Master Plan News 2004

MASTER PLAN NEWS 2004 March-July
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

What are the real costs of taking over the Skytrain-Subway? - translated and summarized from Thaipost, July 19, 2004
Minister Suriya told the press that "KfW is going to cut 45% of debt in exchange for 22 billion baht debt payment as well as the fine for BTSC due to the debt delinquencies paid by the government. After that, we are going to ask the committee to convince the shareholders that it is the government's good intention to help the company out of debts--thus selling more stock to the government is a good exchange for this bailout."
Even if BTSC agrees to allow such a takeover, we are not so sure how much it actually costs. The purchase of BMCL debts and stocks is another headache even though BMCL has only 11.15 billion baht debt and 1 billion baht in commercial debts. The average price of stock sold to the government is 2.5 baht/share even though the government would like to spend only 2 baht/share.
Even if the government could settle the deals, we have no idea where the government will find the money for paying the private sector. We have no clue if the revenue will cover the expense. We still doubt whether the services will be improved or if tickets prices will fall down or otherwise.
So far the Traffic Policy Office want to integrate the system into a single operator first. Now, we have a strong government so such integration is possible and it will save upcoming costs if they still keep the system into separated operators. Even with the single operator, the government might allow BTSC and BMCL to be partners in the operators.
Furthermore, they have to separate the cost center and profit center out so that the government could minimize the cost center while allowing profit center to invest in the stock markets. The fuel funds along with the management of ST land will help fund the project. The preliminary report has been sent to the Ministry of Finance. Furthermore MOTC and MoF have to understand each other so as to allocate and manage the budget to maximize the benefits.
The government also is running out of patience on the Thanayong debt settlement which is not settled at all. If Thanayong could actually settle the debts, that would be great.
So far, even the Traffic Policy Office is puzzled about Premier Thaksin's and Suriya's Plan to set up Utility Funds. Nevertheless, the Traffic Policy Offices hope that all will be done by the end of 2004.
The committee that is going to take over BTSC and BMCL feel that it is much harder to convince BTSC than BMCL to allow the government takeover. Even the committee would like to see how BTSC is going negotiate with the creditors. The committee still have no clue about the budgets for this takeover.

Suriya sets up negotiation committee to deal with the nationalization of Subway-Skytrain - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, July 1, 2004
MOTC is appointing the Deputy Permanent Secretary (MOF) to handle the nationalization and allocation of 4% more of the National Budget to invest in a massive expansion of the mass transit system.
MOTC has appointed the Deputy Permanent Secretary (MOF) and representatives from the Supreme Attorney Agency to negotiate with BTSC and BMCL about the nationalization plan. The settlement on BTSC in come in the next two months and BMCL in the next year--with the results reporting directly to MOTC.
So far, KfW agrees to cut down 40% of BTSC debt and the plans to purchase BTSC stocks.
For the capitalization plan for massive expansion of the mass transit system, MOTC will discuss with MOF about this issue. So far, MOTC is going to ask the Budget Bureau to allocate 10% of the trillion baht national budget to MOTC which can be done immediately since MOTC has been restricted from asking for more than 6% of the national budget since 1998. Now, the economic is back on its feet, thus a 10% budget for transportation can be resumed.

Experts warning Skytrain-Subway expansion alone will not work despite strong support from the public and private sectors - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, July 3, 2004
Even though Premier Thaksin is going to fulfill the wish of His Majesty by making a massive expansion of the Skytrian-subway system--with both public and private support as well as through nationalization of BMCL and BTSC, experts warned that unless Premier Thaksin has come up with the policy to discourage the use of private cars, Bangkokians will find that they can walk faster than drive in the next 10 years.
Experts also point out that the percentage of roads in Bangkok is 10%, comparable with 11% in Paris and 13% in Tokyo or Munich - thus the complaints about the lack of roads are big lies (unless such complaints come from those who live in blindspots).
Even worse, experts found that Bangkokians have use private car for 55% of trips while public transport covers 45%. The ratio between private cars to public transport would be 66:34 in 2021. On the other hand those pinoy in Manila ride private cars only 12% while the other 88% is public transport. Therefore the speed will be cut down from 5-6 kph in 2001 to 3 kph in 2011 and 2 kph in 2021.
Poor public transport service is definitely one of the big sources of traffic jams in Bangkok--50 minutes in private car cover the same distance as 70 minutes in public transport.
Even worse, transportation has gobbled 98% of gasoline consumption and 77% of diesel consumption and is a big source of noise and air pollution.
The bureaucraticism between related agencies also complicates traffic problems. Even though the government pledged to add 100 km of subway, the will not be able to solve the problems since they encourage more car usage by adding 1000 km of new roads--a sign of hypocrisy indeed!
The government should have more courage to impose taxes on those who go into the CBD (Central Business District) area, hike auto taxes, and levy a tax on car parks and speed up the bus services.

