other 15,000 trips from Bangkok to Thonburi). BTSC has raised the target for December 2003 to 400,000 passengers a day.
However, the target for December 2004 may have to be trimmed down a little bit until the joint ticket system have been installed. BTSC might also need to find ways to increase future Thonburi passengers to a higher level than present targets.
BTSC needs to apply the same measures to get even more passengers and break the barrier of 500,000-600,000 passengers a day when Samrong extension becomes a reality after 2006.

Skytrain gets go-ahead for line extension - Bangkok Post, September 23, 2003
Creditors have agreed in principle to a partial moratorium for two years, allowing Bangkok Mass Transit System Co (BTSC) to extend its elevated railway service on the Silom line to Taksin road...
The structure of the 2.2km extension from Taksin station near Chao Phraya river to Taksin road is nearly complete. Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction Plc built it under an old elevated bus lane project initiated when Bhichit Rattakul was the Bangkok governor. The structure was sealed over the river yesterday in a ceremony presided over by Bangkok governor Samak Sundaravej.

Proposing a walkway along the Skytrain route at Ratprasong - translated and summarized from Thairath Daily, Sept 18, 2003
The correspondents at BMA City Hall said the Traffic Bureau and Central Pattana have surveyed Ratprasong Intersection area to make a study for the feasibility of a new 800-m walkway from Hyatt Erawan Hotel to Siam Station via Central World by the request of Central Department Store (Chitlom). It will be air-conditioned and consist of booths for rental to sell products. Three studies found that it is suitable to construct the air-conditioned viaduct. The walkway will be 5.2 m high from the ground level (not to block buses and trucks) and 7 m wide.
However, new pillars are needed, ventilators must be installed, and strong emergency exits must be constructed. The aesthetic design must be ensure harmony with the surroundings. There are several shrines around the Ratprasong area (Thao Mahaphrom as a good example).
BMA and Central Pattana are gathering details on construction methods and the design of the air-conditioned walkway before meeting with Governor Samak in October this year.
Commentary: I hope that this will connect Siam Station with Chitlom Station, thus allowing passengers to stay on the via duct during the New Year Count down at Ratprasong. During that time there are about 100,000 people gathering at Ratprasong intersection. Therefore the new viaduct must be strong enough to carry the sheer number of people.

BMA to receive 26.5 billion baht from 30-year Skytrain concession - translated and summarized from Dailynews, September 9, 2003
After the meeting between BMA and BTSC on September 5, BTSC agreed to freeze the ticket prices for two extensions since the current inflation rate is much lower than 7% (about 2% at most).
BTSC will receive 26.5 billion baht revenue from the concession and BTSC will transfer ownership to BMA at the end of concession on December 5, 2029.
After the 31st year, BTSC will receive 143 billion baht revenue in 20 years. For this matter, BTSC will extend the concession to BTSC for another 20 years, or ask BTSC to run the service while BMA still retains ownership and collects ticket money. If BTSC receives profit higher than 14.5% of revenue, BTSC will have to give BMA more revenue sharing in addition to the concession payments.
BTSC will have to draft a detailed plan for revenue sharing from commercial development inside the stations before submitting the plan to BMA Board.
BTSC will have to invest 1 billion baht on signal and rolling stock on the Taksin extensions (2 stations, 2.2 km) while BTSC can use old rolling stock to run the services. The BTSC Board have approved the investment plan for the Taksin extension.
For the case of Samrong extension (7 stations, 8.9 km), BTSC will have to invest 10 billion baht on signals and rolling stock. However, the BTSC Board have to wait for the contractors to handle the project before making a final decision.
After getting the contractors (on October 3), BMA will ask the contractors to start construction immediately. The Taksin extension will be completed in 1 year while the Samtorn extension will be completed in 3 years. After the construction for each section is done, BTSC will run the service immediately.

Skytrain extensions being studied--possibly ready by 2007 - translated and summarized from Siam Turakij, August 31- September 6, 2003
Thaweesak Loedpraphan (Director of Transportation Section, BMA Traffic Bureau) said that the BMA Traffic Bureau has planned for the second phase of the Taksin Extension (Taksin Intersection - Tha Phra - Phetkasem) with a distance of 4.5 km and a price tag of 2.95 billion baht and Phaholyothin Extension (Mochit - Ratchayothin - Kaset - Saphan Mai) with a distance of 12 km and a price tag of 16.942 billion baht. Both are undergoing studies on feasibility and environmental impact. If both sections pass the environmental assessment, bids will be called by the end of 2004. If the contractors are approved by the cabinet, the second phase of the Taksin extension will be open for service by the end of 2006 (preferably December 5, 2006) and the Phaholyothin extension will be opened for service by the end of 2007 (preferably December 5, 2007 for the 80-year Anniversary for His Majesty). More on the Taksin extensions.
Commentary: The installation of Smart Card System at the terminals (Saphan Mai - [AKA Ying Charoen Flea Market], Phetkasem [AKA Bang Wah]) as well as significant stations (Tha Phra which is close to The Mall Tha Phra, Kasetsart which is close to Kasetsart University, Phaholyothin which is close to Central Lad Phrao, Ratchayothin which is close to SCB Park Plaza) is necessary to facilitate movement between Subway and Skytrain systems. If BTSC gets more credit, they will be able to install Smart Card systems in all stations, potentially doubling the number of daily passengers.
BMA and Krungthep Thanakhom should help BTSC deal with creditors, since creditors are now aiming to take over BTSC.
After Phaholyothin Extension becomes a reality, BTSC should consider the Bangkok Ring Railway as a part of the new line of the Skytrain so as to pick up the passengers not living along the routes.
The routes not covered by Skytrain extensions will need to have a feeder bus system. Thus, the new feeder bus route from Ratchayothin to Mochit 2, Ratchayothin to Chadrakasem, Kasetsart to The Mall Ngam Wongwan, Memorial Bridge - Wongwian Yai - Taksin Intersection, Phetkasem - The Mall Bang Khae (temporary measure until Subway has been extended to BangKhae), Charoen Nakhon - Big C Ratboorana - Pracha Uthit - KMUTT [King Mongkut University of Technology, Thonburi], The Mall Tha Phra - Mahai sawan - Rama II Highway - Central Rama II, The Mall Tha Phra - Pinklao - Southern Bus terminal, etc. New Park and Ride facilities are necessary but pretty hard to find.

