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
New City: How to realize it - by Pratheep Tangmatitham - translated and summarized from Bangkok Biznews, October 28, 2003
MOTC asks cabinet to repeal lift ban on railway routes through 'A1 forests' - - translated and summarized from Thaipost, October 28, 2003
MOTC is asking the cabinet to repeal the cabinet resolution that stringently prohibits bureaucrats from cutting down A1 Forests (upstream forests) to allow bureaucrats with good reason for cutting down such virgin forests to make the way for the projects vital to national interest--security and economic. And allow bureaucrats to submit environmental assessment reports to get the special approval from the cabinet on a case by case basis.
MOTC claims that the 1989 resolution has prohibited SRT from extending routes such as:
1) Surat Thani to Phuket via Phang Nga
2) Denchai to Chiang Rai and so on
3) Highspeed Railway from Bangkok to Khorat and so on
However, the cabinet said that good forests in Thailand cover less than 12% of land area. Therefore, the cabinet is asking SRT to make detours unless the project is too vital to make a detour (if it is worthy for national development). For such a special case, it will be necessary for SRT and MOTC to come up with and Environment Impact Assessment Report to be submitted to with Environmental Protection Committee before submitting the plan to the cabinet.
Commentary by Wisarut: The 1989 resolution is due to disastrous flooding in most parts of the country in 1988-1989. Furthermore, many may still remember the expansion of the SRT network to Isan during the 1950's-1970's was a scam to cut down and clear forests on mountain sides and leave a few stands to fool the authorities.
Raising 500 billion baht - October 30, 2003
Local papers have finally brought up the financing of the grand mass transit plans. As usual it is a dumbing down of what was in the Thai-language papers weeks before, but it did have one interesting passage: Chumpol Na Lamlieng, president of Siam Cement Plc, said he had no details on any plan to raise money from the public to invest in transport, but said investors would normally look for projects that yield profits.
"What we have seen so far is that most of the infrastructure projects in Thailand face financial losses," said Chumpol. "If they make a profit, it is not that much."
The State Railway of Thailand has been facing management problems and consistent losses since 1973. Those losses now total Bt40 billion.
The Bangkok Mass Transit System, or BTS, which operates the Skytrain project in Bangkok, is also facing financing losses and has been forced to negotiate debt restructuring with creditors. ($5bn transport funds trailed, The Nation, October 30, 2003)
Plan to invest 389 billion baht for mass transit in Bangkok and 111 billion baht for nationwide double tracking goes to cabinet soon - translated and summarized from Bangkokbiznews, October 28, 2003
The Traffic Policy Office is going to submit a plan to the cabinet to invest 500 billion baht on mass transit. 389 billion baht on 255.41 km for Greater Bangkok and 111 billion baht for nationwide double tracking.
For the Skytrain, extension plans are:
Total - 39.40 km
Budget - 75.820 billion baht
1.1) Onnut - Samrong (Samrong Extension Phase 1) 8.9 km - 15.190 billion baht - early 2004 to late 2006
1.2) Samrong Samut Prakarn (Samrong Extension Phase 2) 7.9 km - 13.340 billion baht - late 2004 to late 2008
1.3) Saphan Taksin - Taksin Road (Taksin Extension Phase 1) 2.2 km - 3.420 billion baht - early 2004 to late 2004
1.4) Taksin Road - Phetkasem (Taksin Extension Phase 2) 4.5 km - 7.160 billion baht - early 2004 to late 2006
1.5) Mochit - Saphan Mai (Phaholyothin Extension) 10.7 km - 19.990 billion baht - early 2004 to late 2007
1.6) National Stadium - Pinklao - Charansanitwongse (Rattnakosin Extension) 5.5 km - 16.720 billion baht - early 2004 to late 2009
For the SRT, the elevated commuter lines would be:
Total - 114.51 km
Budget - 108.1 billion baht
2.1) Phayathai - Makkasan - NBIA (Airport Link) 28.47 km - 21.2 billion baht - late 2004 to late 2551
2.2) Bangsue - Phyathai (Chitladda Link) 6.09 km - 7.8 billion baht - early 2005 to late 2009
2.3) Hua Lamphong - Bangsue (Yommaraj Link) - 7.49 km - 10.6 billion baht - early 2005 to late 2009
2.4) Bangsue - Rangsit (Northern Commuter) - 22.73 km - 26.86 billion baht - late 2005 to late 2008
2.5) Hua Lamphong - Si Phraya - Taksin Center 6.54 km (Si Phraya Link) 8.140 billion baht - early 2005 to late 2009
2.6) Taksin Center - Mahachai - 14.93 km - 28.26 km (Southwestern Commuter) 16.7 billion baht - late 2005 to late 2009
2.7) Bangsue - Rama 6 - Talingchan (Northwestern Commuter) -14.93 km - 16.8 billion baht - late 2004 to late 2008
For the case of MRTA,
Total - 101.2 km
Budget - 204.703 billion baht
3.1) Hualamphong - Tha Phra (1st phase of Southern Extension of Blue line) - 8 km 19.8 billion baht - mid 2004 to late 2009