Traffic Policy Office coming up with three formulas to finance the 400 billion baht mass transit projects - translated and summarized by from Bangkok Biznews, June 22, 2004
The Traffic Policy Office is coming up with three formulas to finance the 440 billion baht mass transit projects to be delivered to Minister Suriya on June 25 and the office is pushing hard for MRTA to be the major holding company to run the system. Three plans are:
1. Levy more excise tax on fuel to finance Transportation Funds.
2. Raise the automobile license tax
3. New transportation bonds
However, this 440 billion baht does not include financial costs yet. Therefore, the Traffic Policy Office is going to discuss with the Budget Bureau and Ministry of Finance about the investment plan which can be separated into 2 parts:
1) Basic Infrastructure - 67-70% (about 280-300 billion baht) from the annual budget, domestic loan and foreign loans such as JBIC and ADB along with fuel funds. This will pay for the design and construction as well as land expropriation.
2) Rolling stock - 30-33%- Needs a joint venture company to run the systems with MRTA as the main company and then offer an IPO to raise the capital to 50 billion baht. MRTA can hire the private sector to deal with services but MRTA will monitor the private sector so that they will keep services up to standard with the revenue belonging to MRTA.
There are six ways to get the public financial resources under consideration:
1. Annual budget
2. Mass Transit Development Fund from oil taxes, the license plate tax, and other taxes and fees relating to transportation
3. Government bonds
4. Domestic loans
5. International loans with low costs (e.g. JBIC, ADB)
6. New mutual funds (investment funds) like Wayuphak 1
So far, the government can allocate up to 20-40 billion baht within 6 years from the national budget since the government has financial constrains to control the public debts within 60% of GDP.
The new mutual fund like Wayuphak Funds is a new alternative since the funds are a separate legal entity, thus not becoming a burden to the government and no direct consequence on public debts. However, Wayuphak funds are not very popular. The 70 billion baht Wayuphak fund has been purchased only up to 18 billion baht. The other 52 billion has to be purchased by financial institutes. Wayuphak 2 for transportation has more risk because of lack of diversity while the rates are just 1% higher than Wayuphak 1.
However, team consultants are asking the government to raise fuel taxes for the gas stations and raise more levies on automobile licenses and plates within Bangkok and vicinity to finance the transportation funds to cut down the risk of unsuccessful Wayuphak funds 2 for transportation.
Commentary by Wisarut: I hope that the vested interests will not ruin the plan. Better add heavy industries relating to mass transit system as well as telecom business into Wayuphak 2 to diversify the fund.

Latest on the Lad Phrao elevated way controversy - June 29, 2004

Traffic Policy Office's response to the protest against Lad Phrao Elevated Way - translated and summarized from Matichon, June 18, 2004
After the meeting to discuss the Rama 6 Expressway project with the connection to Lad Phrao Elevated Way, Director Kumroblux told the press that there are three issues to tackle on Lad Phrao Elevated Way as the protest against the project is looming larger.
1) The section from Ratchada-Ladphrao Intersection to Lad Phrao Intersection ceases to be a part of the project to prevent interfering with the subway tunnel and cutting down protests from students and teachers from St. John's School and St. John's University as well as the protest from Union Mall and Central Pattana.
2) Modification of Lad Phrao Elevated Way Project to reduce detrimental effects on local people.
3) Rerouting so as to connect Lad Phrao Elevated way with Donmuang Tollway or ceasing the construction of the entrance and exit ramps at Ratchada - Lad Phrao Intersection.
The design of the section from Bangsue-Talingchan is not done yet since it requires a very complicated structure in addition to the new bridge parallel with Rama 6 Bridge. The minimum axle load of 20 tons is a must. 25 tons is preferred.