BMA launches bid for Skytrain extensions - The Nation, August 27, 2003
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration yesterday launched a bid for the Bt9-billion construction to extend three skytrain routes, expected to be complete in 2006...
Five bidders are competing for the contract to build three extended routes. They are Sino-Thai and AS Joint Venture, Italian Thai Development Plc, CKBB Joint Venture, a consortium led by Civil Engineering and Nam Prasert Construction, and Naowarat Patanakan Co.
Following construction, Bangkok Transit System Co (BTS), the present service-provider, is slated to operate all four extended routes. Bangkok Governor Samak Sundaravej said he was negotiating to further extend the services from the capital to two outlying provinces of Samut Sakhon and Pathum Thani... BTS has net earnings of Bt2 million per day from the daily ticket sales of Bt6 million.

Skytrain in bankruptcy court
- translated and summarized from Prachachart Thurakij, Vol 27 No 3509, August 28, 2003
[Try finding this news in the English-language papers!]
Khiree Kanchanaphak says he has worked so hard, even with frustration, to deal with the debts of BTSC and declared that he will protect the 35% of BTSC shares held by Thanayong at all costs even though the creditors forced him to sell more shares to them. Khiree hopes that the bankruptcy court will pass a new restructure plan. Khiree is trying to point out to creditors that the extension projects will help both creditors and passengers.
This is the first time we see Khiree Kanchanaphak after the Bankruptcy Court refused to approve the debt restructure plan drafted by Thanayong Planner Co.Ltd on August 15, 2003. The judge stated that the debt restructure plan is not fair to creditors which have been lumped into the same group since they receive unfair payment.
The debt restructure said Thanayong will reduce capital and then raise capital by 1.423 billion baht by selling shares to new investors and new creditors, but BTSC needs a 650 million baht credit line from the new partners and creditors to run the company. Such a problem caused Khiree to ask for court protection to prevent the enforcement by creditors.
Khiree told correspondents on August 26, 2003 that everything is going step by step, nothing smooth, nothing easy.
He appealed to the Bankruptcy Court on August 18 for a new plan and the courts had received the new plan on August 22. The plan is pending.
The previous debt restructure plan is opposed by the second group of creditors--the creditors with collateral such as vacant land, the unfinished section, the finished sections, and BTSC shares.
There are 14 creditors who opposed the BTSC debt restructure plan.
1) Royal Household (via Royal Household Treasury - a subsidiary of Royal Crown Property Bureau)
2) Italian Thai Development PCL
3) Thai Samut Insurant PCL
4) Mr. Anake Nilphanapan
5) SCF Financial PCL
6) Siam City Syndicate PCL
7) Nakhorn Luang Credit PCL
8) The Law Debenture Trust Corporation PCL
9) Credit First Boston (Hong Kong) Co.Ltd.
10) Ms. Anit Kannasutra (the Kannasutra family is the owner of Italian Thai Development PCL)
11) Satan International (Thailand) Co.Ltd.
12) Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction PCL
13) CTF Resources CO.Ltd.
14) Unknown--but not Siemens or KFW
Credit First Boston is not the largest creditor and the largest shareholder. Credit First Boston holds only 20% of shares. The problem with Credit First Boston is settled though. STECOn and ITD (the contractors) cases are still not settled.
Khiree said he has a way to deal with the future to prevent the loss of ownership. Everybody wants to get BTSC shares which he initiated by his own hands. He says he has already experienced lots of pain and has felt exhausted many times thus he refuses to let it go easily and will fight at all costs. Everything will be settled in the next few months. Thanayong Planner will modify the debt restructure plan so both debtors and creditors feel satisfied.
Thanayong held 35% of shares [the largest shareholder] while CTF is the second. Debt payment at the same levels are really difficult, but he will try to protect the core business [BTSC].
[Note: Khiree will probably fight at all costs in the same way Mr. Prachai of TPI has done before.]
The revenue from both lines of BTSC growth is 20% -> 7 million baht a day while the advertising revenue is 200-300 million baht a year. However, debts and expenses are very high.
Khiree felt confident that the extensions will boost passengers and revenue. So far, there are more than 300,000 passengers a day--still far from the target of 600,000 passengers a day, but much better than the first two years when there was only 150,000 passengers a day.
Khiree says that the rumour that BMCL is going to take over BTSC is a false rumour. If there are some shareholders who want to sell their shares to BMCL, he would not forbid them to do so.
Thanayiong has invested 50 billion baht to initialize the system even though Thanayong still carries a heavy burden of debt and Thanayong cannot generate more income to cover the expense of BTSC. Furthermore, Thanayong cannot find a partner to deal with real estate matters. The creditors who hold shares of BTSC refused to approve the debt restructure plan on April 22, 2003 - after several postponements.
The outstanding equity held by creditors who have BTSC shares as collateral is about 5.785 billion baht (14% of debts). The outstanding debts to be paid to the creditors is 39.510 billion baht - 28.031 billion baht of principle and 11.209 billion baht of interest.
Commentary: BTSC better install a smart card system as soon as possible to allow MRTA passengers to go around Sukhumvit, Silom, Siam, and Victory Monument areas while allowing passengers from Skytrain routes to go to Bangsue and Ratchadaphisek, and the Convention Center. However, BTSC needs to explain to the creditors that the smart card system will increase passengers and revenue to pay debt.

