Master Plan News 2001

MASTER PLAN NEWS 2001

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


Four Ring Railway routes
Must be approved by the end of March 2002
Dailynews, December 24, 2001

JBIC has unveiled four surveyed ring routes and is waiting for the decision from Governor Samak to make the best choice. JBIC has imposed the condition to BMA that the Thaksin cabinet must approve the project by the end of March 2002. Otherwise, BMA will need to wait for another year to get the loan.

Amorn Kitchawengkul (Director of Krunthepthanakhom Co.Ltd.) said that JBIC has finished the preliminary survey of the track. There will be another study on the construction engineer in detail. There are four proposed ring routes which can be shown as follows:

1) 80-km ring from Poochao Samingphrai Road (at the pier opposite to the downtown Phrapradaeng) to Thepharak Road up to Narm Daeng (red thorn) intersection. After that, turn left to go along Srinakharin Road to Bang Kapi and then turn right at Happyland Intersection and then turn left at Bangkapi intersection to go along Nawamin Road up to Kaset-Nawamin intersection. After that, turn left to go along Kaset Nawamin road, Ngamwongwan Road, and Rattanathibet road to Phranangklao Bridge. After that, the line goes along Rattanathibet Road to Bang Yai intersection and then goes along Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road and then turns left at Rama II Highway and then turns right to Phrapadaeng Road and then go along Nakhon Khueankhan Road to end up at Phrapadaeng pier. The bridge across Chao Phraya at Phrapadaeng will be very costly if not prohibitively so.

2) 100-km ring is almost the same at the first ring, except that it goes along Industrial Ring Road via Bang Krajao (a green island surrounded by Chaophraya) and another shortcut canal in addition to the Lad Luang shortcut canal. The industrial ring road is a project handled by the Public Works Dept. (will become a separate ministry in October 2002) which have a Y-shape bridge linking Rama III Road, Suksawat road and Rotfai Sai Kao road. The line will end up at Bang Na Intersection.

3) 120-km Ring: There are two versions of this 120-km ring:

3.1) It will be look like JR Yamanote Ring Railroad of Inner Tokyo - from Poochao Samingphrai road to Samrong Tai via Suhumvit Road, and then go to Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road to Suvannabhum Airport (near the terminal for VIP guests and the Royal Family) and then turn left at Kingkaeo Road to Rom Klao Road to Minburi and then go along Serithai Road to Bangkapi Intersection and then go into the same way as 80-km ring.

3.2) It will go into very similar to the first version. However, it would go further North from Minburi to Lam Lookka and then goes along the road to Khookhot before going to Rangsit and then go further to Pathumthanee and then Bangbuathong. After that, it would go along the western section of Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road, Rama II Highway, and follow the same track as the 80-km ring to Phra Padaeng.

Governor Samak has the right to select the line he considers as the best ring to be constructed. JBIC has imposed the condition that the Governor has to deliver the project proposal wrapped within the Economic and Urban Development plan to NESDB and Ministry of Finance so that the project will be approved without delay. After the study of the commuter ring project is done, the project must be approved by the cabinet and delivered to JBIC by the end of March 2002. If the project study is not done on time, BMA must find the new financial source to back up the project or BMA will (likely) need to extend the project study for another year and wait for new loan from JBIC.

Commentary by Wisarut: There must be some serious discussions between OCMLT and BMA about whether which ring would be the best for Bangkokians before getting approval from NESDB, the Ministry of Finance, and the cabinet.

For the road to go along Kaset-Nawamin road, BMA should talk with the Expressway Authority to see if ETA would be allowed to construct a skytrain parallel to the proposed expressway. If ETA is really desperate for money, ETA should allow the land lease paid by BMA to construct a skytrain along the way.

Kaset can become an interchange station if Lamlookka line and the ring that goes along Kaset-Nawamin road becomes a reality. However, Lamlookka Extension should be done first... at least to make life easier for those who live in Northern Bangkok along Phaholyothin Road.

For the case of Rattanathibet, MRTA should let BMA handle this section if MRTA is no longer interested in making a northern extension of the Blue line from Wong Sawang to Phranangklao Bridge (MRTA would prefer the inner ring line instead).

For the section from Bangkhunthian to Phrapadaeng intersection, it may require expropriation of orchards in the Bangmod area to construct the line unless BMA decides to go along Rama II Highway and Suksawat Road.

For the case of going along the Industrial Ring Road, BMA should wait until the Industrial Ring Bridge becomes a reality so as to construct a skytrain along the line.

SRT Planning to Construct Rail Link to Suvannabhum Airport
Thaipost, December 11, 2001

SRT is talking with the consultant company about the plan to construct a 20-km rail link from Phayathai Station to Suvannabhum Airport by using the abandoned structure of Hopewell and planning to transform Makkasan Railway Station into a luxurious City Terminal. SRT is bating for the estimated budget calculated by the company. So far, SRT are asking for 5.8 billion baht for a double track project from Chachoengsao to Sri Racha so as to handle the cargo from Laem Chabang.

SRT Director (Mr. Sarawut Thammasiri) said that SRT has discussed with Pacific Consultant about studies on the rail link project to Suvannabhum Airport -> the construction details, the investment plans, and the creditors before submitting to SRT Board of Directors. SRT gives the principle that the elevated rail link must be done and ready to open and feed Suvannabhum Airport in December 2004.

The elevated railway track will go from Phyathai Station (Skytrain), Makkasan, Hua Mark, and end up at Suvannabhum Airport. Everything must be done by the end of the 1st quarter of 2002 (before April 1, 2002). If the cabinet approves the project, the construction will be started in early 2003.

SRT Director also said that SRT will have to upgrade Makkasan Railway Station into an interchange station with Skytrain (from Phyathai Station) and Subway (from Phetburi Station). Financial resource may come from a loan or a private joint venture.

Commentary by Wisarut: For the case of Northern section (Domuang - Bangsue), it is in the stage of selecting the consultant company to draft TOR for those who want to invest. The government has a policy to construct this section as soon as possible to ease traffic woes.