Rama 6 Elevated Way is a good solution for the traffic - translated and summarized from Dailynews, June 22, 2004
After getting strong protests from local Lad Phrao people - especially form Ratchada-Lad phrao intersection to Lad Phrao intersection, Traffic policy Office has come up with three solutions to be decided in July 2004.
1. Quit the construction of the section from Lad Phrao 1 to Lad Phrao 21 and the set the final route from Rama 6 Expressway to Donmuang Tollway.
2. Keep the old proposal to string the route along Lad Phrao Road to Lad Phrao Intersection but with only four lanes for the section from Lad Phrao 1 to Lad Phrao 21 so that there will be some space left for BRT without cutting down the old area. This option has been touted by the Traffic Policy Office as the solution for traffic jams even though most Bangkokians (especially those who live along Lad Phrao road feel very cynical about this option. They even mock this option as the option to please the vested interests within the cabinet.
3. Cut down Lad Phrao elevated into two lanes and construct the LRT or BRT but no LRT section on Lad Phrao 1 to Lad Phrao 21 since the Subway has performs this job very well.
Commentary by Wisarut: This LRT option must function as a feeder line to Blue Ring to boost passengers. Therefore, MRTA/BMCL would be the best candidate for this feeder LRT.
This Lad Phrao LRT system must have an option to be upgraded into a heavy rail system like the Skytrain. This option will be very good since MRTA could use the existing Subway rolling stock to run the system.
Initially, LRT is touted as cheaper alternative to a Heavy Rail System investment, but it seems to me that they will have a very hard time to be upgraded to be able to carry more passengers when demand surges. Those who ride Manila LRT1 and Manila LRT 3 wish that their systems would be a heavy rail system like Manila LRT2 to be able to carry more passengers in much more comfortable ride.
Even those who use Skytrain during rush hours (6am-9am, 5pm-8pm) have complained that BTSC better purchase a 6-car system like Shanghai metro to carry more passengers with more comfort during rush hour.

Links from MThai

Growing opposition to Lad Phrao Elevated Way is shown here--alledging that Governor Samak is not immune from corruption as he claims.
The selfishness of the Courts along Ratchadaphisek has pushed the expressway to Lad Phrao Road Instead of Ratchadaphisek.
Vested interest have tried to sabotage those who go against the Lad Phrao Elevated way.

What things cost - June 27, 2004
Insufficient public transportation creates corruption (The Nation, June 27, 2004): ...According to the 2003 research, each motorbike taxi driver earns Bt300-Bt600 per day. Altogether, the 200,000-or-so drivers generate an annual income of Bt20 billion-Bt40 billion. After petrol and other expenses are deducted, motorbike taxi drivers are estimated to have Bt15 billion-Bt20 billion left over each year, with 65 per cent of this combined amount generated in Bangkok and its peripherals. However, these figures do not represent the drivers’ net income, because they have to pay an estimated Bt4.1 billion in bribes to routing supervisors and police for the “right” to operate on their respective routes. The bribes, known as “kha win” or routing fees, include an estimated Bt1.5 billion per year paid to the routing supervisors in Bangkok; another Bt750 million for supervisors in provincial cities and another Bt1.8 billion for police...

Opposition to Lad Phrao Elevated Way - June 18, 2004
Wisarut reports: The sense of alienation toward those who came up with the Lad Phrao Elevated Way is growing fast. Local people are revolting against those who benefit from such a project. Below are the telephone numbers of local people who are leaders of the movement to stop the Lad Phrao Elevated Way project:
Mr. Boonkrai Jittawanit 02-9384873 (Chairman of Lad Phrao People Group)
Mr. Ruengwit PraditWitthaya 02-5114508 (Deputy Chairman of Lad Phrao People Group)
Mr. Prasoed Piyakulchaidej 01-9202608
Mr. Saeng Sahamitr 02-5113108
Dr. Anusorn MD 01-4056177
Look at these 2 threads (1, 2) websites and you'll see (in Thai).

Bangkok Governor candidate makes mass transit promises - translated and summarized from Dailynews, June 24, 2004
Mr Karun Jantharasu (candidate of BMA Governor) said he will complete both sections of Taksin extension (Saphan Taksin - Taksin Road - Phetkasem) and Samrong extension before coming up with a 12-km Phaholyothin extension from Mochit to Saphan Mai.
Furthermore, he will come up with an SOV lane after transferring BMTA to BMA. This SOV lane will enable busses to run at 30 kph instead of 12 kph. The Decentralization Act has a provision that BMTA and even MRTA should be transferred to BMA by 2006.

Outer Ring Road - approved in 1978, but not finished until 2006 - translated and summarized from Siamturakij, June 13-19, 2004
The story of the Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road:
November 28, 1978 - Cabinet approval (when the late Gen Kriansak Chamanan was PM)
There would be 3 section (Western - Bang Khuntian - Bang Pa In, Eastern - Bang pa In - Bang Plee and Southern - Bang Plee - Bang Khuntian)
1979 - The construction of the western section (Bang Khuntian - Ban Pa In) was started as 2-lane highway. Expanded later to cope with increasing traffic until it becomes a 12-lane highway finished in 1995 with total distance of 70 km.
1989 - Cabinet approval of Eastern section of Outer Ring road as tollway, but the private sector declines to invest
1990 - Loan from OECF (now JBIC) to cover 50% of the project cost and the other 50% to come from the annual budget.
1994 - Construction starts with 16 sections and the other 8 sections for interchanges with a total distance of 64 km.
1995 - Western Kanchanaphisek completed
December 1, 1998 - Eastern Section of Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring road completed for Bangkok Asian Games
April 19, 2000 - Turnkey proposal for Southern Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring road rejected
June 4, 2004 - Expressway Authority is handling the Southern section of Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road. Contract with Ch. Karnchang PCL signed with a price tag of 15.548619 billion baht for a six lane expressway with total distance of 22 km
December 5, 2006 - Southern Kanchanaphisek to be completed.