Five firms seek B9.5bn deal - Bangkok Post, August 16, 2003
Five construction consortiums are likely to vie for the 9.5-billion-baht project to extend the BTS skytrain system to Samrong and Phetkasem. They are Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction Plc, Ch Karnchang-Bilfinger, Nawarat Patanakarn, Civil Engineering and Italian-Thai Development Plc.
We ran this story on Thursday (The five contractors competing for BTS extensions - translated and summarized from Dailynews - August 11, 2003). The Dailynews story added the detail that only Italian Thai Development PCL is large enough to be able to handle the project without a joint venture with foreign firms.

The five contractors competing for BTS extensions - translated and summarized from Dailynews - August 11, 2003
For the 9.502 billion baht Skytrain extension projects, there are five qualified contractors, most in the form of a joint venture. Only Italian Thai Development PCL can go it alone. The qualifying companies are:
1) SinoThai Engineering and Construction PCL and AS Associate
2) Italian Thai Development PCL
3) Ch. Karnchang and Bilfinger
4) Civil Engineering and Nam Prasoed PCL
5) Naowarat Phatthanakarn and Cruasifer
All the qualified contractors must draft technical details about the construction and the price - to be ready to bid by October 3, 2003.
However, BMA will invite representatives from the qualified contractors to see the construction sites first. After picking a winner, BMA will nominate the contractors to the cabinet to approve and sign the contract to ensure that there will be the budget for this project no matter who will become the new government while the project is underway. Construction could be started by the end of 2003.
The criteria for qualified bidders are:
Have done work in Thailand - elevated ways at the price not less than 750 million baht, railway construction not less than 500 million baht - or done work through a joint venture.

Constructing the three Skytrain-Subway interchanges - translated and summarized from Dailynews, July 28, 2003
For the pending three skyways to connect Mochit with Chatuchak, Asok with Sukhumvit and Saladaeng with Silom, MRTA will construct the first two skyways at Mochit and Asok first since they are only a few meters away from each station and can thus be constructed immediately.

However, the third connection at Saladaeng requires 100 million baht to set up since it is 100 meters away and needs an overpass.
BTSC said they have no cash to pay for all three connections, thus only the first two will be constructed. MRTA is asking BMA to help BTSC pay for the three connections if BTSC cannot pay. However, it is uncertain whether BMA would pay MRTA for the three connections since BMA has not paid MRTA for the cost of demolishing the Ratchada-Lad Phrao Flyover even though BMA is supposed to do so. Probably, a court settlement will be needed.

A photo from the Morchit Subway Station on March 14, 2001 - The pedestrian tunnel that leads to the opposite side of Phahonyohtin Road. This connects the Morchit Subway Station to the Skytrain Station.

Filipino Skytrain anecdote - July 22, 2003
Wisarut dug up this interesting anecdote from a Filipino blogger: I just got back from a five-day trip to Bangkok, Thailand, to visit Firestone’s tire factory there. The city is full of gleaming skyscrapers and shopping centers, and with the elevated highways and SkyTrain, the horrific traffic jams of yesterday have been greatly minimized. Surprisingly for a city of 12 million people it seemed cleaner than Manila, with many more trees and less air pollution. Of course, the Thai people were as friendly and gracious as those Thai Airways ads claim they are, no doubt adding to my satisfaction. I managed to take the SkyTrain twice to go shopping in the Emporium Shopping Center. We stayed at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit Hotel and there was a SkyTrain stop just in front of us. Just like the MRT in Manila, this system uses magnetic fare cards, but unlike in Manila, they are sold solely from vending machines. I didn’t know this during my first attempt to ride the SkyTrain, so I innocently approached the ticket booth manned by human attendants. I slipped a 20-baht note through the window and expected to get a fare card and change of 10-baht. Instead I got two ten-baht coins. When I pushed one of these back at the attendant, he finally told me to get my ticket from the machine behind me. In this comedy of errors, I felt like I was pushing money back and forth through the window and would never get a ticket!