3.2) Bangsue - Charansanitwongse - Tha Phra (blue line Northern Ring) 13.1 km - 19.83 billion baht - mid 2004 to late 2010
3.3) Tha Phra - Bang Wah (Southern Link & Interchange) 1.1 km - 2.72 billion baht - mid 2004 to late 2008
3.4) Bang Wah - Bang Kae (blue line Bangkhae Extension) 4.7 km - 7.42 billion baht - mid 2004 to late 2008
3.5) Bang Khae - Om Noy (blue line Om Noy Extension) 12.1 km 17.2 billion baht - late 2004 to late 2010
3.6) Bang Kapi - Sam Sen [Sang Hee] (1st phase Orange Line) 20 km - 44.920 km - late 2004 to late 2009
3.7) Sam Sen - Bang Bumru (Orange line Krung Thon Extension) - 3 km - 11.340 billion baht - late 2004 to late 2010
3.8) Bang Yai - Phra Nangklao (Purple Line - Former Northern Extension) - 8.1 km 11.80 billion baht - late 2004 to late 2010
3.9) Pha Nangklao - Bangsue (Purple Line - Former Northern Extension) - 11.6 km - 16.86 billion baht - late 2004 to late 2008
3.10) Bangsue - Bang Pho - Samsen (Purple line) - 3.9 km - 11.173 billion baht - late 2004 to late 2010
3.11) Samsen - Ratboorana [Nakhon Khuenkhan] - 15.6 km - 41.640 billion baht - late 2004 to late 2009
New canal and river routes - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, October 21, 2003
Suriya is asking for 15.88 million baht for the Marine Department to renovate piers, develop six canals and Chao Phraya routes, and develop a new type of boat made from fiberglass.
If the Marine Department could make a good boat service that meets safety standards, it would encourage more people who live in canal areas to use boats. If possible, MOTC will ask the Marine Department to run boat services since private concession holders do not care about safety matters at all. They are just seek profit at the expense of the passengers.
For the Saensaeb boat service run by Krobkrua Transport, the piers and the boats must be improved to meet higher safety standards and give more confidence to passengers. The public sector will initiate this project by designing a prototype boat and then the government will invite the private sector to invest in this project.
There will be 5-6 routes:
1) Sathorn - Lad Pho - Phra Padaeng - Samut Prakarn (17 km). This route will pass Lad Pho shortcut canal which will be dug wider to accommodate more boats. This route also shorten the time for those who live in Samut Prakarn can go downtown by 1 hour. Either the Chao Phraya Expressboat or the new private firm will run this boat service.
2) Sathorn - Dao Khanong (Daon Khanong Canal - canal with lots of barges - the starting point of Suksawat Road) - 4.87 km - 3.56 million baht
3) Memorial Bridge - Phetkasem 20 (Bangkok Noy - Phaseecharoen canal) - 4.86 km 4.41 million baht
4) Sathorn - Rat Boorana - Klong Toei [Customs Department] (New line of Chao Phraya Express boat) - 16 km - 6.72 million baht
5) Saensaeb boat canal improvement (Phan Fah - Wat Sri Bun Ruean)
The new prototype boats will be made of fiberglass--5-10 boats with a price of 4-5 million baht. Initially, the government will start the project. If the private sector feels interested, the Marine Department will call a new bid.
According to the advice from Golden Plan Co.Ltd and Potential Engineering Consultant Co.Ltd, there are six potential canal-river routes such as
1) Sathorn - Dao Khanong
2) Memorial Bridge - Phetkasem 20 (total for 2 routes > 10,000 passengers a day)
3) Sathorn - Klong Toei
4) Phan Fah - Wat Sri Bunruean
5) Sathorn - Lad Pho Canal
6) Lad Pho Canal - Samut Prakarn (total > 80,000 passengers a day)
Commentary by Wisarut: The Samrong Extension of Skytrain has ended any further need for Chao Phraya express boats to Sanphawut Pier (Naval Ordinance Pier, Bang Na). Only motorcycle taxis and feeder buses around that area would feed passengers to either Udomsuk or Bang NA station.
Hopefully the Paknam extension of the Skytrain will terminate not far from the pier in Paknam. This could be a feeder boat to the Skytrain. The Memorial Bridge to Phetkasem 20 route could feed the Memorial Bridge Station of MRTA.
Dao Khanong pier and Daokhanong station of future Subway should not be far away from each other.
Even though Saen Saeb canal boat piers are not far from the Skytrain and Subway stations (National Stadium, Phetburi), the facilities must be improved so as to function as feeders.
[Notice how this canal plan conflicts with the recently proposed mass transit routes.] BMA will need to redesign the future Rattankosin extension so as not to block Saensaeb canal boat service.
Expanding the canal and Chao Phraya boat network - translated and summarized from Matichon Daily, October 18, 2003
MOTC Minister has asked the Deputy Director of the Marine Department about the plan to extend the Chao Phraya Express Boat as well as the longtail boats along the canals. MOTC also asks for new prototypes for canal boats and the Chao Phraya Express Boat.