SRT also asked the government to approve the 60-km double tracking project from Chachoengsao to Sri Rachawith the an investment of 5.8 billion baht. The reason for such a huge investment is that SRT needs to plant support pillars all the way from Chachoengsao to Sri Racha due to the fact that the land is a soft clay and may not provide a strong foundation.

The double tracking project also has some benefit that it will carry cargo to/from Laem Chabgang and support the expansion of Laem Chabang Deep Sea Port.

For the case of Suvannabhum Airport, the Highway Dept. is dealing with five connecting roads to the airport, CAT is handling the Airmail building, the Meteorology Department is handling the weather section, MEA is dealing with high power lines to the airport substation, Bangkok Aeroradio Co. Ltd. is handling the air traffic controller tower and so on.

Samak's Commuter Ring Project Delayed
Japanese Government Said Approvals from NESDB and OCMLT Needed
Dailynews, December 13, 2001

Governor Samak's Commuter Ring Project is to be delayed at least for a few years since the Japanese Government said such a project must be approved by NESDB and OCMLT first.

Governor Samak Sunthoravej said that initially he asked CREC (China Railway Co.Ltd. - Headquarters at Shanghai) to study the Bangkok Commuter Ring Railway. However, Chinese government refused to fund the project study. Nevertheless, the Japanese government came to fill the vacuum with a soft loan. Now, it is under study and BMA is negotiating with the Japanese government over details of the investment conditions. So far the Japanese government said such a project must be approved by OCMLT and NESDB first before making further studies.

Governor Samak said such a restriction has slowed the project at least for a few years to ensure that OCMLT and NESDB would approve it. Nevertheless, he will push this project anyway by speeding up negotiation with the Japanese government. Such a project is necessary for accommodating Bangkok Mass Transit System. There would be 3 concentric ring railways with distances of 80 km, 120 km and 140 km. The innermost ring is for convenience in urban transportation. The other two outer rings are for city expansion. The major routes within the commuter ring are:

1) Wongwian Yai - Samutsakorn
2) Samrong - Samutprakarn
3) Rangsit - Lamlookka.

Commentary by Wisarut: OCMLT has already had the ring railway project in their plans (to be handled by MRTA). MRTA would readjust the blue line subway into the ring subway. For the time being, one ring mass transit system would be enough...

SRT Plans to decommission Hualamphong by developing Bangsue to handle all north-northeastern lines
Dailynews, Thaipost Daily, Matichon Daily, Manager Daily, September 28, 2001

Premier Thaksin told the press after the SRT Workshop on Sept. 27, 2001 that he ordered SRT officers to review SRT projects within a week. Thaksin ordered SRT to develop Bangsue Junction into a new railway center to handle the railway traffic from the Northern and the Southern lines. The government has no money for SRT to burn for the Hopewell revival or other SRT projects. Therefore, Thaksin ordered SRT to demolish the pillars on the Northern route so as to lay a new double tracks from Bangsue to Donmuang since it will cost the government only 7-8 billion baht. The Eastern route will not be spared either since the Premier said expanding the Eastern railway from a double track to two double tracks from Bangsue to Hua Mark will cost the government no more than 1 billion baht while reviving the Hopewell project for the Eastern section would cost the government 38 billion baht.

The Premier also ordered SRT to cut the railway link to Suvannabhum Airport from 28 billion baht to 15 billion baht and said SRT should construct or expand only profit-making lines while dealing with other projects (e.g. nationwide double tracking) at the bare minimum.

For SRT's accumulated loss of 43 billion baht, it is a public debt and the government has to bail SRT out of trouble. However, Thaksin asked SRT to reveal more details about how much SRT is going to ask from the government, and how much fares will be hiked. If the fare rate hike for covering the operation loss is acceptable for the people, there will be no need for government subsidy. Otherwise, the government will need to subsidize the fair rate. For the SRT privatization, SRT will be either a company or a state enterprise with the aim to become a business unit that makes profit. Thaksin said if the operating cost for 3rd class rail is 40 satang/km/passenger, people will accept the maximum rate hike at 35 satang/km/passenger, and the government will cover the rest.

Premier Thaksin told Mr. Weera Muskaphongse (Director of SRt Board) that it is unsuitable to invest in the Hopewell revival during the economic downturn. Mr. Weera responded to the Premier's decision that SRT could accept the plan to develop Bangsue Junction to become a new SRT center to handle Northern and Southern lines since SRT has already had a masterplan on Bangsue development. Bangsue development will take the load off Hualamphong by handling 105 trains a day while Hualamphong will handle only 40 trains a day. Furthermore, the Bangsue Development along with the new construction of railway tracks from 3 tracks to 21 tracks at Bangsue Junction will cost SRT about 1.5 billion baht. On the other hand, the Hopewell revival from Bangsue to Donmuang would require 6.8 billion baht. Therefore, the demolition of Hopewell pillars and two sets of double tracks will become substitutes.

Concerning the rail link from Makkasan to Suvannabhum Airport, the project will be temporarily suspended since the Bangna-Chonburi Expressway and Motorway are going to link with the Airport Motorway in the North, and the expressway to the South. There are already two roads linking Suvannabhum Airport with the major road--at the 15th km of Bangna-Bang Pakong Highway and a lane of Lad Krabang Road near KMITL. SRT will discuss with the SRT Board about the project suspension so as to reach a conclusion within 15 days. After that, SRT will submit the conclusion to Minister Wan Nor (Wan Muhammad Nor matha) before proposing it to the Premier. So far, SRT is going to revise the Eastern route to fit into 15 billion baht budget as follows:

1) Elevated tracks from Phyathai to Makkasan
2) Ground tracks from Asok to Hua Mark and Hua Mark to Lad Krabang
3) Underground tracks from Lad Krabang to Suvannabhum Airport

SRT is going to submit the details of SRT operating costs to the Premier so that he will approve SRT to raise the fair rates to cover real operating costs. So far, SRT has an operating cost of 82 satang/Km/passenger (for 3rd class railway) while SRT collects an average fare rate of 24 satang/km/passenger. Therefore, SRT will ask the government to shoulder the cost of the basic infrastructure so as to cut the operating cost to 50 satang/Km/passenger. SRT will need to spend three months before coming up with a conclusion for the SRT plan for subsidies. The preliminary discussion within the SRT Board will be finished within two weeks.