Who will run the Skytrain extensions?/Two new extensions to be studied - translated and summarized from Dailynews, July 24, 2003
Thus far, there is only one contractor who has bought a bidding form for the Samrong and Taksin Extensions, but there is still time (until August 8) to buy forms. Even though the cabinet resolution which dictated 100% private investment has not been amended to allow public investment yet, BMA decided to call a bid since BMA has received 700 million baht from the cabinet to handle Skytrain extensions in 2003 [Bangkok Metropolitan Administration - 'City Hall' or the local city government -].
Therefore, BMA needs to call a new bid to get the contractor to be submitted to the cabinet for approval. The BMA expected to get the contractor approved by the cabinet by the end of 2003 to be able to start construction in early 2004 and finish the project by the end of 2006.
BMA Traffic Bureau is going to propose studies on two new Skytrain extensions -
1) NBIA Extension [New Bangkok International Airport] - from Onnut to NBIA via Sri Nakharin, Wat Sri Iam Intersection, and Bangna-Trat Highway
2) Phaholyothin Extension - from Mochit to Saphan Mai
For the case of concession holders for the proposed routes, BMA could call a new bid while constructing the tracks so as to speed up the project. Nevertheless, BMA will ask BTSC first if the company wants to deal with the concessions of the new extensions. Only those who could offer a better deal than BTSC will be granted a concession [Bangkok Mass Transit System Company - company that operates the Skytrain - ].
BMCL could rival BTSC since BMCL is running the service for the MRTA Subway [Bangkok Metro Co. Ltd., subsidiary of Ch. Karnchang PCL - company chosen to operate the subway -]. However, BTSC has a cutting edge since it runs the rest of the Skytrain already. Only those who offer the best deal with BMA and the highest benefit for the people would get new concessions.
Commentary: For the case of going from Onnut to NBIA, the route will please those who live in the southern Bangkok suburbs such as those those who live along Bangna -Highway, Sri Nakharin Road, while causing a big frown from those who live in the northern section - including tourists from NBIA who are going to downtown Bangkok unless the NBIA route has been constructed in a way which allows rapid service from NBIA to downtown Bangkok as well as the northern section. Thus, BTSC must upgrade Phra Khanong and Onnut Stations as interchanges for the system. The route would be about 30 km if it is to go to the underground station at the NBIA main terminal--running along the moat surrounding the airport or parallel to the road from the southern gate to the main terminal would be fine if it is not obstructing the landing and the flying routes. However, the track would have to be modified once the southern terminal becomes a reality.
Furthermore, this extension is not in the master plan at all - even though some sections (from Sri Nakharin to NBIA) still follow the 1995 pattern, non-masterplan mass transit is hard to get approved. On the other hand, the Phaholyothin Extension to Saphan Mai will please most of northern Bangkokians such as those who live in Ratchayothin, Sena Nikhom, Kaset, Bang Bua, Bang Khen, and Saphan Mai as well those who are covered by future feeder bus routes. The extension also allow movement between those who live in northern Bangkok suburbs and those who live in the southern Bangkok suburbs, thus alleviating traffic jam. The Phaholyothin extension to Saphan Mai is following the master plan so it is not difficult to get approval.

Samrong officials agree to Samrong Skytrain Extension - translated and summarized from Thrairath Daily & Dailynews, July 23, 2003
Mr. Thana Cheerawinij (member of the BMA City Council- Democrat) heads a special committee to handle the 8.9-km Samrong extension of Skytrain for BMA - with a price of 9.2 billion Baht - and held a meeting with Samrong officials.
During the meeting, the representatives from Samut Prakarn such as Deputy Governor of Samut Prakarn Wijarn Phadungwithee and Muang Samut Pracharn District Director Chen Chuensiwa complained that Samut Prakarn City Hall and the district office have not received data about Skytrain extension to Samut Prakarn to explain to local people.
BMA Deputy Governor Sanan Tothong responded to the complaints from the representatives of Samut Prakarn that the Skytrain extension to Samut Prakarn will have strong benefit to all, not just the Bangkokians. Actually, BMA has been cooperative with the Samut Prakarn City Hall, but maybe sporadically.
Nevertheless, the Deputy Governor of Samut Prakarn has told those who attended the meeting that the Municipality of North Samrong has unanimously approved the Samrong extension along Sukhumvit Road. Furthermore,the district office of Samut Prakarn also will allow BTSC to construct a park and ride facility on 14 rai of land behind the District Office of Muang Samut Prakarn. BTSC will have to come up with a feeder bus to pick passengers up from the park and ride to Samrong Station - until the Skytrain is extended to Samut Prakarn City Hall in the future.
The only worrying thing would be the foundation laying around Erawan Shrine. The vibration during the construction and after opening the service could have very detrimental effects on the structure of Erawan Shrine which has a 200-metric ton copper statue of Erawan.
Mr. Thana responded that BMA will ask the contractor to use foundation pins to reduce the detrimental effect during the construction toward the Erawan Shrine. Nevertheless, BMA has attached the provision that if the structure of the Erawan Shrine suffers during the construction or after the opening of the service on December 5, 2006, the consultants and the contractors will take full responsibility to fixing the shrine.
BMA also asks BTSC to freeze the ticket price to the 10-40 baht level as the way to gain benefit from both sides due to an additional 100,000 passengers as well as the convenient transportation for locals.