Furious response to Lad Phrao Elevated Way - May 29, 2004
Wisarut reports: The Lad Phrao Elevated Way Project has ignited furious responses on Thai webboards (1, 2) from those who live along Lad Phrao Road. This project has so many irregularities that local people ask for either a new Skytrain line or a scrapping of the project. Those who came up with this project made a secret plan along with a clandestine design without consent from local people. There was no public hearing or environmental assessment. This project also pleases automobile vested interests while causing suffering to local people...

Saensaeb Canal Boat to be extinct in five years? - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, May 31, 2004
Krobkrua Khonsong said they can run the Saensaeb boat service for only five more years since fuel prices are rising very fast and ticket prices have been frozen even though though they are supposed to be doubled as the baht has been depreciated.
Even though many have complained about their rushing services and poor safety measures, many still have to rely on this Saensaeb boat so that they can go to and from downtown without problems.
Those who live along Saensaeb canal definitely use it for going outside their communities. The daily passengers for Saensaeb boat service are:
Weekdays: 77,987 passengers a day [2003]
Weekends: 31,569 passengers a day [2003]
However nowadays there are 20,000 daily customers for Saensaeb boat service. Even Chaophraya Express Boat has about 40,000-50,000 passengers a day.
Many feel afraid that the Orange Line and Purple Line Subway will put an end to Saensaeb boat services but there are regular customers who are going to use Saensaeb boat service anyway even though sometimes they have to wait until the tide recedes after raining. High canal tides will prevent the long tail boat from going through the low spaces under Wat Phraya Yang bridge and Klongtan Bridge.
Commentary by Wisarut:
Those who run Saensaeb Boat service better prepare to become feeder boats for Subway-Skytrain systems as a way to survive. However BMA may have to correct Wat Phraya Yang and Klongtan Bridge as well as other bridge across Saensaeb canal to accommodate Saensaeb boats. If it is necessary to open the watergate at Thewet to allow the access to Chao Phraya, please do it now. It is the only way for Saensaeb boat to expand more services. However, Krobkrua Konsong better improve and modernize their boats and piers so as to attract more passengers.
See also: The defunct klong tramway project & station list

Priorities for mass transit extensions - translated and summarized from Thai Setthakij, May 13-15, 2004
The consultants for the Traffic Policy Office reported that:
1) BTSC Skytrain, Red Line Commuter, Pink Airport Link, and MRTA Blue Ring have the first priority to be constructed.
2) Purple Line and Orange line should be postponed to get the first priority routes done first.
Commentary by Wisarut: This kind of consultant will eventually lead to a series of conflicts between MRTA (the subway) vs. the Traffic Policy office and BTSC (the Skytrain) vs. the Government since the consultant and Traffic Policy Office are going to curry favor from Premier Thaksin in such a way that it messes up all the priorities. The blue right section which passes Premier's House has been given first priority over other lines that already have been through extensive studies.
Furthermore, the delay of the Skytrain Extensions will only fuel the mutual hatred between BMA and the central government since the 6 year goal for the consultant's plan assumes BMA and BTSC agrees to sell the Skytrain system to the government. This is an assumption really out of touch with reality...

The choice for Lad Phrao Elevated Way - translated and summarized from Than Setthakij, April 25-28, 2004
After a study, the consultants told the Traffic Policy Office that "the first choice is the best option" despite engineering difficulties since other options require significant land expropriation which causes lots of trouble. The straight route is the best deal.
The first choice starts from Ratchada-Lad Phrao Intersection and then goes along Lad Phrao Road to pass Lad Phrao Intersection, Vibhavadee Rangsit Highway, Donmuang Tollway, Chatuchak Park, Nikom Rotfai 2 Road before meeting with Sri Rat Expressway with a total distance of 2.3 km.
However, the company will ask opinions from area people in early June 2004 before coming up with the detailed design.