Samak's First Year
August 1, 2001- The Bangkok Post has an online summation of Bangkok Governor Samak's first year in office. It shows the status of many local projects including the defunct art museum.

Governor Samak feels confident that the Suburb Ring Railroad will be approved
Matichon Daily - July 18, 2001

Governor Samak Sunthoravej comments on the progress of the 60-km Bangkok Suburb Ring Railway and says that China Railway from Mainland China has made feasible study on the project and insists that BMA could start the project immediately if they only had the means to do so. There would be no environmental effects. The price tag of the project is US$ 2.4 billion (108 billion baht at the current 45 baht/US$). It would take 4-6 years to complete the ring and 17 years to break even.

BMA will not spend the annual budget on the Bangkok Ring Railway Project, but they will ask the private sector to handle the project. So far, Japanese financial institutes (e.g. JBIC) said that they would grant a loan for this project with 0.75% annual interest rate for 30 years, and a grace period for the first 10-years. However, JBIC said BMA must let Japanese contractors win the bid to obtain such a good deal.

Governor Samak said such conditions are legal and cause no detrimental effects on the BMA. BMA will definitely handle this project and he would deliver the proposal to Premier Thaksin and the relating offices (e.g. OCMLT, SRT, BTSC, MRTA, BMTA, EPA and so on).

However, Mr. Raphee Lappratthana (Bangkok City Assembly member from Bangrak district and the head of BMA Civil Works and Utility Committee) said BMA should make an open and competing bid, not just allow the Japanese contractors alone to handle the project since it violates the principles of free competition. Furthermore, no part of the private sector would invest such an enormous amount on such a project during these economic hard times. Even though BMA will not spend its budget on the project, Governor Samak must consult with Bangkok City Assembly first before making any further progress.

Samak's Broke and Needs the Private Sector to Help Him with Bangkok Development
Japanese Keen on the Bangkok Ring Railroad
Krungthep Thurakij - July, 14, 2001

Governor Samak said he will emphasize continuing projects which can get the money back such as the BTSC Skytrain. Even though he initially did not like the Skytrain, he has a full commitment to support the project to go forward since the private sector has to carry the heavy financial loss. Without the continuing support, the project will collapse. Therefore, the three Skytrain extensions are the "boosters" - Taksin-Ekkachai, Onnut-Bang Plee, Chong Nonsee-Rama III. However, BTSC must implement the Taksin and Samrong extensions first - with a total distance of 11 km.

Furthermore, Governor Samak would like to realize the Bangkok Ring Railway project with a distance of 60 km (3 extensions not included). The China Railway Co. Ltd. has finished the feasibility study and told the Governor that it is feasible to construct Bangkok Ring Railway which will take 4-6 years to finish. If BMA decides to get the loan and equipment from European source, US$3 billion budget is a must and it will take 7 years to break even. However, Japanese companies have strong interest in handling to projects.

Governor Samak also has strong interest to develop another Chatuchak Weekend market, with full-circuit trading, such as the products from 76 provinces (possible from 7,000 Tambons), food land, and parking lots with trees around the markets. Even though MRTA has declined to to let BMA lease 153 rai of MRTA land, BMA has to receive substitute land of 137 rai at Kaset-Nawamin Road.

For the corn cob apartments, the mock-up room is done and ready to open for public inspection on July 28, 2001. So far, some people have suggested leasing land behind the Agricultural Marketing Organization (Or Tor Kor - near Chatuchak Weekend market) to construct the twin 21-floor corn-cob apartments. After finishing the twin corncob apartments, the Community Development Bureau of BMA will handle gardening, garbage collecting, and managing the apartments. The corncob apartments will be supported by private investment, with the rent money from the tenants.

Samak: "I'll apply this style of BMA Administration by allowing the private sector to handle the project since BMA is running out of budget to handle new projects. The BMA budgets could cover only the projects from previous governors. The new funds for his projects will be realized in 2007. BMA services go pretty well. However, I need the approval from the BMA legislative and the BMA executive sections first. I hope that BMA council will approves the budget for new roads and shortcuts and road signs."

Mr. Mustafa Man-nga (Deputy Governor) said the central government has not delivered 4 billion baht from the 2001 VAT collection, causing lots of troubles in BMA budget management. Nevertheless, he will do his best to handle budget management to ensure that every officer in BMA offices will receive full salary without hurting continuing projects.

A tale of two newspapers: Mass transit details
The same story in a Thai-language newspaper (left) and English-language newspaper (right) showing how many details of the routes, perhaps not understandable to English-language readers, are summarized in the English-language newspaper.

New mass transit system masterplan delivered
400 billion baht over 20 years needed
Dailynews, June 22, 2001

The final draft of the new masterplan for Bangkok Mass Transit Systems is ready to be sent to Traffic Committee and the Cabinet. It need the a 20-year investment of 400 billion baht. The first phase consists of the Southern Extension of MRTA Blue Line (Hua Lamphong - Bang Wah), Southern Extension and Western Extension of BTSC Skytrain (Onnut - Samrong, Taksin - Phetkasem) and the Hopewell Revival as an elevated commuter line.

Pol. Yongyut Sarasombut (OCMLT Secretariat) said that OCMLT has finished the final draft for the plan, after working since March 2000. The plan will be delivered to the traffic committee and the cabinet soon. The revised plan comes from the 1994 Bangkok Mass Transit masterplan, but is revised to fit the current economic situation.

The 1994 masterplan said that Bangkok would have five major mass transit lines with a total distance of 378.7 km. However, the revised plan decreases the distance to 287.5 km. with a budget of 400 billion baht.

The OCMLT Secretariat said there will be three phases of the plan according to the recommendations from the consultants:

1) The 1st Phase from 2002-2011 with an annual investment from the government of 15 billion baht a year with a Total Distance in 2011 of 135.18 km.