Bidding for the Skytrain extensions in October - ITD/Ch. Karnchang are apparent winners - translated and summarized from Prachachart Thurakij, July 21-23, 2003
The bidding process for Skytrain extensions will be held on October 3, 2003 - after purchasing the form BMA Traffic Bureau from July 18-August 4, 2003 separated into 3 sections - with a total price of 9.2 billion baht.
1) Samrong Extension - Bang Na Section (or Bangkok Section) - Onnut to Soi Bearing (Sukhumvit 107 - the Boundary Pole) - 5.25 km with a price of 3.875 billion baht.
2) Samrong Extension - Samrong Section (or Samut Prakarn Section) Soi Bearing (Sukhumvit 117) - Soi Wat Trai Samakkhi (Sukhumvit 119) - about 100-200 meters before reaching Erawan Shrine - 3.65 km and a new depot and maintenance center to allow more space to store the next batch of rolling stock in the future with a total price of 4.296 billion baht
3) Taksin Extension - from Saphan Taksin to Taksin Intersection. 2.2 km 1.036 billion baht
Rama III Extension is on the hold since it has less passengers than expected.
For the service, BTSC will be called first - If BTSC declines - the new bid to take over the Skytrain services will be held.
So far, the government has approved 600 million baht to handle the extensions. BMA has the responsibility to handle the extensions to be ready for service in December 2006 for Samrong extension and December 2004 for the Taksin Extension. The Taksin extension is already using a modified structure - speeding up the construction - and only the two stations will be built.
On the other hand, it is necessary to construct new pillars in the middle of Sukhumvit Road for Samrong extensions so it is necessary to remove all the infrastructure from the construction area - need to construct the new one before removing the old one to prevent service interruption.
There will be 7 stations for the Samrong Extension:
1) Sukhumvit 97 (Soi Saeng Duen or Bangchak [Much better known name] - near Sukhumvit 62 (the gate to the expressway)
2) Sukhumvit 101 (Soi Punnawithi) - should named be Thammamongkhol according to the well-known place near the station - can be moved to Sukhumvit 101/1 to connect to the station with Food Lion and Piyarom Sport Club near Sukhumvit 101/1 - but the station should not be on the curve of Sukhumvit Road)
3) Sukhumvit 103 (Umdomsuk) - could be readjusted to become a new interchange if BTSC is keen enough to deal with Highway Dept. to construct an Airport Extension to NBIA (according to a 1995 plan). However, such an idea has been stalled due to the high price tag--30 billion baht for a route to the southern part of the airport--from Bang NA to NBIA-15 kilometers and another 6 kilometers from Bangna-Trat Highway (Km 15) (total 21 km). The price could become 40-50 billion baht if BTSC decides to add another 8 kilometers to reach the underground Main Terminal of NBIA.
4) Department of Meteorology (or BITEC even though it is closer to Department of Meteorology since BITEC is much better known - needs to have a via duct to link the station with BITEC)
5) Sukhumvit 107 (Soi Bearing - the Boundary Pole)
6) Sukhumvit 111 (Soi Porn Sawang Village - the first station in Samut Prakarn - with a connection to Imperial World Samrong, Samrong Plaza on one side and Food Lion and Super Safe on the other side) - should be named Wat Dan Samrong (Sukhumvit 113) since it is much better known - or Samrong Nuea to cover the area
7) Sukhumvit 115 (Soi Aphichard - not far from Poochao Samingprai Intersection, Carrefour, Chainiom Building, National-Panasonic [Thailand]) - Terminal Station - Samrong Tai) The rest from Sukhumvit 117 (Soi Phanuwongse) to Sukhumvit 119 (Soi Wat Trai Samakkhi) will be the tracks for future extension to Paknam.
The depot should on the vacant area next to Hitachi Transport System Co. Ltd.
Taksin extension will be 2 stations:
1) Charoen Nakhon - 500 meters from Charoen Nakhon Intersection
2) Krung Thonburi - 300-1300 meters from Charoen Nakhon Station
These two stations are not finalized yet.
BTSC will run the service as the way to extend the current services to get 100,000 more daily passengers. However, the discussion between BTSC and BMA about the service will be held after choosing the winner of the construction of the extensions.
The TOR for the Skytrain extension already fixes the winners and bars other competitors who can offer better prices by making the following conditions:
1) Having worked on the interchanges, bridge, concrete elevated ways longer than 35 meters
2) Having been awarded single contracts valued at more than 750 million baht or 1.1 billion baht for multiple contracts.
3) Having finished the work within 10 years
4) Having worked on Skytrain or Subway in Thailand at a price not less than 500 million baht or 750 million baht within a 10 year period.
Such TOR will allow only the 5-6 contractors including double giants ITD and Ch. Karnchang, STECON, Kamphaengphet Vivat and Chainant.
If this collusion goes according to the plan, ITD (previous projects: BTSC Skytrain and MRTA Subway) and Ch. Karnchang (previous projects: Expressways and MRTA Subway) will be clear winners and STECON could be a good contender due to having worked on the Phaseecharoen Elevated Way.
Note: If the Bangkok Ring Railway is to become a reality, the intermediate station between Poochao Saming Phrai Intersection and Thepharak Intersection must be constructed to function as an interchange between the BTSC Skytrain and Bangkok Ring Railway.

Tale of two newspapers: Skytrain extensions - July 18, 2003
Once again, regular readers will have read about it first. The Post today has a generalized article (or maybe 'polite' is a better word) that mentions the Skytrain extensions bid and a 'proposed detour' for the route (Contractors invited to extend routes, Bangkok Post, July 18, 2003). The real story (that we first ran on Wednesday) is that the controversial bid excludes all but two companies and the request for a detour is widely believed to be an attempt to protect vested interests in the shoddy bus services in Samut Prakan (Only two companies allowed to bid on Skytrain extensions - translated and summarized from Thairath Daily, July 16, 2003).
Also: After days of printing articles on how the
Laem Phak Bia Project (the 50km bridge over the Gulf of Thailand) would not hurt the environment and local people loved it (which was not what most sources were reporting), the Post today printed an unusually cheeky editorial on the project (Thaksin foments a battle all his own, Bangkok Post, July 18, 2003).