Earlier: More details on the Lad Phrao Elevated Way - translated and summarized from Prachachart Thurakij, August 11-13, 2003 (with map)
Earlier: Traffic Office approves BMA to construct the Lad Phrao Elevated Way with conditions attached - translated and summarized from Dailynews, July 11, 2003

Megaprojects would create heavy debts--1.18 trillion baht loan needed - translated and summarized from Matichon, May 17, 2004
The investment in megaprojects in the next five years needs a 1.18 trillion baht investment--higher than the threshold for a sustainable investment. SRT needs a 530 billion baht investment for the Airport Link, nationwide double tracking, etc. MOF is now getting into serious trouble coming up with a financial scheme to fund such massive megaprojects without hurting financial reserves and the current account balance.
The cabinet has approved the 1.9 trillion baht investment in State Enterprises for the next five years (2005-2009) and MOF is collecting data from State Enterprises and government agencies before coming up with a financial analysis for funding the schemes without putting the country into financial instability on both financial sustainability and the Forex.
SRT is asking for a 530.1 billion baht Investment which can be allocated as follows:
1) Hopewell revival as Red Line Commuter and Pink Airport Link -> 130.1 billion baht
2) Nationwide double tracking and electrification -> 400 billion baht
The National Housing Authority is asking for 282 billion baht for Ban Uea Athorn (Housing for the poor).
MRTA is also asking for 267.7 billion baht to support massive MRTA subway expansions.
MOF found that state enterprises are asking for an annual budget of 453.132 billion baht--25% of the 1.738515 trillion baht limitation on investment according to the annual budget.
State enterprises are also asking for a 1.185628 trillion baht loan -> 776.988 billion baht from foreign sources (JBIC) and 408.640 billion baht from local resources and SRT is asking for a 500 billion baht loan.
MOF has stated that they have limited public debt not to exceed 55% of GDP--which is now 6 trillion baht. Therefore, those state enterprises can only get a 600 billion baht loan--not enough to cover a 1.18 trillion baht loan.
MOF found that they need to import rolling stock, raw material and parts with a total price tag of 591.833 billion baht (US$ 14.795 billion) -> about US$ 2.9 billion a year. This could create very serious current account deficits along with ballooning public debts and the depletion of financial reserves.
Commentary by Wisarut: MOF better ask BOI to invite foreign investors to make a joint venture as well as invest in the megaproject as well as the supporting projects to cut down the importation bills. Megaproject mutual funds will have to become a reality immediately so as to have the resources to support such projects.
Furthermore, the government should not nationalize BTSC (the Skytrain) and BMCL (the subway) but encourage both companies to merge and offer a new IPO. SRT may have to be partially privatized through the invitation of both local and foreign investors who can support the megaprojects.

Masterplan for mass transit system to be done in 2005 - translated and summarized from Daily News, May 5, 2004
So far, MOTC has allocated 700 million baht for the 2004-5 budget to study and handle the extensions. After finishing the design, the Royal Decree for the land expropriation will be called and the construction can be started at late 2005. When construction is done in 2021, the system will cut down the annual economic loss of 220 billion baht each year.
For the funding scheme, the government can fund this project at 30-50% of GDP--about 120-275 billion baht by setting up mass transit system development funds. The government has to impose the following new taxes to finance the mass transit system developing funds:
1) 1 baht tax on each litre of gasoline
2) 0.75 baht tax on each litre of diesel fuel
3) 10,000 baht new license plate tax
4) 50% increase in annual automobile license fee
This will give revenue of 22.571 billion baht to fund the mass transit project.
The new 20-billion baht transportation mutual funds with the same form as Wayuphak funds and 241 billion baht domestic loan will be applied to ensure continuing funds. In six years, the construction funds will reach 521 billion baht.
The merging of BTSC and BMCL before offering an IPOs by the government is necessary to cut the expense on purchasing stocks. The separation of the service sector and the infrastructure construction/maintenance is a must to ensure profitable (or even lucrative) investment.
However, many people feel afraid that the nationalization of BMCL-BTSC will result in heavy loss in the same way SRT and BMTA have and still suffered. The capitalization after nationalization of mass transit system may not attract enough private investors and Bangkokians and those who live in suburbs will suffer from traffic jams during the construction.
Therefore, the consultant will gather data before coming up with the summary to be submitted to the Traffic Policy Office by the end of May 2004.
Commentary by Wisarut: It is up to the government's willingness to funds the project by imposing the fuel tax and automobile license tax. If they still clings to the powerful auto and oil interests, they would refuse to raise the taxes which hurt these influential businesses.

More on the Bangkok Southern Transportation Center - April 10, 2004
Wisarut reports: Than Setthakij (March 18-21, 2004) reports that the Bangkok Southern Transportation Center will have a new station at Wutthakart Road at the place where Maeklong Railway and Phetkasem Extension of Skytrain Intersect. This station will be next to Talad Ploo Station which is near Ratchada-Tha Phra Road.
Two schools will be expropriated (Jindamanee School Primary School and Rachamontri School) and one temple is close enough to be nearly expropriated.A new road to form the southern boundary of Bangkok Southern Transportation Center will be cut to link Dao Khanong with Wutthakart and Phetkasem.
The Traffic Policy Office try to ensure that there will as little expropriated. land as possible, but a Royal Decree is needed to secure the land plot.
Meklong Railway from Wongwian Yai to Wutthakart will have 3 tracks and there will be double tracks after Wutthakart station to Mahachai.