MOTC also aims for a Chao Phraya Express Boat to Samut Prakarn. However the initial routes will be shorter. The list of the routes will be:
1) Sathon-Dao Khanong - 4.87 km
2) Memorial Bridge-Phetkasem 20 (Phaseecharoen)
3) Sathon-Klong Toei (Custom Department) - 16 km -> the first phase of the Chao Phraya Express Boat expansion to Samut Prakarn
4) Saensaeb Canal - 17 km
Commentary by Wisarut: MOTC aims to take over the BMA-consessioned Saensaeb canal boat.
The new Chao Phraya boat line from Sathorn to Klong Toei will help in picking up passengers not covered by either Skytrain or Subway. The new boat line from Sathorn to Dao Khanong is pretty short--it is uncertain how many passengers it could pick up.
500 billion baht mass transit system to be complete in six years - translated and summarized from Thairath, October 16, 2003
The Traffic Policy Office said the following mass transit lines with a total distance of 255 km should be completed in six years:
1) BMA - BTSC Skytrain network - 39.70 km, 75.86 billion baht to be done in 1-6 years
1.1) Onnut - Samrong (Samrong Extension) - to be done in December 2006
1.2) Samrong - Samut Prakarn (Paknam Extension - AKA Samrong Extension Phase 2) -> by popular demand
1.3) Saphan Taksin - Taksin Road (Taksin Extension) - to be done in December 2004
1.4) Taksin Road - Phetkasem (Phekasem Extension - AKA Taksin Extension Phase 2)
1.5) Mochit - Saphan Mai (Phaholyothin Extension) -> by popular demands, but the giant water pipeline must be moved to another place and the demolition of the Senanikom flyover is needed
1.6) National Stadium - Rama I Road - Sanam Luang - Pinklao - Charansanitwongse (Ratthanakosin Extension)
2) MRTA - BMCL subway network
2.1) Blue Line Network - 39 km - 66.97 billion baht to be done in 5-7 years
2.1.1) Hua Lamphong - Tha Phra (Underground Section of Southern Extension)
2.1.2) Bangsue - Tha Phra (Northern Ring)
2.1.3) Tha Phra - Bang Wah (The Elevated Connection with Interchange with Skytrain)
2.1.4) Bang Wah - Bang Kae (Kanchanaphisek Link of Southern Extension)
2.1.5) Bang Khae - Om Noy (Further Southern Extension)
2.2) Orange Line - 23 km - 56.260 billion baht
2.2.1) Bangkapi - Thai Cultural Center - Victory Monument - Samsen [Sang Hee]
2.2.2) Samsen [Sang Hee] - Krungthon Bridge - Bang Bamru Railway Station (Krung Thon Extension)
2.3) Purple Line Network - 39.2 km - 81.473 billion baht
2.3.1) Bang Yai - Phra Nang Klao [Bang Yai Extension]
2.3.2) Phra Nangklao - Bangsue [former Northern Extension of Blue Line Subway]
2.3.3) Bangsue - Samsen [The underground section of former Purple Line]
2.3.4) Samsen - Ratboorana (Nakhon Khuenkhan Intersection) [former middle and Southern
section of Orange Line]
3) SRT - 114.51 km Red Line Network - 108.1 Billion Baht - to be done in 5 years
3.1) Phyathai - Makkasan - Phetburi - NBIA (Airport Train)
3.2) Bangsue - Phayathi (Chitladda Link)
3.3) Hua Lamphong - Bangsue (Share Track with Chitladda Link)
3.4) Bangsue - Rangsit (Northern Commuter)
3.5) Hualamphong - Si Phraya - Wongwian Yai - Taksin Center (Southern Link)
3.6) Taksin Center - Mahachai (Mahachai Extension)
3.7) Bangsue - Talingchan (Rama 6 Extension)
Furthermore, a 100 billion baht nationwide double tracking project is proposed.
The Traffic Office will submit the plan to the cabinet on October 22, 2003 before getting final approval from Premier Thaksin.
Commentary by Wisarut: Too bad the Northern Section of the former Purple line (Taopoon - Prachachuen - Maungthongthani - Pakkret) is not included in the MRTA Purple network. Relying on feeder buses and feeder vans along Prachachuen Road and expressway may not be enough.
Nationwide double tracking is very good deal .... and the nationwide new excise tax on fuel and vehicle license plates will be reasonable if the 100-billion baht double tracking project is included.
The overall mass transit project requires massive money and effort as well as excellent management to ensure that all will be finished on time - an effort on par with building after the collapse of Ayutthaya, the wreckage after WWII, and revitalization after financial meltdown of 1997.
Foreign investment to set up the local assembly lines to handle the rolling stocks (Skytrain - Subway - Commuters and Airport Train) as well as the restructuring of relating agencies should be mandatory.
I hope that the further lines such as Bangkapi - Minburi (Minburi Extension of Orange line), Nakhon Khuenkhan - Samrong Tai (Phra Padaeng extension of Purple line Network), Pakkret - Muangthong Thani - Bangsue (Pakkret Extension of Purple line Network), and Yellow Line (Lad Phrao - Sri Nakharin - Samrong) will be implemented to complete the network.
I also hope that the savings from the Wayuphak Mutual Funds will go into the project without being siphoned into the pockets of contractors and politicians. After all, many politicians used to work as contractors before entering into politics. Mr. Banharn (Mr. Midget or Deng Siaw Harn - the head of Chatchai Party) is a good example of a contractor-turned politician.
