Cell phone blindspots in
the subway - April 14, 2004
Wisarut reports: For telecom blindspots, Thai netters have
responded that even subways in other countries are mobile
phone blind spots. The Tokyo Subway also prohibits passengers
from making a call on the train since it annoys other passengers.
Earlier: Cell phone service in subway not complete - translated
and summarized from Siam Turakij,
April 9-16, 2004
Even the test run is closer and closer, BMCL and telecom companies
cannot make a settlement on the telecom cells for mobile phones.
This will create mobile phone blindspots. It could be very dangerous
if crime, arson, or terrorism breaks out. However, BMCL said TOT
and TRUE (the new name of Telecom Asia) have installed the telecom
cells for public phones and PCTs.
Subway - Ride
it now or wait four months for full service -
translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Matichon
Daily, April 14, 2004
governor explains subway 'free rides' to the public
- translated and summarized from Manager
Daily, April 14, 2004
[Outside of well-connected diplomats, it appears that tickets
were only sent to Thai people (not foreigners).]
On Songkran day of this year, Grandpa Lek and Granma Phutsa felt
very excited that the Subway has become a reality and they want
to make a free ride. They woke their children up at 5am so that
they can go to Hua Lamphong station early since Granpa Lek lives
in Salaya (Bangkok western suburb in Nakhon Pathom - where the
main campus of Mahidol U. is situated) and Granma Phutsa lives
in Samreh (a community on the Thonburi side of Bangkok - used
to be a place for beheading the condemned).
However, they got stopped by MRTA and BMCL officers at Hua Lamphong
station and were told that "Sorry Granpa and Granma, you
don't have the permission cards, so you cannot enter into the
Even though both old folks tried to appeal to the officers, the
officer explained that they cannot let both old persons enter
the train since it could create chaos at all 18 subway stations
if they allow unlimited free rides during a limited time. Therefore,
permission tickets are necessary and BMCL has asked people to
send letters to BMCL to obtain 60,000 permission cards (actually,
BMCL officers have to give 84,000 tickets due to strong demands
from 42,000 letters).
Therefore, they have to accept the missed opportunities due to
security restrictions. Nevertheless, Granma Putsa told MRTA-BMCL
officers with a grumbling voice that "you should work on
PR much harder! We just received the news that BMCL is going to
open the Subway for a test run but we have not received another
message that we need to send letters for permission tickets. If
we knew this beforehand, we would have asked our children to write
and send the letter to get the tickets." They also said they
will be back when the full service becomes a reality.
However, lucky ones like Ms. Rewadee Mutalai and her daughter
(Sitala Mutalai) waited for a while until it reached 10am (the
opening time) to enter into the system.
Ms. Rewadee said she got the ticket from the Highway Dept which
had requested BMCL to issue free tickets for officers. The ticket
said "BMCL has guaranteed that Khun .... is a Thai person
who has a chance to ride the first Subway line before other people!
April 13, 2004."
Ms. Rewadee said she felt very glad to have subway line to tackle
traffic jams along with the Skytrain.
When the first set of passengers entered the subway system, many
of them felt very happy and excited since many have had no change
to ride a subway before.
The air-conditioning in the subway set is so high that it creates
moisture on the mirrors and windows. There were two officers in
"Sathanee Tor Pai Chatuchak, Than Phoodoysarn Samart Plian
Setthang Lae Tor BTS at this Station" (Next Station Chatuchak,
the passengers can change the train to Skytrain at this station).
The announcements the stations is in Thai first and then in English.
Many praised that the announcers speak very well in both English
and Thai--so well that they feel they live abroad.
Even though the government wishes to speed up the official opening
date, the most auspicious date of all would be August 12, 2004.
Commentary by Wisarut: The MRTA subway uses a recorded
announcement--a better approach than humans speaking by the drivers
in the Skytrain do. Escalators in both directions and elevators
for the handicapped are also a big plus for the subway.
This automatic announcement machine as well as the availability
of escalators and elevators will force BTSC to modernize their
fleet of rolling stock as well as the stations since many passengers--
local people and foreigners--have complained a lot about the poor
[Many common folk are annoyed that 'free rides' really means rides
for elites with tickets.]
After hearing the appeal for free rides from many people who missed
a chance to make a free ride due to the lack of permission tickets,
MRTA governor explained that this measure will minimize a chance
for chaos to break out as well as to cut down congestion.
Tickets for free rides in May have been increased from 140,000 tickets
to 160,000 tickets to cope with surging demand even though Mr Suriya
asks MRTA to allow anybody to take a free ride in May 2004.