Calling a bid for Samrong and Taksin Skytrain extensions - translated and summarized from Dailynews, July 17 2003
BMA Traffic Bureau is going to invite contractors to submit a bid for the Samrong and Taksin extensions from July 18 to August 4, 2003. - The bidding process will be held on August 4, at 11:05 AM.
There will be three sections:
1) Samrong Extension - Bangkok Side (Onnut - Bearing) 5.25 km
2) Samrong Extension - Paknam Side (Bearing - Samrong) 3.65 km plus depot near Thepharak Intersection
Total budget for Samrong section is 12.35732 billion baht - for the elevated tracks, 6-7 stations, rail systems, land allocation and infrastructure removal.
3) Taksin Extension - Saphan Taksin - Taksin Intersection 2.2 km - the budget will be 2.66140 billion baht - for the construction of 2 stations and the rail systems - after Sinothai has modified the track to Phetkasem (so far it is 95% done). The Taksin extension will be ready for service on December 5, 2004.
For the case of the protest from the North Samrong Municipality, BMA Traffic Bureau Director said it is impossible to construct a detour to go along Sanphawut Road and then along Old Paknam Railway Road since Paknam Railway Road and Sanphawut Road are too narrow! Also there would be a need to expropriate land and make a new EIA. Furthermore, the track along Sanphawut and Olad Paknam Railway Road has too few passengers.
If North Samrong Municipal still opposes popular demand by not allowing BMA, the contractor can construct the Samrong extension along Sukhumvit Road and the second section of Samrong extension (Bearing - Samrong) will not be constructed. [We earlier ran a story that indicated that the request for a detour for the SKytrain route is widely believed to be an attempt to protect vested interests in the shoddy bus services in Samut Prakan (Only two companies allowed to bid on Skytrain extensions - translated and summarized from Thairath Daily, July 16, 2003).]
BMA also asks the government via Ministry of Interior to modify the terms from 100% private investment to 65% central and 35% local government - to be submitted to the cabinet in early August.
BTSC declines to invest on the construction since the company got burnt by USD $1.2 billion in debts. The company will only focus on service. Samrong and Taksin extension will increase daily passengers by 100,000 from the current 320,000 passengers per to 420,000 passengers a per day.
Even though the company has the right to raise the fee from the current 10 to 40 baht a trip to 10 to 50 baht a trip according to the contract, the company will initially not raise the fee to the highest level to prevent a drain of passengers. After all the extensions are done around 2007, BTSC will discuss with BMA about raising the fee to finance further extensions and pay off the debts.
Commentary: Even though the company has right to raise fees, they should also use the new routes as a way to deal with fees -> 10+3 baht/km is not a good deal at all! It should be this way:
Circa 2007
Zone 1 - 10 baht Mochit - Senaruam (Future Station)
Zone 2 - 15 baht Mochit - Sanam Pao
Zone 3 - 20 baht Mochit - Phaythai
Zone 4 - 25 baht Mochit - Siam
Zone 5 - 30 baht Mochit - National Stadium, Mochit - Ploenchit, Mochit - Saladaeng
Zone 6 - 35 baht Mochit - Asok, Mochit - Sueksa Witthaya (Future Station)
Zone 7 - 40 baht Mochit - Thong Lor, Mochit - Saphan Taksin
Zone 8 - 45 baht Mochit - Phra Khanong, Mochit - Taksin Intersection
Zone 9 - 50 baht Mochit - Bangchak and Beyond, and Mochit - Tha Phra and Beyond
If this version is too much for the passengers (those who travel very long routes will suffer because they would end up subsidizing those who take very short route), this version could be used:
Circa 2007
Zone 1 - 10 baht Mochit - Ari
Zone 2 - 15 baht Mochit - Phaythai
Zone 3 - 20 baht Mochit - National Stadium, Mochit - Chitlom, Mochit - Ratchadamri
Zone 4 - 25 baht Mochit - Asok, Mochit - Surasak
Zone 5 - 30 baht Mochit - Ekkamai, Mochit - Taksin Intersection
Zone 6 - 35 baht Mochit - Bangchak, Mochit - Thoedthai
Zone 7 - 40 baht Mochit - BITEC, Mochit - Phetkasem
Zone 8 - 45 baht Mochit - Samrong Tai
Zone 9 - (50 baht) will be reserved for the Paknam Extension, as well as Lam Look Extension and even Bangkok Ring Railway - if implemented. Using MRTA and Skytrain will be counted as going to the New Zone thus paying 5 baht more.
BTW, the maximum fee for the Taipei Mass Transit System is NT$ 65 (about 78 baht)! However, they have issued NT$ 150 daily pass (180 baht) for convenience.

Notes on the Skytrain extensions - July 17, 2003
We had quite a bit of email asking about the article we ran yesterday: Only two companies allowed to bid on Skytrain extensions. Wisarut answers some of the questions: 'Local criticism' to the Skytrain comes from local vested interests in Samut Prakarn who have concessions or other interests from the municipality to run the "tin cans with wheels" (shoddy private buses with drivers under influence of speed pills). They ask BTSC and BMA to reroute the track from Sukhumvit 107 (Soi Bearing - the Boundary Pole) to go along Sanphawut Road and then turn left to go along Old Paknam Railway Road until it reaches Samrong Tai as the way to protect their own vested interests.
However such action by the North Samrong Municipality has drawn heavy criticism from local people who have suffered from shoddy services of private buses. Look at the response to North Samrong Municipal here and ask Thai friends to translate the bad raps for you!
BTW: The first section of Samrong extension (Onnut - Bearing) will have to be constructed first due to strong demand from those who live in the Bang Na area and it is all in BMA jurisdiction, so there will be no construction problems.
The second section (Bearing - Samrong Tai) can be constructed later on after those who live in Samut Prakarn have voted to kick certain members out of the Paknam and North Samrong Municipal council.
For the case of Erawan Shrine, don't worry, the Skytrain will give a due respect to the shire and find a way to deal with the Skytrain extension once it reaches Sukhumvit 119 near Erawan Shrine