Three Bangkok Transportation Centers becoming a reality in six years? - translated and summarized from Dailynews, March 22, 2004
After the 248 km mass transit integration project was approved on February 23, three transportation centers must be constructed as a part of the package.
1) Phaholyothin Center (Northern Bangkok) - for those who live in Northern Bangkok suburbs to go downtown as well as those who want to go to North and Northeastern regions by intercity buses and trains.
2) Makkasan Center (Eastern Bangkok) for those who want to go from downtown to NBIA as well as those who want to go to Eastern region by intercity buses and trains.
3) Taksin Center (Southern Bangkok) for those who want to go down South as well as to help those who live in Thonburi and Southwest Bangkok suburbs or even to go down to Malaysia and Singapore.
Phaholyothin Center will on the 600 rai of SRT land from Bangsue Junction. Bangsue canal will form the southern Border while Phaholyothin Road will be the eastern border. Klong Premprachakron will form the western border while Ratchadaphisek will form the northern border.
It will have a passenger terminal, interchange station with Blue line subway at Bangsue and Red Line commuter. Bangsue will become the terminal of Northern and Northeastern trains intercity bus terminal and BMTA bus terminal at Mochit 2 will be merged with Phaholyothin Center.
The Traffic Policy office is hiring a consultant to draft the detailed designs so as to start the bidding process and start the construction in July 2005 to be done in July 2008 with the investment of 17.5 billion baht.
Makkasan Center will be on 55-Rai of SRT land. The Expressway will form the northern border at Asok 1 gate. Ratchadaphisek ring road will form the eastern border while Ratprarob and Asok-Dindaeng will form the western border. Makkasan Center will be within CBD and become the International terminal to NBIA with interchange between Blue line subway at Phetburi station and Pink Airport Link (Phyathai - Makkasan - NBIA). It will an immigration center within Air terminal to check visas and passports.
Makkasan center will become a railway terminal for the trains to the new city at Banna and Chachongsao and Intercity bus to Eastern region (via motorway) with park and ride facility, BMTA bus stop, and road system.
The Traffic Policy office is hiring a consultant to draft the detailed designs so as to start the bidding process and start the construction in July 2005 to be done in August 2008 with an investment fund of 10.5 billion baht - with contribution from the central government.
Taksin center will be the center for the southern and western bus terminal with total area of 175 rai. Taksin - Phekasem and Wutthakart Road will form the northern border. It requires a royal decree for land expropriation and now BMA is surveying a 6 sq km of area as the way to link BTSC Skytrain, MRTA Subway and SRT Red Line commuter to Mahachai. The Maeklong railway will be upgraded to integrate with Southern Railway with the link from Mae Klong to Pak Tho and the northern railway with the link from Hua Lamphong to Wongwian Yai. The new southern bus terminal will be at Taksin Center.
The Traffic Policy Office has asked 0.140 billion baht for the land ownership transfer and another 3 billion baht for land expropriation at 40000 baht/sq wah. After the land expropriation is done by the end of 2005, construction can be started in 2006 and done in 2009.
The new three Bangkok transportation centers are too vital to be neglected. Phaholyothin and Makksan center are no problem at all since it is SRT land while Taksin center requires 200 rai of land expropriation and the eviction of 8000 Bangkokians. We need to find new places for them as compensations.
Commentary by Wisarut: We need to find new places and new jobs for 8000 Bangkokians on the Thonburi side of Bangkok, 10,000 SRT workers at Bangsue and Makkasan, thousands of slum dwellers along SRT tracks who have to be evicted for this massive projects. Moving them to Ban Phachee and Lopburi is too far away... even moving those people to Chaing Rak still too far away.
Moving them to Rangsit and Lad Krabang would be fine, but SRT and government have to handle the conflicts between the those new people and the local people in Rangsit and Lad Krabang. Otherwise, it can become another explosive issue.

Korail expresses interests to cooperate on Thai high-speed rail - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, April 2, 2004
Deputy MOTC Minister Wichet Kasemthongsri told correspondents that after visiting South Korea to observe the Inauguration of the KTX High Speed Rail (Seoul-Busan) that he has seen Korail (Privatized South Korean Railway Network Authority) setting up the high speed rail system for both passenger transportation as well as cargo.
After riding the KTX, Minister Wichet praised the system and says it runs much faster than automobiles and has precise schedules. If SRT is going to conceive their own version for Bangkok (Map Taphut-Rayong - 205 km), it will cut down much of the soaring energy bills and save time from traffic jams and shipping cargo from one place to anther in a very short period of time.
After the South Korean Government knows that SRT would like to set up a high speed rail network, the South Korean Railway Authority (Korail) would like to share their own experience with SRT as a way to make stronger ties with SRT. Furthermore, Korail said they are going to make a joint venture with the Thai government for this High Speed Rail Network.
South Korea's KTX high speed rail opens today - Manager Daily, March 30, 2004
Commentary by Wisarut: The first trip of KTX High Speed Rail System from Seoul to Busan started at 5:30am on April 1, 2004. It cut travel time from Seoul to Busan (400 km) by 90 minutes.
South Korean Railway Networks have used the Standard Gauge Rail System for both KTX and regular Korail Network since it has connections with China when it was founded in 1899, a few years before the bitter Japanese colonial occupation [1910-1945].