1.1) SRT Red Line (Hopewell Revival from SRT) -> 4 sections
1.1.1) Phyathai - Suvannabhum Airport
1.1.2) Hua Lamphong - Bangsue via Samsen
1.1.3) Bangsue - Phyathai
1.1.4) Bangsue - Rangsit

1.2) MRTA Southern Extension of Blue Line
1.2.1) Hua Lamphong - Tha Phra - Bang Wah, and
1.3) BTSC Green Line Skytrain
1.3.1) Southern Extension (Onnut - Samrong)
1.3.2) Western Extension (Taksin - Phetkasem)

2) The 1st Phase from 2011-2021 and with the annual investment from the government of 25 billion baht a year with a total distance in 2022 of 287.5 km.

2.1) SRT Red Line (Hopewell Revival) -> 4 sections
2.1.1) Hua Lamphong - Si Phraya - Wongwian Yai - Taksin Center
2.1.2) Taksin - Mahachai (Eastern part of Mae Klong Line)
2.1.3) Bang Sue - Bang Son - Talingchan
2.1.4) Bang Sue - Donmuang (as MRT Line)

2.2) MRTA Blue Line from MRTA
2.2.1) Northern Extension (Bangsue - Phra Nangklao)
2.2.2) Northern Part of MRTA Ring Subway (Bangsue - Tha Phra)
2.2.3) Southern part of MRTA Ring Subway (Tha Phra - Klong Toei)

2.3) BTSC Green Line Skytrain
2.3.1) Southern Extension (Samrong - Naval Academy - Paknam)
2.3.2) Northern Extension (Mochit - Saphan Mai)
2.3.3) Western Extension (Pin Klao - National Stadium)

2.4) MRTA Orange Line
2.4.1) Minburi - MRTA Depot - Tiam Ruam Mit

The 3rd phase after 2022 -> the development of 5 lines with a total distance of 378.7 km -> probably finished in 2030-40.

3.1) 2 MRTA Blue Line extensions
3.1.1) Pha Nanklao Bridge - Bang Bua Thong and
3.1.2) Bang Wah - Bang Khae

3.2) 2 MRTA Orange Line extension.
3.2.1) Tiam Ruam MIT - Rat Boorana and
3.2.2) Rat Boorana - Samrong via Underwater Tunnel

3.3) Yellow Line (a replacement of Purple Line which will be scrapped after the Hopewell Revival and MRTA Northern extension become a reality) -> MRTA will be the owner
3.3.1) Lad Phrao - Bang Kapi - Sri Nakharin - Samrong, and
3.4) BTSC Skytrain Northern Extension from Donmuang (Saphan Mai) to Lum Lookka

Big bill for new transit routes
City's needs plotted for the next 20 years
Bangkok Post, by Supoj Wancharoen, June 24, 2001

Bangkok will need to spend 400 billion baht in the next two decades to build nearly 300 kilometres of mass transit routes, according to a recent study.

The Office of the Commission for Management of Land Traffic commissioned a consultant group, led by Pacific Consultants International Co, to come up with the Urban Rail Transportation Master Plan from March 2000.

The study, costing 50 million baht, would be forwarded to cabinet soon for approval.

Although the traffic office drew up a mass transit master plan in 1994, the new research was necessary to meet changes in transportation demand affected by the economic crisis in 1997.

Pol Maj Yongyut Sarasombat, secretary-general of the traffic office, said the study called for the following mass transit routes in the next decade:

-The Red Line commuter railway from Phya Thai to Nong Ngu Hao airport. This would be a shuttle mass transit system between the new airport and the inner city. The commuter route would be elevated on existing eastern railway tracks and join the skytrain (Green Line) and the Bangkok subway in Phya Thai and Phetchaburi areas respectively.

- The Red Line commuter railway from Hua Lampong to Bang Sue. The route would also be elevated above existing railway tracks.

- The Red Line commuter railway from Bang Sue to Phya Thai. This would be constructed above existing railway tracks and link the eastern commuter train line with the Bang Sue station where a new railway terminus would be developed.

- The Red Line from Bang Sue to Rangsit. This extension, also above existing railway tracks, would use the abandoned structure of the Hopewell mass transit project.

- The western extension of the Bangkok subway (Blue Line) from Hua Lampong to Tha Phra. The route would stretch from Hua Lampong through congested communities near Charoen Krung road across the Chao Phraya river to the south of Kalayanamit temple and be elevated through Tha Phra junction to reach Phetkasem road.

- The southeastern extension of the skytrain (Green Line) from Onnuj to Samrong.

- The southwestern extension of skytrain from the Taksin station to Mae Klong. The route would stretch from Sathorn road, then run across the Chao Phraya river, and further above Taksin and Phetkasem roads to Mae Klong.

Rail routes under the master plan were altogether 287.5km long. Implementation of the first phase in the next decade would cost about 150 billion baht and would cost a further 250 billion more in the following 10 years.

Commentary bt Wisarut: Dailynews states that it would cost about 20 billion baht to construct the Northern Section of Red Line (Rangsit - Hua Lamphong) suitable for diesel locomotives and it would take about 11-12 billion baht more to put the electric lines and electric trains into use. IMHO, 12 billion baht more in addition to the 20 billion baht budget for the first section of the Hopewell revival is definitely worth it since we will not have to worry about fumes from diesel locomotives if we run the electric locomotives instead. However, the SRT should design a ramp with the third (or forth) rail (from Donmuang to Lak Hok) to minimize the burden for the locomotives climbing up. Electric motors may not have enough power to push the locomotives up, compared to the diesel locomotives.

Another 200 billion baht to revitalize seven megaprojects
Siam Turakij, Vol. 7 No. 338, June 15-21 2001

Main points in this article:
* The Cabinet is preparing to inject 200 billion baht to invest in seven megaprojects that will also stimulate the local economy
* Subway-Hopewell heading forward
* Wannor calling New Bids for the Suvannabhum Airport and Southern part of Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road - with a total price of nearly 100 billion baht
* Samak pushing the Skytrain extensions while MOI is proposing new expressways and Prapa Canal Road

Thailand has been struct by economic crisis for a long time. The financial stimulation for economic recovery is not enough, so the budget injection is another important measure to boost the employment. Therefore, the Committee for Royal Projects for Traffic Solutions headed by Premier Thaksin Shinnawata has ordered OCMLT to push the Hopewell Project and the 38-km road on Prapa canal to become a reality. Also, the current government has decided to push seven megaprojects with price tags of 200 billion baht. These megaprojects consist of Skytrain, subway, expressway, motorway, and airport.