Subway System Inspection
- translated and summarized from Manager
Daily, April 13, 2004
The air-conditioning inside subway stations will have the thermostat
fixed at 27 Celcius--higher than the 25 Celsius level for department
stores since MRTA do not want passengers to hang around the stations--just
comfortable enough, but not too comfortable.
The escalators will have to run faster to move many people as possible
and for evacuation.
The Skytrain had run empty trains for eight months to check that
the system had no problems despite grumbling passengers who wanted
to ride the system. However, the Subway system is a much more complicated
system--rolling stocks, power supply, air-conditioning, ventilators,
fire alarm and extinguishers, elevators, gates. All must work at
in a synchronized matter and thus the testing will be much more
The government has invested billions of baht to come up with this
system along with a 9 floor Park and Ride at Ladphrao, 3 floor Park
and Ride at the Thai Cultural Center, and a small parking lot at
Ratchadaphisek, Huay Kwang, Phetburi, Sukhumvit and Sam Yan - with
free parking during the April test run. Security forces have been
set up at all 18 stations since April 6.
There are 3 interchanges with the Skytrain and BMTA has readjusted
both bus stops to stop near the subway gates and 24 air-conditioned
bus routes to feed the system. If Airport Link and North-South commuters
have become a reality to replace Hopewell, there will be new interchanges
at Phetburi, Hua Lamphong and Bangsue.
Test runs without passengers from 4am to 7pm have been underway
since March 1, 2004, and extended to 9pm since April 1, and further
extended to midnight since April 5.
There are 4 sets of BMCL officers
(1) Drivers and Station Controllers
(2) Maintenance Officers
(3) Supporters to control the tickets and revenue from tickers
(4) Security offices and quality controllers
The drivers must pass through vigorous testing since they have to
go through dark tunnels with lots of mental pressure. Those who
run the station controllers will need to be service oriented. They
must have at least a 2-year college degree. Most applicants (52,300
candidates) have 4-year college degree or higher.
Only 7000 candidates passed the writing exam.
Only 4000 pass the interview exam.
Only 3000 candidates passed the Color Blind Testing.
Only 900 candidates passed criminal record examination to face psychological
The drivers cannot turn on lights while driving since it will blind
their vision. Thus they have to sit down in a dark control room.
They need to detect every signal they pass along the way. They have
to work hours a day.
Some of them have to wake up at 2am or 2:30am to be ready for the
first train will at 4:30am so that they can get it to the track
at 5am. After finished the first round, the driver must come to
relax immediately before coming to other shifts (3-hour working
intervals) to fill up 8 hour working hours.
There are 90 drivers (controllers) with 10 driving trainers. All
the drivers must pass through 4 1/2 month testing. There are 600
station controllers which need to pass through 3 1/2 months and
then they will be allocated following slots:
There are 50 officers at the Control Center.
Each station will have 5-10 officers.
The rush hour interval of trains will be 3 minutes, 45 seconds.
Even when the system is ready, they need to pass independent engineering
inspections to ensure safety.
and press ride the subway--Lots of development planned around
the stations - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, April 13, 2004
and Thairath, April 13, 2004
Minister Suriya and his family, the Ambassador of Japan and family,
the Ambassador of Germany and family, the Ambassador of Austria
and family, members of MRTA Board and their families, members
of the BMCL Board of Directors, TV, radio, and newspaper journalists
- both local and abroad, as well as invited guests who receive
free tickers have made the first ride of the subway from Thai
Cultural Center Station to Hua Lamphong.
MRTA Governor Praphat told the press that he feels very satisfied
with the first test run even though he found that some of the
rolling stock have defective air-conditioning systems and the
doors cannot be closed which prevents the subway from departing
the station. However, he asks those technicians from Siemens and
MRTA to repair the defective parts to be ready for free ride tomorrow.
Furthermore, the MRTA and BMCL security guards have been trained
for the security, evacuation, rescue, basic first aid, basic fire
extinguishing, hand to hand combat, combat with weapons, and the
way to search for weapons.
Metro Mall is going to open the first 5 branches at Sukhumvit,
Chatuchak, Kamphangphet, Phaholyothin, and Thai Cultural Center
stations and 6 more branches will follow. The area over the station
at Chatuchak and Kamphaengphet are going to have commercial development
with additional development at Queen Sirikit (near Phai Singto
neighborhood), Lad Phrao and Ratchadaphisek.
The existing malls along the subway route will have major facelifts.