Ko Lak Chamber of Commerce opposing the high speed rail system - translated and summarized from Matichon Daily, April 2, 2004 & Thai News Agency, April 1, 2004
[This the high speed rail project we had several articles on earlier this week.]
Niphon Suwannawa (adviser of Ko Lak Chamber of Commerce) said that the 36 billion baht high speed railway track along Phetkasem Road is hard to conceive since such a project requires long term commitment from the Central Authority (SRT). Furthermore, there will be construction problems even though the company claimed that it will cost less by constructing elevated tracks along Phetkasem Road. Therefore, it would save money by asking and making a joint venture on double tracking from Nakhon Pathom to Prachuab Khirikhan with SRT.
Furthermore, the Ko Lak Chamber of Commerce flatly said "no" to the cable car since it ruins Ao Prachuab at irreversible levels due to the pillars in the sea. Even escalators on Khaop Chong Krachok would ruin the environment. Khao Chong Krachok is not very high. The construction of the escalator as well as the funicular tracks would harm thousands of monkeys around Khao Chongkrajok (monkeys of Khao Chongkrajok creates the charm of the place just like in Khao Wang and Lopburi).
The company should also come up with public hearings before starting the project for better management since local people have suffered from mismanagement of development in such levels that they feel very opposed to any further development and consider new development as an anathema to their communities.
Commentary by Wisarut: Look at Thai netters' responses.

Details of the high-speed train and cable car projects for Prachuab Khirikhan - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, March 21, 2004 & Matichon Daily, March 23, 2004
[Ed.: Yesterday we ran some of the explanation of the Prachuab Khirikhan project. Below is an earlier article that gives most of the details of the project.]

Suphon Siwilai (CEO of Thoeddamri Co.Ltd) told the press at a conference at RTAF Wing 53 Conference Hall, Prachuab Khirikhan, that Thoeddamri Co.Ltd is going to come up with a high speed rail from Bangkok to Prachuab Khirikhan via Phetkasem Road with the targeted passengers of 1 million people a year from the current 10 million annual tourists in Thailand.
Suphon also said he will reveal the whole plan to the public in front of Prachuab Khirikhan provincial Hall on March 30, 2004 and then come up with the main plan by the end of June 2004 to be submitted to the cabinet in July 2004. If everything goes as expected, the plan can be started in late July 2004.
The first phase of this high speed rail will follow Phetkasem Road (Highway 4) from Bangkok to Prachuab Khirikhan in the middle of Highway 4 so no land expropriation is needed. If this project becomes a money maker, he would extend to Padan Besar and then Singapore (with the cooperation from KTMB).
This high speed railway will be 8-m elevated double tracks with a total distance of 300 km and use locomotives with a maximum speed of 400 km/hr. [This must be a mistake in the original. Even exported version of Shinkansen and TGV can not reach that speed.]
There are 4 proposed terminals in Bangkok: 1. Phaseecharone, 2. Bang Khun Thian, 3. Talingchan, 4. Bang Yai (Nonthaburi)
The construction of the 1st phase will take five years with a budget of 36 billion baht.
Damri Co.Ltd is also going to invest on Ocean World and Cable Car at Khao Chong Krachok (Prachuab Khirikhan). The first section will be the construction of a funicular train from ground level to Khao Chong Krachok. The second section will be a tram from Kha Chongkrachok to Khao Lom Muak (within Wing 53 area) and then the 3rd section will be a cable car from Khao Lam Muak to Raed (Rhino) Islands to be done in two years with the budget of 2.5 billion baht.
Mr. Suphon has already submitted the plans to Governor Prasong Phithunkijja.
However, Wing Commander Loedrit Sesathasanone (Commander of RTAF Wing 53, the 4th RTAF Division) has commented that this cable car will have a detrimental effect on flight training for RTAF personnel. Therefore, this project must be modified according to the consent of landlords (RTAF and Treasury Dept.) Furthermore, Wing 53 is planning to make a joint venture with the private sector to construct a 5-star hotel at Khao Klong Wan to cater those high-class group tourists invited by RTAF. Therefore, this project must be modified to serve those high-class tourist as well.
Commentary by Wisarut: Even though there are positive responses to this high speed rail project and they want the system to be expanded nationwide, many still doubt the project can be conceived at all. Look at the local responses. Furthermore, government promotion of Ecocar to cater to vested interests in automobile and oil industries, as well as the Laem Phak Bai project without consent from local people in three provinces also raises serious doubts if the popular railed mass transit projects like Bangkok Mass Transit system integration, the commuter rail network to the New City at Ban Na and any high speed rail projects. Acting like this shows the government's hypocrisy is at new high levels.