First megaproject to proceed-the subway extension

The first megaproject to be undertaken is the Southern extrension of the Blue line (Hua Lamphong - Bang Khae). The first section of the Southern extension (Hua Lamphong - Bang Wah -> 8.7 km) will cost the government 39.033 billion baht. The second section (Bang Wah - Bang Khae - 5.1 km) will be constructed later. There will be four conditions for the Southern extension from MRTA to be approved by the cabinet:

1. Approving the construction principles of design and build for the extension - the government will pay 80% on civil works while 20% is handled by the private sector for subway systems and services.

2. Approving investment funds of 30.771 billion baht - MOF finds the loan with relaxed conditions and the Budget Bureau allocates budget to support the project.

3. Approving the budget for the consultants to administrate and control the construction valued at 1.471 billion baht, land exappropriation budget of 3.357 billion baht and emergency funds of 3.260 billion baht (total budget of 8.088 billion baht).

4. Land exappropriation in the district of Pathumwan, Bang Rak, Pom Prabsattruphai, Sumphanthawongse, Phra Nakhon, Thonburi, Bangkok Yai, Phaseecharoen, and Bang Khae

Mr. Somsak said the Southern extension (8.7-km Hua Lamphong - Bang Wah) is necessary to be pushed since it is worthy to invest in (EIRR is 12.2%). The private investment will be from BMCL (a subsidary of Ch. Karnchang PCL) to run the service since BMCL already runs the service for the first section of subway. It is impossible to have several companies running the services on the same rails. If other companies run the extensions, it will cost more to connect the new and existing section (Bang Sue-Hua Lamphong), delay the completion of the Southern extension by several years, require construction of a new depot, and increase construction costs to a level unworthy to invest in.

Asking Khiree and Woo to Exorcise the Hopewell Ghost

For the revival of the 120 billion baht Hopewell Project, Premier Thaksin has ordered OCMLT to speed up the Hopewell revival with the cheapest budget possible. The idea being to connect Hopewell with BTSC Skytrain at Mochit (should be at Mochit 2) and run it to Rangsit Station. However, OCMLT need to discuss such a proposal with Mr. Khiree Kanchanaphak (BTSC CEO) and Mr. Gordon Woo (Hopewell (Thailand) CEO) and see if they would like to invest in such a project. Seem Consulting Co.Ltd. (a Consulting Company) will submit the detailed and comprehensive plan for Hopewell revival to the SRT Board by the end of June 2001.

So far, the government has invested 50-60 billion baht on the civil work and basic structure while the private sector would invest 40 billion baht on the system, rolling stocks and services. There will be 5 railway tracks - 3 for regular trains and the other 2 for skytrain. There will be 2 lines - Northern line (Rangsit - Hua Lamphong - 29 km) and the Eastern line (Yommaraj - Hua Mark - 16 km). The Southern section will not be constructed at this time being due to the lack of demand. MOTC Ministor Wan Muhammad Nor Matha said the MOTC and SRT are studying the investment plan.

A possible way to kickstart the project is a joint venture or private concession. SRT has estimated the preliminary construction cost (60 billion baht) and submitted it to Minister Wannort. Minister Wannor said 60 billion baht is too much since the government can allocate only 20 billion baht for the revival plan. Therefore, Ministor Wannor ordered SRT to downsize the project. The downsized revival project will leave only the Northern section due to the high demand and the Skytrain could cover the Eastern section with only a few problems.

The Three Skytrain Extensions

BMA is making a move on the megaprojects since it is Governor Samak's policy to push three skytrain extensions into reality. The 3 skytrain extensions with a price tag of 30 billion baht are as follows:

1) Northern Extension (Mochit - Donmuang - Lum Lookka)
2) Southwestern Extension (Saphan Taksin - Ko Boh [AKA Wongwian Yai] - Phekasem [AKA Bang Wah])
3) Southeastern Extension (Onnuj - Bang Na - Samrong Tai).

The most recent news about the Skytrain is in early June. At that time, the Committee for the Investment Plan on Public Projects headed by the City Clerk asked Mr. Khiree Kanchanaphak (BTSC CEO) to submit the TOR to BMA within 30 days. Previously, BTSC asks BMA to handle the civil works and structure while BTSC was going to handle the service in the same way as BMCL does with the MRTA Subway. Such a proposal will need the cabinet approval before calling a new bid while inviting 11 groups to join the bidding.

Commentary by Wisarut: Even though the cabinate has already approved the Samrong and Taksin extensions, BTSC said it is impossible to handle the project by itself, so BMA has to bail BTSC out of trouble by proposing 80% public investment and 20% private investrment to the cabinet. Furthermore, people around Rama III area do not like Dr. Bhijit's idea of running the Rama III tram.

More commentary by Wisarut: I feel afraid that no companies besides BTSC will bid on the new lines. There is no need since BTSC will not need a new depot and they are already running the rest of the system.

Elevated Road on Prapa Canal

The elevated road on Prapa Canal from Samsen Water Utility Section to Pathumthanee with a distance of 38 km may start by the end of the year with a budget of 12 billion baht. The project was initially started in 1997, but the economic meltdown put the stating date indefinitely on hold.

Budgeting the New Airport

MOTC has become the receiptent of a billion-baht treasure trove though two new megaproject with a price tag of nearly 100 billion baht. The first megaproject is the main terminal of Suvannabhum International Airport (AKA NBIA or Nong Ngoo Hao Airport) with a price tag of 45 billion baht. Minister Wannor would like to see the nine local and international contractors which have passed the preliminary qualification (PQ) for submitting a new bid after negotating with JBIC. So far, NBIA Co.Ltd. has called a bid for the terminal - the heart of Suvannabhum International Airport. However the winners' bid was still 8 billion baht higher than the 45 billion baht. Therefore, NBIA is asking MJTA to revise the terminal design to cut the budget to fit into the 45 billion baht budget. The construction cost should be 35 billion baht.