The bidding forms for the Southern Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road are purchased by two contractors. The project will have a total distance of 22.49 km and a price tag of 16 billion baht. The bidding will be called on December 15, 2003 and the qualified contractors will be declared on December 16, 2003.
The Mall Group keen on SRT land for Megaprojects - translated and summarized from Thansetthakij, October 16-18, 2003
The Mall Group PCL told the press that they definitely going to aim for three megaproject malls -> Makkasan Airport Link, MRTA Subway, and Suvannabhum Airport Mall. The Mall Group is going to invest 500 million baht to make a face lift on the Emporium, The Mall Bang Kapi and The Mall Ngam Wongwan. Furthermore, the Siam Paragon Group (Subsidiary of The Mall) is investing 30 million baht to turn Bangkok into a city of Fashion on par with Milan and Paris.
At Makkasan, the Airport Link Mall will be on the 80-rai of the old housing and Railway Hospital for SRT workers. The new Mall at NBIA will a duty free mall inside the NBIA. However the Mall will make such a move only after finishing the Siam Paragon.
The Mall Group forecasts 28 billion baht revenue--an increase from 25 billion baht in the previous year with 10% Growth. If there is no economic recession or other disaster, the Mall Group projects to grow 15-20%.
The plan for the next year (2004) is to make a 500 million baht investment for a comprehensive facelift of the Emporium with a new parking lot which can hold 500 more cars. Furthermore, the Mall is going to add other 5 mini-cinema rooms for the SF Cinema at The Mall Ngam Wongwan, and make a facelift of The Mall Bang Kapi to become a Flagship Store and add other 5 mini-cinema rooms for the SF Cinema. [BTW, The Mall Bang Kapi is a big magnet of those who live in Bang Kapi area - with a van hub, bus terminal and Saensabe canal boat.]
The Mall Group, Siam Discovery Center Siam Center and Siam Paragon will invest 30 million baht on the "Bangkok Fashion City Extravaganza" Project (7-Day Fashion Show in February 2004) as the way to turn Bangkok into a major fashion hub like Milan and Paris complying with government policy. It will also start the current of creating a Shopping Street from Pathumwan to Asok/Sukhumvit. This project in February 2004 will have 80-100 world-class brandname products as well as local brand names.
Suriya aiming to use 23 billion baht Wayuphak Funds for the airport link insisting that Premier Thaksin supports the project - translated and summarized from Matichon Daily, October 15, 2003
Suriya is aiming to pull 23 billion baht from Wayuphak Funds to construct the airport train and claiming that Premier Thaksin is supporting this project. He hopes that the annual revenue will be 1.46 billion baht--break even and get paid back easily. Even if the Ministry of Finance is standing in the way to oppose this scheme, he will push this project at all costs.
The Director of Public Debt Management told Ministry Suriya about the funding plan for Southern Kanchanaphisek Road and that there are two contractors who purchase the bidding forms.
On October 13, Minister Suriya Juengrungrueangkij told the press about the plan to invest 900 billion baht on public transportation and that Premier Thaksin asked to use Wayuphak Funds to invest in this project - but a discussion between the agencies related to public transportation is needed to come up with details for funding the project.
Premier Thaksin and Minister Suriya said funding the 900-billion baht project by Wayuphak funds is a good deal since it will not increase the national debt and there is no need for foreign loans with strings attached, just simply use the saving deposits which now literally flood local banks with trillions of baht.
The initial phase of the airport train will start from Makkasan to NBIA with a price tag of 23 billion baht with funding by Wayuphak funds with the 4% return to the people who buy Wayuphak mutual funds. The estimated daily customers will be 20,000 and the ticket price for the express will be 200 baht--4 million baht daily revenue and 1.46 billion baht annual revenue. The concession will be 30 years, thus the total revenue will be 43.8 billion baht, easily paying back the mutual funds.
If the Ministry of Finance refuses to allow MOTC to dip into the Wayuphak funds, he will explain that MOF does not know the project details since the Traffic Policy Office has not finished the final plan yet. If MOF still refuses to fund the project, he will ask Premier Thaksin to apply his executive power to force MOF to finance the project at all costs!
Pannee Sathawarodom (Director of Public Debt Management Dept, MOF) said the financial plan for such mammoth projects (900 billion baht) requires (1) loans from financial markets, (2) privatization of MRTA, SRT, and MEA, and (3) Wayuphak funds. However, MOF will wait and see the final plan for the mass transit project before making a decision as to whether MOF will allow MOTC to use Wayuphak funds, and it will take MOF at least six months to make such a decision.
The funding scheme for this transportation project will come from petroleum and energy conservation funds collected from excise tax of fuel by changing the main propose from the funds from fuel subsidies to a fund for joint investment funds since the new transportation systems must support energy conservation and encourage the efficient consumption of fuel and energy. The other financial source will come from people selling the investment units (mutual funds) just like Wayuphak 1 - with a new Mutual Fund exclusively for transportation affairs. This new transportation funds will save lots of money and will not cause a debt burden.
