This section contains news of the Master Plan, overall Bangkok development, the Bangkok Governor's development plans, and articles about interconnecting mass transit projects.
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Pakkret ordinance depot moves to make way for new parliament - and reinvigorates Bangkok Land - translated and summarized from Siam Turakij, September 28-October 4, 2003
The Ministry of Defense has decided to move the Pakkaret Ordinance to Khao Phra Ngam, Lopburi (Military Town) to make a way for the new parliament. Premier Thaksin agrees with the Minster of Defense since it is the cheapest deal and very close to the river and has good transportation routes. The move to Lopburi will be completed in November 2004.
The proposed area
This 265-rai of Ordinance area [265 rail, 2 ngan, 7 square wah to be exact] is between Tiwanon Road and Chao Phraya river and very close to the expressway and other routes ... thus the transportation is not a problem. It is in a Bangkok suburb (technically in Pakkret district of Nonthaburi which both Nonthaburi and Pakkret have the status as "City").
However, the government and Ministry of Defense need to purchase another 150-rai of orchards on Chao Phraya [the adjacent area of Pakkret Ordinance] to make a place for the buildings along Chao Phraya [1250-m shore line] and render the area a rectangular shape.
There are already 21 office buildings, 1 maintenance building, 1 general building, 54 ordinance buildings, and 33 barracks.
Speculators are moving to the Pakkaret area, close to the Ordinance to purchase land as well as construct the Krungtrhai Hospital and Country Place Bar Beer [just opened].
Most villages around the Ordinance are the old projects. There are a few new ones like Chotchuang Chatchawan Village, and Flowery Home Village.
Not final yet
However, the final decision is not settled yet. The criteria to select land for a new parliament are:
1) not private land - should be mostly public land
2) the least expense on construction
3) the new parliament will look very graceful with aestetic surrounding
4) very good transportation routes
For the case of the Ordinance area, the pros and cons are:
1) The area is in a flood protection area
2) Expressway is already there ... but needs to expand Bangkok-Pathumthani Road as well as Nonthaburi Bridge [AKA Nuanchawee Bridge] as well as the new extension of the subway to the area
3) Still within the service area of Metropolitan Waterworks Authority and Metropolitan Electricity Authority
4) Still within the area for water treatment and garbage collection of Pakkret City
5) Close to the High Power Lines
6) Within the telephone area of Nonthaburi and still has adequate vacant numbers for the new parliament
1) Within the City Area - with high buildings to obstruct the view of the Parliament
2) Air pollution from exhaust and dust
3) Needs very long pillars to construct due to soft clay area
4) High rate of land subsidence and bad drainage
5) Military Area requires major demolition as well as high compensation
6) Those who work and live around the area have to be moved away due to the land restriction
7) Factories around the parliament area (such as those in Bang Kradee Industrial Estate, the brewery, Pepsi factory, etc.) have to be moved away and the government needs to allocate new industrial estates to handle these factories.
8) If there is a demonstration, it will generate serious friction between those who live around the parliament area and the protesters.
The road from Phetkasem - Sai Noy Rattnathibet (via Rama 5 Bridge) and Bangkruay - Sai Noy - Kanchanaphisek (via Rama 5 Bridge) is done. Borommaratchachonnanee - Phetkasem will be opened on September 30 and the two linking road will be opened in 2004.
The new Chaophraya Bridge at Pakkret has just received budget approval - to be done in 2006. The first section will be an overpass bridge across the Chao Phraya and the North-South road linking Rama 5 Bridge with Highway 345. The East-West section (including the overpass bridge) will connect Kanchanaphisek road with Chaeng Watthana. The North-South and East-west road will be 6-land highways to unclog the traffic at Phra Nangklao Bridge.
Real estate developers such as Sansiri PCL [with a project Setsiri in Sanambin Nam], Mankhong Khehakarn PCL [with projects at Khae Rai and and Chuanchuen Chaeng Watthana at the bypass road to Chang Watthana] , and Buathong Property Co.Ltd said it is a good ideal to have the parliament in Pakkret so that it will boost land prices and other infrastructure will follow. Thus it will render their projects money-makers and they can close their deals successfully.