Only two companies allowed to bid on Skytrain extensions - translated and summarized from Thairath Daily, July 16, 2003
The sewage drains at Klong Saen Saeb have drawn heavy criticism of collusion and bid fixing. The bid calling for Skytrain extensions has also draw heavy criticism since the specifications only allow two construction giants (ITD and Ch. Karnchang) to participate in the deal.
1) ONLY companies registered as First Class Road Construction and First Class Building Construction for BMA
2) ONLY those who finished the elevated way as well as the bridges are allowed!
3) ONLY those who constructed the Skytrain and Subway would be eligible for Skytrain extensions!
4) Joint Ventures for those who want to qualify for the project will need to have the main company be 50% of the Joint Venture.
The Project will be as follows:
1) Onnut - Bearing - 5.25 km
2) Bearing - Samrong Tai plus the depot - 3.25 km (to prevent local criticism from vested interests claiming the project will ruin the environment despite the fact that the surrounding area is filled with factories)
3) Taksin Bridge - Taksin Road - 2.2 km
The Mayor who opposed the project got a flaming responses from Paknam People that they felt the mayor was associated with vested interests who are trampling on public opinion.

The Skytrain's ours, city insists - The Nation, Jun 2, 2003
He was responding to comments by Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit, who said the government would cut BTS fares by half. Suriya indicated that the central government might manage the project itself to get lower fares. Critics theorised that Thai Rak Thai might want to use the project as leverage to win support in the election for Bangkok governor next year.

Skytrain: Over 400,000 passengers on Valentine's Day
- May 23, 2003
Wisarut reports: Skytrain passengers peaked at 403,521 a day on Valentine's Day (February 14, 2003) probably due to couples dating and seeking "love nests" at the hotels around Silom and Sukhumvit.
In comparison, the Putra and Star mass transit systems in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia has already merged into a single company with a monthly pass for the combined system that costs 125 Ringgit. A monthly pass for either Star or Putra is 70 Ringgit. Average daily passengers for Putra is 160,000 passenger a day and the average for Star is about 100,000 passengers a day. Putra is peaking at 180,000 passengers a day while Star is peaking at 125,000 passengers a a day.

Taksin extension: 70% done & ready for service on December 5, 2004
- translated and summarized by Wisarut, Dailynews, February 28, 2003
Taksin extension is 70% done. It will be ready to be opened on December 5, 2004. There will be bidding for contractor to deal with Samrong extension by the end of 2003. BMA is also going to call a new bid for the contractor to handle the construction of stations along Taksin extension. The structure for the extension would be the same structure as the initial project to speed up implementation. Samrong extension is still calling a new bid. If BMA picks a winner, the contract would be signed on September 2003--so as to implement the system--to be done and open for service by December 2006.
For the number of Skytrain passengers, it is now 93.5 million trip-persons for 2002, a 20% increase from 74 million trip-persons in 2001. The number of passenger is increasing on weekdays and even more on holidays. There will be now be announcements if technical glitches delay trains. The BMA is also working hard to catch illegal hawkers in the National Stadium Station and Victory Monument Station.