Commentary by Wisarut: I am afraid that JBIC will not allow NBIA to call a new bid unless the Japanese contractors or local contractors with Japanese contractors as strategic partners win the bid. JBIC does not want to see their money flowing into Korean, European, Chinese and American contractors' wallets! Therefore, it is not a surprise at all to see JBIC supporting four Japanese contractors even though it requires a higher budget than Hyundai Construction Co.Ltd. or the Chinese Contractor.

The Southern Section of the Outer Ring Road

The second megaproject is Southern Section of Outer Ring Road. The Highway Dept. will spend 17-billion baht cake for the turnkey motorway (AKA Southern Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road from Suksawat to Bang Plee), after trying to find the ways to cut down the budget without success. So far, a Thai-German Group led by Prayoon Watsawa Co.Ltd. won the turnkey motorway project with a price tag of 16.5 billion baht. However, the 10 year payment period has ballooned by 30 billion baht. Therefore, Ministor Wannor is asking the Highqway Dept. to find a new way to invest to cut down the debt. However, the Highway Dept. could not find the way to cut down the project. Therefore, a new bid is necessary.

Related Articles on the Skytrain site
On the Unofficial Bangkok Skytrain Site are two informative articles about the new Bangkok Southern City Terminal:
Revealing Three Thonburi Districts for the new Southern Bangkok City
and
Hunting for the area around Thonburi to build the Southern Bangkok Terminal

Bangkok the Modern City

In the April, 2001 issue of Sawasdee (the Thai Airways in-flight magazine) there is an article entitled "Building a Boomtown" that examines the state of Bangkok as a modern city. The article itself isn't much, but at least there seems to be no errors. (Sawasdee reminded readers a couple of months ago that Bangkok has the largest restaurant in the world, Tam Nak Thai. The problem is that the restaurant was bulldozed five years ago.)
The real treat is the fantastic black and white photos which includes a neat shot of a construction worker hanging over the freeway and some great photos of the Skytrain. Unfortunately, the only way to get the issue is to take one if you fly on Thai this month or pick up an issue from the Thai headquarters on Weepahwadeerangsit Road.

Commuters from Nong Ngoohao, Rangsit, Talingchan and Taksin to feed Skytrain
Thairath Daily, April 18, 2001

Mr. Chaloemsak Rabilwongse (Director of Mass Transit System Management Section, OCMLT) said after the 1/2544 Traffic Committee Meeting (the First Traffic Committee Meeting of 2001), that they are going to review the priority for investment in large traffic projects due to budget constraints and limited funds. For the master plan to deliver to the new cabinet, there are three lines to be done - SRT Red line (AKA Hopewell), MRTA Blue line (Subway), and BTSC Green line (Skytrain).

For the SRT Red line, it will save about 20-30 billion baht (US$ 500-750 million) if SRT stops the plan for the SRT Skytrain and revives the SRT suburb commuter plan instead. The savings would be used for making extensions stretching in four directions--Nong Ngoo Hao Airport in the East, Rangsit in the North, Talingchan Junction at the Northwest and Taksin Transportation Center at the Southwest which will relieve traffic congestion and give more transportation choices for citizens on the Thonburi side (other than BMTA buses and Chaophraya boat and ferry services).

Furthermore, the suburb commuter plan would feed the Skytrain and subway while connecting to the long distance railway since it would use a meter gauge to enable the locomotives to use SRT depots at Makkasan and Phaholyothin. After all the 3 lines are done in 2011 (hopefully), it will create a complete mass transit network. Therefore, it is necessary to have all three owners of the mass transit project to help each other to realize the mass transit network and ensure a common interests on the project instead of dealing with their line alone which will not work at all.

Commentary by Wisarut: Electric rolling stocks may require major readjustment of the railway tracks (especially at Makksan, Hua Lamphong, Bangsue and Talingchan) to enable the electric suburb commuters (with a meter gauge) to run on the tracks SRT locomotives use. Diesel rolling stock will force the construction of the track to be either elevated tracks or the ground level tracks since the underground tracks have prohibitive construction cost. Ground-level tracks (from Bangsue to Talingchan, Hua Mark-Nong Ngoo Hao Airport or so) will require overpass bridges or tunnels to enable automobiles to cross railway tracks without waiting. For the case of Nong Ngoo Hao Airport, it will be 2006 before it opens. We will see which one will be done first--the airport or the Hopewell revival extension to the airport.

More Commentary by Wisarut: I have seen that southern palm oil farmers mixing coconut oil with kerosene to substitute for the imported or smuggled diesel fuel since the fuel prices for diesel cost the farmers and fishermen while palm oil has become (at a ratio of 20 gallons of coconut oil to a gallon of kerosene. Palm oil farmer claim that fuel mixture causes the engines to emit less smoke than the conventional diesel (low sulfur diesel). Probably, SRT could look into this if they still need to run their diesel locomotives. The National Energy Policy Organization (NEPO) are trying to improve the quality of the coconut oil fuel so that it will be possible to market it commercially. Coconut farmers at Chumporn say they will market their biodiesel to crematoria. If they are successful in marketing to crematoria, they won't have to worry about the falling price of coconut oil. For the case of palm oil, there is a test van that uses pure palm oil as a fuel. Even though it works, they still need more research on the engine and the improvement of palm oil to lower the production costs to an acceptable level for commercial use.

Samak Preparing for the 80-km Bangkok Ring Mass Transit System
Manager Daily, April 4, 2001

Mr. Samak Suthoravet (BMA Governor) said he has plans to construct a ring mass transit system of 80 km long which was mentioned during the election campaign. Such a ring mass transit system is very similar to the one used in Tokyo.