Commentary by Wisarut: If the government decides to move the national assembly to Pakkret, MRTA and BMCL should come up with the Purple line (Tao Poon - Muangthong Thani - Pakkret) to Pakkret via Muangthong Thani the terminal should be at Pakkret intersection to pick up those who watch movie at Major Hollywood ... at least, this line will please those who live in Pakkret City ....
Poison pen from SRT - translated and summarized from MRTA news from Manager Daily
I found a poison pen post from a SRT worker whose name is "Dr. Somchai Student of SRT" -> probably a Democrat and SRT supporter:
MRTA must use very cunning and dirty tricks to fool Deputy Minister Somsak [Somsak Thpsuthi] and Minister Suriya [Suriya Juengrungruengkit] to shorten SRT lines to end up at Bangsue Junction instead of going all the way to Hua Lamphong as a way to boost the number of passengers for the MRTA subway which we (SRT workers) consider as "a system at risk for arson, flooding, tunnel collapse" with a VERY high price tag ...
Furthermore, MRTA has fooled the people to ride Skytrain rolling stock supplied by Siemens since Siemens cannot assemble the Subway rolling stocks on time.
Even more, the good old Makkasan Depot has to be gone to make a way for the Airport Link to get money from foreign investors so as to destroy the Itaen (Democrat Party) - using the depot and maintenance center in the same form as the MRTA depot and maintenance center - but this time MOTC has invited Bombadier to handle the depot -> since Bombadier has invited and paid MOTC ministers, Ai Jitsanti, and MRTA officers to see their offices.
SRT workers must be very stupid since Mr. Thanasophon [SRT Director Jitsanti Thanasophon] is a VERY BAD MAN. Mr. Jitsanti is an OUTSIDER, and not the one of US... [There's more here including accusations of kickbacks and the SRT Board.] Mr. Jitsanit has accused his subordinates who cause delays on laundry matters which Sin Chai Hua will be a replacement soon [SRT recently changed the company that provides laundry service.].
Furthermore, he has secretly sold the SRT land in Phuket which is reserved for the future railway from Kirirat Nikhom to Phuket. The land for Easter Railway (Yommaraj - Chachoengsao) which is supposed to be 20 wah per side has been reduced to 20 meter per side.
Also, those who get involved in the scandals such as the 1.7 million Baht/station restrooms and expensive railway sleepers have not been punished at all... [The writer is referring to other recent SRT scandals involving alleged overpayment.]
Commentary by Wisarut: Anything about SRT is scandalous as usual. The rolling stock I have seen are brand new--not the Skytrain rolling stock as Dr. Somchai has alleged. There are several other lies this guy has written. It is a shame that SRT has is filled with dinosaurs like Dr. Somchai who refuse electric trains for the Airport Link and still cling to old diesel engines.
Ratchadamnoen Avenue project & mass transit - from translated and summarized from Manager Daily - September 20, 2003
[Check out the map of the building zones along the avenue (with both English and Thai labels) and future mass transit routes around Rattankosin Island on this page. The comments below refer to the maps on that page.]
The project coordinator said that Ratchadamnoen Buildings (built around 1937-39) have become dilapidated after the opening of Pinklao Bridge in 1973 due to smoke and pollution. There should be a new park and ride at Khao San Road. Sidewalk Cafes with shade trees along Ratchadamnoen Avenue should be revived to ensure the climate of Champs Elysees [the prototype of Rachadamnoen Avenue] as well. After all, Ratchadamnoen Avenue should be for royal ceremonies, state ceremonies and ceremonies for the people.
Commentary by Wisarut: Notice that the project is going to use the route of the defunct Hopewell (the underground section) to extend mass transit to Sanam Luang (the foot of Pinklao Bridge - Bangkok Side). This western extension will go along Rama I Road from National Stadium to Yotse. After that, the line will turn right and become an underground route [Green Line Subway] along Phadung Krungkasem canal to Saphan Khao via Bo Beh Garment Market.
After that, it will go along Lan Luang Road [the route proposed by Hopewell and SRT] to Phan Fah Bridge [the gate of Rattanakosin Island to intersect the future MRTA Orange line] and then go along Ratchadamnoen Avenue to the Supreme Court before ending up at National Theater near the foot of Pinklao Bridge.