Skytrain extension plans moving ahead
- translated and summarized from Thairath and Dailynews, February 25, 2003
Director Khamrobrak Suratsawadee (Director of BMA Traffic and Transportation Bureau) told the press that the central government has granted 7 billion baht to cover 60% of the budget for both Skytrain extensions. However, the central government budget has a sring attached that BMA is obligated to construct Southern Bangkok Transporation Center
(Taksin Center), and set up a joint ticketing system with the subway, expressway,
Mahachai Railway, and other modes of transporation. BMA is proposing a revision on the investment plan for Skytrain extensions.
BMA Traffic and Transportation Bureau is propositng to extend the northern route from Mochit to Saphan Mai (Ying Charoen flee market - 16 km) since the extension to Ratchayothin is not adequate enough to cover very dense areas and to meet the local demand.
The Kaset intersection will have a new tunnel for cars from Ngam Wongwan to Nawamin Road as a temporary measure to deal with traffic congestion at Kaset Intersection. Senanikhom Flyover must be torn down to make a way for the Skytrain extension. After opening the Northern extension, BMA might reassemble the flyover. Further detais will come up during the meeting with Traffic Committtee in the next two weeks.
Commentary: If BMA is obligated to construct a Southern Bangkok Transportation Center, Taksin Extension must be extended to Bang Wah which will become an interchange with the Subway so that the rolling stock of Subway and Skytrain can be used on both tracks. BMA needs to boost revenue from local taxes and issue more municiple bonds to cover expenses on the Skytrain extensions and Southern Bangkok Transportation Center.
More Commentary:
An extension to Saphan Mai is not a bad idea at all. However, BMA must be an underwriter for BTSC so that German creditors would be glad to grant more loans to BTSC. Othewise, they could apply hostile takeover as the last measure for the prolonging debt problems.
Update on Skytrain extensions! - translated and summarized from Prachachart Thhurakij - Jan 27-29, 2003
BMA is hiring Utility Design Consultant Co. Ltd to work as a consultant to handle the preliminary design and drafting the bidding documents for two Skytrain extensions.
1) Taksin Extension - 2.2km, 2 stations 1.1 billion baht
2) Samrong Extension - 8.9 km, 8 stations, 8.4 billion baht (only 6 will be actually implemented while leaving the other 2 as future stations).
From 9.5 billion baht budget -> 6.5 billion baht is from the central government and the other 3.0 billion baht is from BMA revenue. If everything goes according to the plan, the contract signing will be in October 2003 so that the Taksin extension will be opened for
service in August 2004 and the Samrong extension will be constructed in December 2003 and open for service in August 2006.
BMA is planning to purchase 15-30 rai of land along Bang Na- Bang Pakong Highway (between BITEC and the Outer Ring Road) to set up a new Park and Ride Facility as a part of new extension, with a budget of 500 million baht.
BMA officers are working on feasibility studies for other new extensions for the Skytrain:
Phase 2 - Paholyothin Extension -> Mochit - Kasetsart University - 4 km
[Note: This is a slightly extended line based on a 1995 proposal to relieve congestion in the Kaset area and meet local demands. However, the demolition of the flyover is a must.]
Phase 3
A) Paknam Extension -> from Samrong Tai to Downtown Samut Prakarn (Paknam) - 7.9 km
[Note: This follows both Sukhumvit Road and the old Paknam Railway - passing the Naval Academy. It will need special rails to withstand the salty atmosphere since Paknam is very close to the mouth of the Chaophraya River.]
B) Phaholyothin Extension -> Kasetsart University - Donmuang - 6.7 km
[Note: This is for those who live in Bang Khen, Saphan Mai, and RTAF area.]
C) Pin Klao Extension -> National Stadium - Pin Klao Bridge - 4.6 km
[Note: This line will pass into Rattanakosin Island (BKK City Center), therefore, BMA may have to consider hiring MRTA to drill double tunnels from Yot Se (Saphan Kasatsuek) to Pin Klao. An attempt to construct the Skytrain along Mahanak Canal may cause serious offense to the Muslim community who have lived there for 200 years. [Thai infrastructure projects often inexplicably are routed through sensitive Muslim areas.] Attempts to run the Skytrain on Rattanakosin island above ground without design considerations might clash with old buildings.]
D) Phase 4 - Phaholyothin Extension - Donmuang - Lam Lookka - 14 km
[Note: This is for those who live in the northern Bangkok suburbs. However, this extension may be frozen or readjusted to fit the demands of those who live in Si Mum Mueang - Rangsit area since their demands are much higher due to the fact that Rangsit is considered a Northern Terminal for most BMTA buses.]
[More notes: Those who live along Lad Phrao road (up to Bang Kapi) said they want BMA to extend the Skytrain to their area since the traffic around Bang Kapi intersection is worsening due to lots of traffic magnets (The Mall, Carrefour, Happyland market). However it will be a very long time before this implementation of the BTS "Yellow Line." The Yellow Line should probably be started from Mochit 2 (New Bangkok Bus terminal) instead of Ratchada-Lad Phrao intersection and then go along Ratchadaphisek before turning left to Lad Phrao so that it will make life much more convenient from those who want to go out of Bangkok during long weekends and for those rural people who what to find new jobs in town.]

Extended route to Taksin road ready by mid-2004
- Bangkok Post, Janaury 21, 2003
The 2.2km extension of the skytrain route from Sathon to Taksin road is expected to be completed next year, while bidding for the Onnuch-Samrong route will start soon. Jim Panthumkomol, head of the city's traffic and transport department, said construction of the skytrain route linking Sathon with Taksin was 75% complete and expected to be finished next year. Meanwhile, documents were being prepared for bidding for construction of the 8.9km extension from Onnuch station to Samrong (Soi Sukhumvit 119). The contractor would be picked later this year. The route could be completed around mid-2006, Mr Jim said. Operating the line depends on cabinet approval of new financing rules for the Skytrain.

BMA approves 9.5 billion baht for Skytrain extensions - Funding plans still waiting for cabinet approval
- translated and summarized from Dailynews, January 2, 2003
The Samrong and Taksin Skytrain extensions will receive 9.5 billion baht for civil work from the BMA Budget Bureau. However, they will receive the first 1.5 billion baht in 2003 and the rest will follow in the next few years. BMA is waiting for cabinet approval to change the investment ratio to allow BMA investment on Skytrain extension. If approved, BMA will call a new bid immediately.
BMA Traffic Bureau Director Jim Phanthummakomol said that BMA has been waiting since October, 2002 for cabinet approval on the change of investment from 100% private investment to a public-private investment (the central government 65% and BMA 35%) for the Taksin and Samrong Skytrain extensions. For the Ratchayothin extension, BMA will submit a plan later.
If the cabinet approves the investment plan, BMA will call a new bid for civil works on both extensions immediately. At the same time, BMA will call private firms to bid on rail, signals, and rolling stock. The BMA Budget Bureau has approved 9.5 billion baht for investment on civil work for both extensions--1.5 billion baht in budget year 2003--750 million from central government and the rest from BMA.
For bidding, BMA has to wait from the cabinet to set up a committee to deal with the bid since the investment conditions have changed. If BTSC is chosen to run the extension using old cars and investing partially on signal and systems, BTSC will must pay BMA more dividend since the BMA and central government have enabled the company to gain more passengers by investing on the civil works [i.e. they paid for the structure--this bidding scenario raises the bizarre, but unlikely possibility that another company, other than the one that presently runs the Skytrain, could be chosen to operate the extensions]. By the end of 2003, the cabinet should approve the new investment plan and thus BMA will be able to call a new bid on civil work. [This has been going on for some time. See Political vendettas doom Skytrain extensions, Matichon, September 17, 2002]
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