Isan CEO governors ask SRT for high speed railway expansion to Ubon - translated and summarized from Thansetthakij, October 12-15, 2003
After CEO governors started working on October 1, 2003, the Southern Isan governors from Si Saket, Yasothon, Amnart Charoen and Ubon Ratchathanee have come with a plan to lift southern Isan from abject poverty to prosperity.
One of the projects is the expansion of the High Speed Railway from Khorat to Ubon Ratchathanee since Ubon Ratchathanee is 300 km from Khorat. This High Speed Railway will help link the tourist business in the 'Emerald Triangle' (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia) with Ubon Ratchathanee as the center for this link.
Commentary by Wisarut: Very good idea since the total distance between Bangkok and Ubon Ratchathanee by rail is about 575 km (compare to Tokaido Shinkansen -> 515 km from Tokyo to Osaka). However, SRT has to set up a subsidiary as well as a concession holder who would run the subsidiary to handle such a mammoth project which requires state-of-the-art technology and future expansions. Now, even country folks are demanding a High Speed Railway. However, profitable lines will come first!
Traffic Policy Office is pushing the seven lines of electrified mass transit system with a price tag of 500 billion baht to be done in 6 years [incredible!] to boost the number of mass transit passengers from 3% to more than 30%. Another 400 billion baht will be used for the motorway and the suburb road expansion.
Of the 500 billion baht budget, 350 billion baht was allocated for the rails in urban areas while the other 150 billion baht is for the rails in suburb areas.
Government will fund 50% of 900 billion baht while the rest will come from the profits after breaking even as a way to pay back the government.
The Traffic Policy Office recommended that agencies that have lots of problems have to be resolved before realizing the projects:
1) BMA has a problem about procurement to support BTSC.
2) MRTA has lots of work handling the Southern extension, the other extensions, the new Orange line, and the commercial development
3) SRT is VERY weak organization with inept administration and management.
The government will need to help all of these agencies to enable and empower them to handle the projects without problems. Furthermore, it is necessary to construct an electrified railway line with double tracks between Bangkok and the new city in Nakhon Nayok.
The seven lines will be as follows:
1) MRTA Blue line
1.1) MRTA Southern Extension of Blue line- Hua Lamphong - Tha Phra - Bangkhae -> Ready to call a new bid.
1.2) MRTA Northern Extension of Blue line - Bangsue - Wong Sawang - Phra Nangklao - Bang Yai -> Has a blueprint.
1.3) MRTA Northern Ring - Bagsue - Banplad - Pinklao - Tha Phra -> Need to modify the blueprint to correct 'errors.'
2) MRTA Orange Line - Bang Kapi - Ratboorana -> Has a blueprint.
3) SRT Red line
3.1) SRT Airprot Link -> Makkasan - NBIA with the expansion plan to Bangsue and connect with SRT Red line commuter
3.2) SRT Red Line Commuter -> Bangsue - Rangsit with a plan to expand to Lopburi
3.3) SRT Red Line Commuter Phase 2 -> Bangsue - Talingchan (along with Rama 6 Expressway)
3.3) SRT Red line Commuter Phase 3 [not sure if it the same as the High Speed Railway to Khorat - but very related to Bangsue - Nakhon Nayok)
4) [BTSC-MRTA] Sanam Luang - Charansanitwongse (Green line)
5) [MRTA] Bangsue - Sanghee - Bang Bumru (Orange line branch)
6) BTSC Taksin Extension (1st phase to Taksin Intersection and 2nd phase to Bang Wah and connect with the Blue line)
7) BTSC Samrong extension (1st phase to Samrong Tai and 2nd phase to Paknam)
Now there are four consulting companies which are qualified to deal with the Red line commuter -
1) Asian Engineering Consultant Co. Ltd.
2) Team consulting Engineering and Management Co. Ltd.
3) STS Engineering Consultant Co. Ltd.
4) Southeast Asia Technology Co. Ltd.
Commentary by Wisarut: MOTC need to find the way to enable SRT to handle such massive projects in addition to the transfer of SRT land to the Treasury Dept.
The Traffic Policy Office should take the popular demands into account - such as the demands from those who live in Northern Bangkok suburbs to have the new lines pass thorough the very dense population as the lines that pass through the magnet places (e.g. Markets, Convention Centers, Universities, Malls, etc.) to gain more passengers. They should not just be thinking about the routes with the lowest cost to implement.
Expansion of Northern Commuter to Lopburi is a good idea. After all it is about 133 km from Bangkok (Hua Lamphong) to Lopburi and there are daily commuter services between Bangkok and Lopburi. Commuter lines to Nong Pladuk, Chachoengsao, and Kaeng Khoi would be very good.
Expressway Authority not ready for the transfer of the tollway-motorway system from the Highway Dept. - translated and summarized from Dailynews, October 13, 2003
The Highway Department has sent a letter to the Expressway Authority of Thailand on May 29, 2003 related to the Southern section of Kanchanapisek (Bang Plee - Suksawat) as well as the transfer of the following motorways to the Expressway Authority:
1) Highway No. 7 (Bangkok - Chonburi Motorway)
2) Highway No. 9 (Eastern Kanchanapisek Outer Ring Road -> Bang Pa In - Bang Plee)
3) Donmuang Tollway (National Memorial - Rangsit)
However, ETA is not ready to take over the motorways until the end of 2003.