Brew Pavilion is jumping into the retailing business by developing
the Pavilion Bangkok shopping mall for new generation and entertainment
complex with existing German beerhouse. Union Mall at Phaholyothin
neat Ladphrao Intersection will have a supermarket, banks, major
shops, food center, and entertainment center (Cinema, Bowling,
Karaoke) with a park and ride for 3000 cars. Central Patthana
is going to come up with Rama 9 Square opposite Fortune Town.
Even Dusit Thani Hotel is going to turn some part of their hotel
into an office building, shopping center and plaza and now the
real estate firms have come up with condominiums within 500 m
radius of stations.
How to be a subway driver
- translated and summarized from Manager
Daily, April 12, 2004
Even though subway cars can run with automatic controls, the drivers
are still necessary. However, it is very tough to be qualified
for the Subway Driver since all of the eligible candidates must
be good at math, English, general knowledge, and good service.
The committee for testing the candidates come from the physicians
as well as specialists.
Those who pass the knowledge testing must have strong physical
and mental health. This has already disqualified many candidates--only
a few survive to have an interview with the committee to examine
internal thought. Only those who have good characteristics, are
reasonable, and have good concentration can pass.
Even those who pass the examination will have to go through the
orientation to know the culture of organization, policy, and goals--along
with physical testing held by BMCL and Siemens (Thailand) at Chulachomklao
Royal Military Academy to build discipline.
After the orientation, they have to learn subway procedures and
training in a simulation. They have to be able to do more than
push buttons to open the screen door and start the train--they
have to deal the first aid and other emergencies such as floods,
arson, blackouts, bag snatchers, and even espionage.
Qualified people must be calm in dangerous situations so that
they can solve the problems without causing another problem. If
they flunk the test, they have to make another test to pass the
Even those who held a master degree in Business Administration
and worked as an instructor at the university must work hard to
become a subway driver. He has to drive the subway to get it cleaned
at the depot and calculate speed to be able to decelerate at the
It would be a very good thing to have a nationwide mental examination
of drivers of buses, trucks, trains, and even motorcycles at the
same level as subway drivers. We feel very sure that many of them
need to see psychiatrists or even some of them need to have some
mental relaxation at asylums or in meditation schools.
If the subway system has been expanded it would solve the traffic
problems--a very worthy investment even though massive investment
is required. Look at BTSC Skytrain as a good example.
After a 5 month examination, 90 male and female qualified subway
drivers will go through the driving the actual trains without
They work 8 hours a day - with 2 intervals, 4 hours for each interval.
They will have to line up for inspection from the head of the
subway driver division every day. Those who suffer insomnia or
get sick will get the day off to get some rest. They will take
pride as those who run the subway system in Thailand.
Disappointment and praise for
the subway - translated and summarized from Manager Daily (1,
April 13, 2004
Many who wanted to have a free ride but do not have tickets feel
very disappointed since they thought that Premier Thaksin told
them that they can have a free ride without mentioning they need
to have a ticket.
Therefore, Minister Suriya is asking BMCL that they should allow
another free ride for anyone--not just those who live along the
tracks--in May 2004 so as to educate the new passengers of the
subway system. The full service must also be ready in June or
Mr. Pliew said BMCL have given 60,000 free tickets to passengers
and kept the other 240,000 tickets for May free rides by giving
them out at department stores along subway lines. However they
may revise the plan after the assessment of the April free ride.
However, after checking the letters to BMCL, they found that there
are 42,000 letters -> thus there will be 84,000 free riders
in April alone. They may even print more tickets for the May free
ride to accommodate millions of Bangkokians who want a free ride.
Bangkokians have made the following praises of Subway system:
Satanan Junegrungriengkij (7 years old) - a child of Minister
Suriya said he is very excited and very fast so no need to bother
with traffic jam. He wants to take another ride if he has a chance.
Kittphongse Tatiyarattna (39 years old) - officer at private firm
said he is very satisfied with the system and it is very comfortable,
but he needs to study the route since he lives in Donmuang and
works in Sukhumvit. So he will use the park and ride and then
ride the subway to go to his office around Asok. The subway is
safe thus he can go to work downtown without problem.
Mr Thanaphong (24 year years old) - a college student said it
is fast and safe - even safer than Skytrain which looks like airplane.
Subway is safer in his viewpoint.
Boontham Pornpradit (73 years old) said she likes subway. It is
very fast and very safe. She will use it since she travels around
Bangkok to see her children and grandchildren along the route.
She will definitely ride it instead of private cars and a senior
discount applies to her.
Monruedee Ketuuphan (47 years old)- deputy Director of PR Dept,
AOT PCL said she feels very satisfied with the test run. She also
asked that the security is tightened up when it is fully functional
so that she can ride the system during the holiday.