Note that LAN Luang station [BTSC] is at the intersection between Lan Laung Road and Chakkraphadiphongse road--very close to Klong Thom (the market for spare parts and second hand electrical products).
I would like to ask the project coordinator to allow the BTSC extension to go across Chao Phraya to Bangkok Noy Railway Station and then go up to Arun Amarin Intersection before going along Pinklao Road to intersect with the MRTA Northern Ring at Pinklao Intersection. After that, it is up to BMTA, Project Coordinators and Traffic Policy to extend the route to Talingchan or just terminate the route at Pinklao Road.
The Grand Palace Station Southern Extension of MRTA Blue line is not exactly at the Grand Palace though. It is more likely in front of Grand Palace Metropolitan Police station according to the map. This one is also very close to Pakklong Talad Flea Market as well as Ban Moh (Bangkok version of Akihabara).
Going to the Grand Palace and Wat Poh requires passengers to walk northward. Therefore, the proposed BMA Rattanakosin Ring Tramway along the Old City moat [dug in 1771] must be included in the plan to function as a feeder to the Southern Extension of the Blue line and BTSC Skytrain (which has to become a subway).
Too bad the proposed BMA ring tramway is not long enough to reach Orange line.
Furthermore, the Bang Khunphrom station of MRTA Orange line is pretty far from BangLamphoo and the coordinators seem to ask MRTA not to construct Bang Lamphoo station. If possible, Bang Lampho station should be revived--allowing the the proposed Bangkok Ring Tramway to reach Bang Lamphoo and become a feeder of all three major lines.
Even though the Crown Property Bureau said people who live in 3 Phraeng (Phrang Phoothorn, Phrang Sanphasart, Phraeng Nara) can stay in their homes, the rent hike from 800 to 10,000 baht a month have discouraged them from staying. No wonder that 25 communities in Rattanakosin Island asks the Ratchadamnoen coordinators to review and revive the plan.
Critiquing the Salang Plan - September 10, 2003
Wisarut reports: I have information on the Mass Transit System plan proposed by Pol. Gen. Salang Bunnag from Manager Daily which consists mainly of railways as well as an LRT along the expressways. A map of the plan is here (119kb).
However, I would like to comment about Gen Salang Plan:
1) For the LRT along expressways, MRTA would have to allow Ch. Karnchang and the Expressway Authority to become shareholders. Otherwise, MRTA would not be allowed to run LRT service along expressways.
2) MRTA would have to ensure that the system will be physical interchangeble--no need to leave a station to make an interchange. The uncomfortable interchanges between the Skytrain and Subway should remind them of this fact.
3) For the case of SRT railway, the system must be electrified. DMU commuter units as well as diesel locomotives which SRT possesses are very unsuitable for going into tunnels (such as the section through Rattankosin Island).
4) Even though the routes proposed by Gen. Salang are pretty good, General Salang has forgets to take some facts into account: mass transit systems should be at very important places with very high density.
General Salang did not include the following routes into his plan:
1) MRTA Orange lines to pick up passengers in the Ram Khamhaeng area
2) BTSC Samrong extension to pick up the passengers in Samut Prakarn area
3) MRTA Southern extension through Rattanakosin Island.
4) Yellow lines along Lad Phrao - Sri Nakharin Road
If General Salang has known that BTSC and MRTA are very determined to push the extensions forward, he would have revised his plan by erasing some of his proposed lines.
5) Park and rides with facilities to pick up passengers for all railway stations along commuter lines are a must.
6) Gen. Salang forgets that Bangkokians are already fed up with BMTA bus services (even the Euro 2 type - the best BMTA can offer). Therefore, the plan to use BMTA buses to run in the downtown and inner cities parts will NEVER work.
7) The Mae Nam line is at best a feeder to the Air Port Express. At worse, it is a waste of money since the Blue Line passes the gate of the Queen Sirikit National Convention center. Comfortable interchanges with Ploenchit Station and Klong Toei station are a must. Land expropriation along Expressway and Maenam Railway is a must since the space is very tight.