The government has a clear policy to transfer all tollways and motorways to be under the jurisdiction of the Expressway Authority as a way to cut corruption at the Highway Dept. However, there is red tape due to contracts between Donmuang Tollway and the Highway Department as well as other relating issues. Such problems require usage of the Transfer of Motorway Administration Act and will take a very long time to implement. Using a Motorway Administration Decree is a quicker substitute. The transfer is intended to reduce corruption and increase highway system integration.
Compare this to a more generalized article in the Post: Motorway transfers make slow progress
SRT land to be transferred to the Treasury Dept to write off 40 billion baht SRT debts - translated and summarized from Thairath Daily, October 13, 2003
Minister Suriya told the press that the government has a policy to ask the Treasury Department to set up an asset management company to efficiently manage public land including SRT land since SRT has no management skills to handle the commercial development on SRT land. Only the land for railway affairs will under the the jurisdiction of SRT.
The Treasury Department must handle all commercial worthy SRT land, not just the auspicious land such as Central Plaza Lad Phrao--otherwise SRT will refuse to grant the land to Treasury Department.
SRT will reserve land at Makkasan and Phaholyothin-Bangsue for itself since SRT has a plan supported by the government to construct the new Makkasan Station for the Airport Link and the new Bangsue-Phaholyothin Station for the urban railway center.
SRT land at Ratchadaphisek Inner Ring Road will be given away to the Treasury Department, but the Treasury Department has to pay SRT according to market rates; otherwise, Treasury Department has to ask the Ministry of Finance to use the land price at Ratchadaphisek as the credit to write off SRT's debts of 40-billion baht. However, SRT will cooperate with the Ministry of Finance to deal on the land price assessment by submitting details on SRT land which will be done by the end of October and then call a bid for the land assessment.
The transfer of SRT land will involve land zoning between SRT land with commercial viability and land belonging to stations. The first phase of land transfer will focus on auspicious land with the contract between SRT and private firms such as Central Plaza Lad Phrao and the land around Ratchadaphisek Inner Ring Road.
However, the vast majority of SRT land is still plagued with land encroachment by slum dwellers (e.g. those who live around Eastern Railway from Yommaraj to Hua Mark and Klong Toei). SRT will have to make a discussion with NHA and the Treasury Department about a plan to deal with those slum dwellers.
After transferring the SRT land (except Makkasan and Bangsue-Phaholyothin), SRT will be focusing on revenue generating from the railway business--especially the cargo transportation.
Commentary by Wisarut: I hope that the land transfer to Treasury Department will be a successful deal to write off SRT debts. Probably, SRT should consider transforming debts into assets by allowing creditors such as PTT Pcl. to hold SRT stocks.
Suriya follows the pattern of China Railway and JR to develop SRT - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, October 7, 2003
Minister Suriya told the press that SRT has to improve railway capabilities to transport products and passengers and is asking the Japanese government (Ministry of Transportation) to send railway experts to advise SRT about how to improve railway systems. Minister Suriya is also going to Japan in late October to see the managing system and the railway development as well as rail links to the airports (Narita Express, Keisei Skyliner, etc etc).
After that, Minister Suriya is going to see railway technology developed China Railway (State Enterprise Under the Jurisdiction of the Railway Ministry) as well as the Australian Railway to gather information to come up with a plan for optimal investment to improve the SRT railway system and enable SRT top become a money maker again.
To gain more revenue, the central government has to invest on SRT more. According to the target, the speed for the passenger train must be more than 160 kph. If SRT still uses the current structure which allows a maximum speed of 60-80 kph, it will bankrupt the SRT within 5 years.
Therefore, the new tracks for passengers - especially the one connecting with China should be the Standard Gauge [1.4351 m - 4 feet and 8.5 inches] and the old meter gauge tracks will be used exclusively for cargo transportation.
However, the government needs to come up with a good plan before making such a huge investment. Otherwise, it will duplicate the investment - SRT will still be loss-ridden even after pouring trillions of baht of investment into new bad rail systems.
SRT still has a duty to lay the track nationwide while MRTA will handle all the mass transit system within Greater Bangkok with private concessions for service and public investment on basic infrastructure.
MOTC also studies the maintenance system and technology for developing local versions of locomotives as a way to make the comprehensive railway improvement. Furthermore, the government will invite the foreign investors who are experts on railway systems to make a joint venture with the Thai government to improve the railway system--with competitive bidding. So far Siemens has grabbed BTSC Skytrain and MRTA Subway in their portfolio. However, MOTC wants more choices from Canadian Bombadier (which has taken over the German Adranz), the Chain Railway Corp. (state enterprise from the Ministry of Railway), and railways companies from Japan and Australia.
Commentary by Wisarut: Additional standard gauge tracks with continuous welding rails are very expensive.
High society hoarding land around ramps of the proposed elevated way - translated and summarized from Prachachart Thurakij, October 9-12, 2003
[Again: Try finding any mention of something like this in the local English-language papers!]