The Bangkok Mass Transit Ring will use grounded double tracks connecting three planned extensions (Bangplee, Mahachai and Lam Lookka) and other communities around Bangkok. Most sections are at the ground level. Only some sections such as along Rama III Inner Ring Road will be elevated (such as the Rama III and Klong Toei section). There is no need for land expropriation since the construction will go along the highways.

The possible route will start from Bang Plee and then go to Lum Lookka, Rangsit Pathum Thani, Bang Bua Thong, western Kanchanaphisek outer ring road, Bang Bon, Bookkhalo, Rama III Bridge, Rama III inner ring road, Chong Nonsee, Klong Toei, Bangkok University, Sanphawut Intersection (Bang Na), Samrong, and end up at Bang Plee.

For the preliminary plan, Governor Samak said the railways and mass transit companies from China have strong interest to invest on this project and offer BMA a free detailed study on the projects. Since about 20% of the route is outside the BMA area, BMA has to discuss and negotiate with the governors and city halls of neighbor provinces (Nonthaburi, Samut Prakarn and Pathum Thani) to cooperate with the plan since the ring route extends to their provinces. BMA also needs to call the Highway Department to join in the meeting since most sections of the ring are the responsibility of the Highway Department, so BMA will ask Highway Department to transfer the parts of land along the highways to construct the routes. After the feasibility studies are done, BMA will deliver the project to OCMLT to assess the plan and draft the TOR to allow the bidding competition for this mass transit ring system.

Starting the Bangkok Ring Mass Transit to Bail BTSC out of trouble
Dailynews, April 5, 2001

Governor Samak is pushing forward the Bangkok Mass Transit Ring to feed the Skytrain with not less than a million suburb passengers a day through private investment with government support. Governor Samak Sunthoravet (BMA Governor) said after the BMA meeting session that BMA agreed to initialize the Bangkok Mass Transit Ring System which he had mentioned during the election campaign through the following procedures:

1) Discussion with the Director of Highway Department and the provincial governors which are Bangkok neighbors to get cooperation, suitable routes, and land in the middle of highways from them.
2) If the first step is successful, the second stage is to ask a Chinese consultant company to make a preliminary detail and feasibility studies on the project which will take 3 months.

Governor Samak said that the mass transit ring system will be constructed as double tracks of a 10 meter width with most of distances at ground level. Only at intersections, the stations and some parts in Bangkok will be elevated like a skytrain. The total distance will be 80 km. The rough sketch for the routes will be as follows:

1) Going from Bang Plee Intersection near Bang Plee District Hall along Bang Plee-Lad Krabang Road (National Highway No. 3256) to King Kaeo-Bangplee Intersection

Commentary by Wisarut: This section will pass Bang Plee Industrial Center as well as the factory around the Bang Plee area

2) Going From Kingkaeo-Bang Plee intersection to King Kaeo intersection via King Kaeo Road (National Highway No. 3256 or Lad Krabang Soi 18)

Commentary by Wisarut: This section will need to have a station near the road to the western gate of Suvannabhum Airport, the gate to the Royal and VIP Terminal to facilitate the movement of the airport passengers if the Airport becomes a reality by the end of 2004. The airport can be delayed, but never canceled or delayed forever since HM The King has granted a name for the airport.

3) Turn right to Lad Krabang Road (AKA Soi Onnut - Sukhumvit Soi 77) and then turn left to Romklao Road and go along Romklao Road to Ram Kham Haeng Road (Sukhaphiban 3 Road) in Minburi

Commentary by Wisarut: This section will need to have a station and park and ride facility near Lad Krabang Railway Station to pick up those students of KMITL, Rajamangala Institute (Lad Krabang Campus), and people living around Hua Takhae, Rom Klao, and Lad Krabang areas.

4) Going to Surinthawongse Road (National Highway No. 304) via a shortcut road and then turning right to Surinthawongse Road at Minburi Young Men Correction Station and then turn left to Nimitmai Road (National Highway No. 3261) at Minburi Post Office After that, going along Nimit Mai Road to Lum Lookka.

Commentary by Wisarut: The shortcut will be very close to Minburi District Office and Minburi. The stations in this section should be close to the gate of suburb villages so the people will simply ride motorcycle cabs or small compact buses to the skytrain.

5) After reaching Lum Lookka District Office, going along Lum Lookka Road (National Highway No. 3312) to Thoopatemee Stadium (AKA Royal Thai Airforce Stadium). After that, going along Phaholyothin Road (National Highway No. 1) to Rangsit Flea Market and Future Park Rangsit.

Commentary by Wisarut: The stations in this section should be close to the gate of suburb villages or bus stops so the suburb people will simply ride motorcycle cabs, small compact buses, and BMTA buses to the skytrain. Even better, there should be several via ducts connecting the skytrain with the department stores, shopping malls, and flea markets around the Rangsit-Khookhot area.

6) Going along National Highway No. 346 to Bang Phoon and the gate to Wat Sadet (the beginning of National Highway No. 3309) to Phoon Sub Flea market and then turn right along National Highway No. 346 and go across Pathum Thanee Bridge to Pathum Thanee Intersection and then turn left to go along Bangkok-Pathumthanee Road (AKA National Highway No. 307) which is very close to Pathum Thanee Provincial Hall to Saphan Nuan Chawee Intersection (AKA Nonthaburi Bridge Intersection)

Commentary by Wisarut: There should be some stations at the following places: near Rangsit Railway Station, Bang Phoon Overpass and foot of Pathum Thanee Bridge as well as the gate of suburb villages

7) Turn right at Saphan Nuan Chawee Intersection to National Highway No. 345 to Bang Bua Thong Intersection. After that, turn left to go along Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road (National Highway No. 9) to Bang Bon.