8) The line along Paknam Railway Road is a big waste of money since it has become a truck route with no important places--unless there may be land speculators along the route.
9) Going across Chao Phraya parallel to Rama IX Bridge is very risky... It would need an underwater tunnel or very steep bridge like Rama III Bridge.
10) It would be much better if someone had sent a photocopy of the OCMLT plan for the Orange line to Gen Salang so that he will take the data from OCMLT into account before submitting his plan. A map of the plan is here (119kb).
Premier Thaksin and the cabinet has approved the following mass transit systems:
1) Southern extensions of Subway -> Hua Lamphong - Tha phra - Bangkhae (13.8 km) -> has already passed the preliminary design and environmental assessment -> ready to call a bid for contractor -> should be implemented immediately with the condition attached to cut construction cost from 4 billion baht/km by not hiring a consultant -> let the contractors design and plan the construction costs - in comparison with the first 20 km of the subway, this will cut costs by 30%
2) Northern Ring -> Bangsue - Tao Poon - Wongsawang - Rama VI - Bang Oh - Krung Thon - Bang Plad - Charansanitwongse - Pin Klao - Sam Yaek Fai Chai - Tha Phra -> need to start the preliminary design immediately
3) Orange Line -> MRTA Depot - Victory Monument - Thewet - Bang Lamphoo - Phan Fah - Wang Boorapha - Memorial Bridge - Wongwian Yai - Suk Sawat -> make preliminary design immediately
4) Red line Commuter
4.1) Airport Link (Phyathai - Makkasan - NBIA)
4.2) Northern Commuter (Bangsue - Rangsit)
5) BTSC -> Taksin Extension allowed but the 2nd phase of Taksin extension is halted until BMA and BTSC have settled debt questions with creditors
For Expressways -> Ram Indra - Lam Lookka - Kanchanaphisek Road, and the controversial CD Road (Yommarat - Rajdamri) are to be resumed -> and Trok Chan - Rat Boorana is revived to relieve congestion on Rama IX Bridge.
Commentary by Wisarut: For the commuter, a depot at Bangsue and Makkasan is needed! Also, the Orange Line should be extended to Bangkapi to relive congestion at Ram Khamhaeng, Hua Mark and Lam Salee. Feeder buses around Lad Phrao and Bang Kapi will not work.
SRT dusting off double track projects - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, Monday - September 8, 2003
SRT has responded after Premier Thaksin has made a clear statement to invest more on rail systems (both double tracking and High Speed Rail) by coming up with double track projects in interprovincial routes which have been frozen for a long time due to high construction cost.
Minister Suriya agrees that it is necessary to make a huge investment on such a project so as to cut energy consumption to 100 billion baht from the current 300 billion baht. Transportation gobbles 37% of annual energy consumption. The final plan will come up next month.
The SRT Governor said that double tracking will allow inbound/outbound railways to run without having to make a long stop to yield the track for outbound/inbound trains, thus speeding up the schedule, saving energy bills by running with more efficiency, increasing frequency to increase passengers and cargo, and thus boosting revenue to pay off SRT debts.
So far, double tracks have been limited to 234 km of double tracks in Bangkok and vicinity for commuters in addition to the old 90-km double track from Hua Lamphong - Ban Phachee (built in 1936). The double-tracked sections are:
1) Rangsit - Ban Phachee - 61 km (triple track)
2) Ban Phachee - Lopburi - 43 km
3) Hua Mark - Chachoengsao - 45 km
4) Ban Phachee - Kaengkhoi - Mab Krabao - 44 km
5) Bangsue - Nakhon Pathom - 41 km
SRT is getting a big boost from other agencies to come up with double tracking. There will be 4 routes to get double tracks with a distance of 756 km and a total price tag of 85.88 billion baht:
1) Lopburi - Nakhon Sawan - 113 km, 10.2 billion baht, to be done in 4 years. The double tracking from Lopburi to Nakhon Sawan will shorten the running time of Bangkok (Hua Lamphong) to Nakhon Sawan (Paknam Pho) [246 km] trains from 5 hours to 3 hours 30 minutes.