Charoen Siriwatthanaphakdee (the owner of Beer Chang), Angkinan (the baron or the don of Phetburi), the Juengrungruengkit family (Transportation Minister Suriya's family), Red Bull Group, and San Yang Food Industry Co. Ltd. (the owner of Ladybug Dried Squid) are hoarding land around the ramps of the Laem Phak Bia [the elevated way over the sea]. The area on the sea shore is now 8 million baht a rai. Now most locals people agree that the project will be good for them. However, conflicts of interest as well as untransparent methods will be a big source of corruption and collusion.
The Laem Phak Bia project proposed by Premier Thaksin has boosted the land development plan from Laem Phak Bia Commune in Ban Laem district to Cha Am district of Phetburi from the doldrums after the economic meltdown in 1997. 90% of local people are fishermen and the shrimp and the salt fields belong to the Angkinan family (the don of Phetburi). Now the Angkinan family has made a joint venture with Charoen Siriwatthanaphakdee (the owner of Beer Chang) on a seafood processing plant as well as a resort and seafood restaurants on 1600 rai of land long the shore.
The commune head as well as the local fishermen support this project. 20 years ago, the land was 30,000 baht/rai. Today it is eight million baht/rai.
Even Samut Sakhon is getting stampeded by capitalists who come to hoard the land along the route. People of Samut Sakhon have no objection to this project, but need to have the project transparent to prevent corruption and collusion. Now people feel suspect about the project since Prapokklao Institute asks the local people to come up with a public hearing even though the institute has the duty to handle the public hearing.
The Samut Sakhon chamber of commerce has become a supporter of the project since they can set up the business to support passengers. Only those Democrat MPs in Phetburi come to protest against the project and have flaming venom against the Thai Rak Thai Party.
Commentary by Wisarut: Mr Charoen is also hoarding land around Ban Nah for the new city while those who hoard land around Sanamchaikhet such as the Tancharoen family (family of Deputy Speaker Suchard Tancharoen) wants to revive the new city at Sanamchaikhet. The other new city area is around Pasak Cholasit Dam where the land is hoarded by the House Speaker Uthai's family. [More about this: Muang Sawan project (Celestial City Project) at Ban Nah - translated and summarized from Naew Nah, September 30, 2003]
The total length of roads in Shanghai is about 6829 km for 1.6 million cars, 9 million bicycles, and 2 millions drivers with driver licenses. Their roads have very few potholes.
Shanghai has two sides separated by the Haung Pu river--Shanghai and Pu Dong. Putong side is a new city with very good planning. All the power lines are underground. All waterworks and electricity lines are planned and executed at the same time.
For the buses, the air-conditioned bus is 15-20 baht and very close to the Shanghai Metro system. The regular bus is 7.50 baht. All the buses we have seen in Shanghai look pretty news since the local authority has limited the lifetime of those vehicles to 10 years. Replacement is not a problem since 80% of the vehicles are made in China [either local brands or licensed versions from automobile giants], thus the air in Shanghai is less polluted than Bangkok.
Just the expressways in Shanghai alone are 500 km and there is a ring expressway which allows traffic to move from one end of the city to another without going through the city center. Even Hangchow which is a main tourist town near Shanghai has 164 km of expressways. The city section of the expressways is free. Drivers will pay only for the Intercity Expressway [Motorway].
There are four giant bridges across the Huang Pu with 12 traffic lanes. There are 3 underwater tunnels under the river. One tunnel with a People Mover (15 people at a time) and the other two are for cars--1 inbound and the other outbound.
For the Shanghai Metro, it consists of both underground and elevated skytrains as well as a Meglev from Pu Tong International Airport to Shanghai Metro Line 2. However, the ticket price for the Maglev is very expensive--500 baht a trip due to the fact that the expense for the construction was 1.7 billion baht/km. Shanghai Metro [3 lines] was constructed in 1996 with a total distance of 100 km.
At People Square Station, the first underground floor [Ticket purchasing floor] is definitely a mini department store with a bar beer with a climate of the Bund. The TVMs are identical to the ones for BTSC due to the fact that Siemens has supplied Shanghai Metro with TVMs and rolling stock - as well as setting up local assembly lines.
The 2nd floor is the platform. It is an open platform without screen doors. For now, there are no restrooms in the stations, but the restrooms will be constructed soon due to passenger demands. They will be vending restrooms (need to put the coins in).
According to the masterplan, Shanghai will have 9 mass transit lines with total distance of 500 km
by the end of 2007 to enable passengers to go from one end to another end in 45 minutes.
We believe that the Shanghai government can do as they say since they have an assembly line ready to construct the licensed rolling stocks to meet passenger demand. Nanjing Road and Shenyang market in Shanghai have trolley buses running as feeders.
For Shanghai, even a slight traffic jam is very big news and pushes both local and the central government to take immediate action such as limited days for driving, odd/even number license plate driving rules, restrictions for vehicles from other cities.
Purchasing a car in Shanghai is a very expensive affair. Just the license plate alone is 200,000 baht and the annual compulsory checkups cost 50,000 baht. After 10 years, drivers have to buy a new car and obtain a new license.
Drivers licenses carry a point system for checking. Once a driver runs out of points there is a three year suspension from driving. No lifetime driver license here.
The only mess we see are bicycles and cars going across red lights, going against traffic flow, honking horns, etc.