Commentary by Wisarut: There should be some stations at the following places: the Bang Bua Thong Intersection, the Southern Railway, Mae Klong Railway, the community along Kanchanaphisek outer ring road as well as the gate of suburb villages

8) Turn Right to go along Rama II Highway (National Highway No. 35) to Bang Mod Intersection and then going along Bang Pa Kaeo canal (or Suk Sawat Soi 13) to Charoen Nakhon Road and then turn left to Bookkhalo Intersection. After Reaching Bokkhalo Intersection, going across Chao Phraya via Rama III Bridge and along Rama III inner ring road to Klong Toei (Port Authority of Thailand)

Commentary by Wisarut: There should be a station near bang Khun Thian intersection to facilitate the traveler who wants to see the Bangkok Sea with mangrove forest. The pillars for this section should be high enough so that container boats can go under the skytrain bridge. The route along Rama III Inner Ring Road is a part of Rama III extension. For the route from the mouth of Chong Nonsee canal to Klongtoei, this route will need to pass along the petroleum and gas storage depots (Shell, Exxon [Esso in Thailand], and Texaco [Caltex in Thailand]). I could not imagine what would happen if those tanks blew up during the construction or afterward. Just think about the Thai Oil Refinery blowing up a few years ago and you will see why I say so! For the section across Chao Phraya river, I would prefer an underground tunnel so as to avoid the construction of the bridge as high as Rama III Bridge.

9) Going along Rama IV and Thang Rotfai Kao Sai Paknam Road (a road that will go along the Pak Nam railway route - AKA National Highway No. 3109) to Wat Saphan Klong Toei Flea Market, Klong Toei Neighborhood (Bangkok Harlem), Phoon Sub Flea Market Bangkok University, Tanning Organization, Klong Toei District Office and Phra Khanong Canal. After that, it goes along Thang Rotfai Sai Kao (Sai Paknam) Road (AKA National Highway No. 3109) to Poo Chao Saming Phrai Road (National highway No. 3113) via Wat Saphan, Sukhumvit Soi 50 (Soi Kasem Suwan), petroleum storage depots (MOD Fuel Organization, PTT, and Bangchak), Bangchak and SCHQ Refinery, Plywood factory of Thai Plywood Co.Ltd., Glass and Battery factory of RTN, Sanphawut Intersection, RTN Naval Ordinance Dept., Samrong Canal New Samrong flea Market, and Poochao Saming Plai Intersection (a road to the pier across Chao Phraya to the downtown Phra Pradaeng). And then turning left to Sukhumvit Road (National Highway No. 3).

Commentary by Wisarut: It may necessary to make a stringent security in the station around Klong Toei to nab hoodlums and drug dealers around Klong Toei neighborhood. The construction from Phra Khanong canal to the End of Naval Ordnance (the Southern city limit of Bangkok) requires stringent safety checks due to potential hazards from the naval ammunition, petroleum, and plywood.

10) Turn left to go along Sukhumvit Road (National Highway No. 3) up to Thepharak Intersection. After that, going along Thepharak Road (National Highway No. 3268) up to Bang Plee - the end of the ring road.

Commentary by Wisarut: It would be much nicer to design the Lum Lookka, Mahachai and Bang Plee extension so that those extensions will eventually become a part of Bangkok Mass Transit Ring which will reduce much of the budget waste.

Governor Samak said this mass transit ring project is to connect Bang Plee extension and Mahachai extension to ensure daily passengers of more than 1 million. He will consider 100% private investment (with BMA subsidies and support). The ticket fee should be around 20 baht so the company will have a daily income of 20 million baht.

Commentary by Wisarut: With such a long routes, the ticket fees of 20 baht is DEFINITELY a big bargain. However, the ticket price for the whole ring route may reach 100 baht if they go around the circle and to the City Center. The maximum ticket price of 40-50 baht will be much reasonable price if they travel along the circle route and to the route outside the circle. The provincial halls and other relating companies and offices should be shareholders to ensure that the concession holders will do the best to maximize the profits.

More commentary by Wisarut: Since the Southern section of the proposed mass transit ring will have to go along Rama III Inner ring road, I expect conflicts between BMA and MRTA+OCMLT. However, I can see some solutions to prevent serious conflicts which can sink both BTSC and MRTA altogether. The resolutions could be the following steps:

1) Let BTSC construct Rama III extension as a part of Bangkok Ring Loop.
2) Reroute the proposed MRTA Blue line which will become a Ring Loop from Rama III road (Klong Toei- Rama III Bridge) to go along the 1st Stage Expressway up to the foot of Rama IX Bridge before turning right to go along Rama III inner ring road. After all, MRTA was conceived by Expressways Authority of Thailand and the Expressway Authority is now in financial trouble due to billions of US-dollars of debt which prohibits the Expressway Authority from the construction of the mass transit along the expressways.
3) Reroute the propose BMA Mass Transit Ring to turn right along Ratboorana Road instead to turn left along Charoen Nakhon Road and then go across Chao Phraya via Rama IX Bridge and turn right to Sadhupradit Intersection to meet with the Rama III intersection.
4) If possible, BMA should ask MRTA to dig the tunnel to go across Chaophraya via Rama IX Bridge and construct an interchange station between the BMA and MRTA Ring system at the foot of Rama IX Bridge.
5) If step 3 (above) does not work out, reroute the MRTA Blue line ring to go across Rama IX and then turn right to go along Rat Boorana and Charoen Nakhon to Bukkhalo Intersection and then turn left to Ratchadaphisek Inner Ring Road. At the same time, BTSC must reroute to go along Bang Pa Kaeo canal (or Suksawat Soi 13) and construct a new bridge across Chao Phraya at Thanon Tok Pier After that, the BMA ring system will turn right to Rama III road to connect with Rama III extension at Sadhupradit Intersection. If possible, BTSC should ask MRTA to construct a tunnel to go under the Chao Phraya and an interchange station for both mass transit rings at the beginning of Rat Boorana Road.

All the 5 steps are the only ways to deal with upcoming conflicts. Actually, there are a few more resolutions for this upcoming conflict, but they are NOT so good as those I proposed here.

Furthermore, Rama III, Machai, Lum Lookka and Bang Plee extension must be designed in a way that can be assembled and connected into BMA Mass Transit Ring to save the budget and cut down unnecessary waste of taxpayer money. I'm a Bangkokian who has to pay tax to the government, so I have to exert my rights to ensure that any upcoming project will not become a waste of taxpayers' money like Hopewell was!

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