2) Denchai - Chiang Mai - 180 km, 30 billion baht - to be completed in 5 years since it is necessary to dig a new Khun Tan tunnel parallel to Khun Tan Tunnel and lay new track through mountain ranges. This route will shorten the running period for the route from Chiangmai to Denchai (the future junction) from 4-5 hours to 2 hours.
Note: Khun Tan tunnel (the longest railway tunnel in Thailand - with the highest railway station in Thailand at Khun Tan) was initially dug by German engineers and Chinese workers, but the rail link to Chiang Mai was finished in 1921 by Army Engineers led by Prince Purajat Jaiyakorn after German engineers became POWs after 1917.
3) Prachuab - Surat Thani - 333 km, 28.36 billion baht, to be completed in 4 years. This route will help speed up the Southern railway from Bangkok (Bangsue) to Had Yai via Prachuab Khirikhan and Surat Thani by 4 hours and 30 minutes from 18 hours to 13.5 hours, increasing the frequency of the Southern railway by 10 trips a day from the current 30 trips a day to 40 trips a day, increasing the passengers to Hua Hin (the Siamese Riviera) and Samui (dropping down at Phunphin to pick up a bus to Samui) via railways by 10,000 passengers a day, cutting down fuel bills by 300,000 baht a day due to higher efficiency of fuel consumption, carrying more cargo from the current 1.6 metric tons, more passengers from current 4.5 million passengers and more revenue from current 1.14 billion baht.
4) Mab Krabao - Nakhon Ratchasima - 130 kmm 17.08 billion baht, to be completed in 4 years.
SRT will propose these 4 double track projects to MOTC and then MOTC will set up task forces and hire a consultant to handle these double track projects. SRT insists that the construction cost per km for this double track project will be lower than the commuter lines.
For the case of the high speed railway from Bangkok (Bangsue) to Nakhon Ratchasima, SRT found that the best route is Bangkok (Bangsue) - Bang Nam Priaw (Chachoengsao) - Nakhon Nayok - Khorat with a total distance of 250 km. This route has to pass through Khao Yai National Park to shorten the route. SRT is going to hire a consultant to make an assessment on the construction cost. The old Route from Makkasan - Chachoengsao - Saraburi - Kheng Khoi - Khorat is too long.
Initially, the government refused to approve a 2004 budget to hire a consultant to handle the High Speed Railway. However, SRT will ask for 18 million baht to hire consultants to study the feasibility after the government has made a clear signal to start the project-- in the 2005 budget. The studies will cover the routes, distances, land expropriation, construction cost, construction period, and the type of High Speed Rail system -> such as
1) 160 km/hr (DESIRO) - Reaching Khorat in 1 1/2 - 2 hours
2) 250 km/hr (Mini Shinkansen - export version of Shinkansen, ICE-3) - reaching Khorat in 1 hour and 10 minute
3) 300 km/hr (TGV or Advanced Shinkansen [Nozomi], ICE-5) - Reaching Khorat in less than 1 hour.
The route that goes through Khao Yai National Park requires new technology to dug the tunnels with a need to invest 0.5 billion baht/km, thus the government needs to invest about 125 billion baht to ensure that the high speed railway system will become a reality.
Even though the financial benefits from double tracking and High Speed Railway is low (may not be worthy for investment), the economic benefit and energy savings is high enough to make serious considerations.
Furthermore, SRT has to invest on track rehabilitation in phases 4-5-6 to increase the speed
Phase 4: Thung Soing Ba Ton Don (Phatthalung) and Phitsanulok - Ban Dan (Uttaradit) - 227 km, 6 billion baht, to be completed in 5 years.
Phase 5: Khaeng Khoi - Lam Narai - Chaturat - Bua Yai Junction (228 km) and Bua Yai Junction (80 km) - Thanon Jira Junction -> total 308 km, 8.902 billion baht to be completed in 5 years.
Phase 6: Bua Yai Junction - Nongkhai -> 278 km, 8.432 billion baht to be completed in 5 years.
Total Rehabilitation - 813 km, with budget of 23.335 Billion baht
Commentary by Wisarut: Expect the confrontation with environmental activists if SRT cannot ensure that the high speed trail tracks through Khao Yai National Park will not harm the environment.
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