There are no flyovers in Shanghai--only crossings with pedestrians and armies of bicycles. There are only traffic volunteers to direct. 800 CCTVs to check 6000 intersections so that they will have evidence to issue tickets that are delivered to their home by mail.
The Communist Party of China has emphasized railed mass transit and use their absolute power to implement the system while allowing foreign investors to help the government and people to get know-how to implement the system to world standards. There is no need to implement public hearings and protests (like in Thailand) which please highbrow and rotten intellectuals and delay the projects for years.
At least Premier Thaksin has come up with 136 km of mass transit system in 6 years for the better life of Bangkokians. We are fed up with those arguments against it. Just DO it--no need to listen those highbrow rotten junk...
Land speculation in Pakkret-Nonthaburi--even vacant land is now 7 million baht/rai - translated and summarized from Prachachart Turakij, October 2-5, 2003
Contractors and land agents are scrambling for land near expropriated land for the Pakkret Bridge connecting with Highway 345 (the road from Rama 5 Bridge-Ratnathibet). Even though the project is not started yet, land prices skyrocketed from 2000-3000 baht/square wah (0.8-1.2 million baht/rai) to 5-7 million baht/rai.
The Department of Rural Roads has just signed a 3 billion baht contract with the contractor for the Pakkret Bridge and the connecting roads Capitalists, land agents, and contractors are hoarding land around the roads for real estate speculation.
Graphic from Prachachart Turakij, October 2-5, 2003
There are lots of people involved in land speculation even though the land is still paddy fields and orchards. The plan to construct the new public projects will get a big boost now the land around Rama 5 Bridge has been priced upward and new suburb villages have mushroomed--especially the brandname projects (from big guns like Land and House PCL).
The Director of Rural Road Dept said the Department has already expropriated all the land for the new bridges and roads and signed a contract with the contractors for the 3 billion baht Pakkret Project on September 29, 2003--after JBIC granted the loan and the cabinet approved the project on September 23, 2003. The project fund has been capped at 3 billion baht and the project will be done in 2006.
After project is done, it will help the traffic in western and southern Bangkok since this project will definitely connect with Rama 5 Bridge at Rattanathebet and Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road. The traffic around Tiwanon and Chaeng Watthana Road will also get some relief since vehicles will get to Nuanchawee Bridge faster boosting the network at Rama 5 Bridge [AKA Nakhon In Bridge].
The southern section of the new project will connect with the northern end of Nakhon In Bridge at Rattnathibet. The northern end of the new project will be at Highway 345 with a total distance of 7.7 km. The road will be 60 km long--6 traffic lanes with a middle island. There will be an interchange at Highway 345 and the Phra Udom Canal [the East-West and North-South Section].
The East-West Road will go from Chaeng Watthana Road at Pakkret Intersection [5-limb Star Intersection] connecting with North-South Road with a total distance of 6.1 km. The road will be 60 km long--6 traffic lanes with a middle island. The East-West road will have a 2.6-km bridge--56-meters wide for the western and eastern ramp and 94-meter wide at the center of the bridge.
Commentary by Wisarut: This project will need to be ensure that it will be no detrimental effect on Koh Kret--the green island in Chaophraya River with a Mon Community and with a leaning Raman Pagoda with the inscription of King Chulalongkorn for his great grand mother who used to reside in Koh Kret.
Also Wat Kooh, a temple near the place where a tragedy happened in May 1880. A boat capsized at Pakkret had killed the pregnant Queen Sunsdakumarirat and her daughter. This tragedy compelled King Chulalongkorn to build a memorial at Bang Pa In Summer Palace, the stupa at Saranrom Palace (now Sararom Park near the Grand Palace and Wat Poh), and a pyramid containing the ashes of the queen and her children at Phriew Waterfall, Chanthaburi.
13 billion baht needed for realizing a northern transportation center - translated and summarized from Dailynews, September 29, 2003
After a discussion with the PM on September 10 about mass transit development, the Traffic Policy Office has asked MRTA and related agencies about the plan to reach a goal of 136 km mass transit lines [including 115 commuter lines] within 6 years. For sections that MRTA has a blueprint, the bidding should be called immediately. The lines without blueprints will have to be designed as soon as possible.
For the Northern Bangkok Transportation Center connecting Bangkok with the northern and Isan regions as well as some Central and Eastern provinces, it will be on 2000-Rai of SRT land which is now used by the Transportation Co. Ltd. for Mochit 2 and BMTA as a terminal. The designer will be appointed on October 6, 2003 and the Traffic Policy Office will push the project forward to be done in 3 years.
Commentary by Wisarut: I hope that this hub will connect with the Skytrain and subway in addition to the railway.
Songkhla Lake restoration--Elevated road to be first project - Bangkok Post, October 3, 2003
700-million-baht elevated road bypassing Thale Noi in Khuan Khanun district will be the first project under the four-year Songkhla Lake restoration plan.
"The 17.5km road would ease transportation between Songkhla's Ranot district and Phatthalung's Khuan Khanun district,'' Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said during a trip to the area yesterday...
The new route, to be known as Pracha Dhamma road, will shorten the journey from 90km to 30km.
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