High-speed train, cable car project for Prachuab Khirikhan - translated and summarized from Matichon, March 29, 2004
[Ed.: BTW: There is also a cable car project planned for Songkhla in the south.]
Mr Silachai-Surai (director of Tourist Authority of Thailand [Central region section 2]) said Toed Damri has to be careful about the highspeed project and the company has to explain the project in detail during the monthly meeting at Prachuabkhirikhan Provincial Hall. The reasons for this concern is that the project requires massive investment and goes goes along Phetkasem Road which create noise pollution and ruin the tourist sites along Phetkasem Road.
Nevertheless, the passengers will have convenience due to a very high speed rail system and it will boost the economy of Prachuab Khirikhan as well as other provinces along the tracks.
Toed Damri Co.Ltd. also have to take the environment as well as the opinion from local people into account for the cable cars from Khao Lommuak to Koh Raed (Wing 53). If the project causes more harm to the environment and the local people do not like the project very much, it has to be scrapped.
Nevertheless, the escalator or the funicular tram to go to the peak of Khao Chong Krajok can be approved without problem, but they have to think if the project is worthy to investment.
Mr. Aphichart Hongsakul (Head Tourist Development and Environment section, Huahin-Cha Am Tourist Business Association) said the private sector has to introduce the principle of the the high speed rail project, the structure of the project, and the project details such as the ticket prices, stations, security and the connection with other mass transit systems since the line goes through several province. The cable car project needs to take environmental aspects into account since the construction through the sea is very delicate issue which could ruin both the environment around the beach and the coastal fishery businesses nearby.
The Governor of Phachuab Khirikhan said the company must listen to the voices from the people as well as the concerns from the related agencies since the project requires at least 40 billion baht. Thus the company has to show project in details to explain those agencies by the end of this month.

Companies explaining the High-speed train to Prachuab Khirikhan - translated and summarized from Matichon Daily, March 31, 2004
The Board of Directors of Ocean World told the Governor of Prachuab Khirikhan as well as representatives from other related agencies and associations about the the 36-billion baht high speed rail project. The company has made a seven-year study and found that Prachuab Khirikah is suitable to have a new high speed rail project. Furthermore, the company expects that the project will be done in five years after the project is been approved.
Suphon Silwilai (CEO of Toed Damri CoLtd.) and the Board of Directors along with the Board of Advisers of the company from mainland China, Vietnam, and local advises have come to Prachuab Khirikhan Provincial Hall to explain the details of the high speed rail project from Bangkok to Prachuab Khirikhan as well as the cable car project to the Prachuab Khirikhan governor as well as 175 representatives from other agencies on March 30.
Suphon said the company is a local Thai company which has made successful joint ventures in other countries such as the mainland China, Vietnam, and Laos. The company has made a 7-year survey about the route of a high speed rail project and found that Prachuab Khirikhan is a suitable place for the first phase of the project due to the fact that this province has natural beauty with 3 bays (Ao Noy, AO Prachuab AO Manao) which are the best bays in Asia. Therefore the companies would like to invest 36 billion baht for this project to boost tourist potential.
Furthermore, the new roads to Prachuab Khirkhan, the redevelopment of Khao Chong Krachok, a 7-star hotel, a 21-hole golf course for World class golf tournaments, and a new cable car from Khao Lom Muak to Koh Raed along with a Marine Museum are planned.
The air field of Wing 53 will become a tourist airport like Bo Fai airport in Hua Hin and there will be a new ferry line across the Gulf of Thailand from Prachuab Khirikhan to Chonburi (Bangsaen, Sri Racha or Pattaya). They hope that everything will be done in 2009 so as to allow tourists around the world to travel there easily.

South Korea's KTX high speed rail opens today - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, March 30, 2004
South Korea is going to introduce the first Korean High Speed Rail System on April 1, 2004 after taking 12 years to construct it. The name of this system is "KTX" (Korean Transit Express) which uses silver-color high speed EMUs with TGV technology imported from France and local technologies to customize the system. Some of EMU sets are even assembled locally.
The system will run from Seoul to Busan (Pusan - the main port in the southeastern part of the Korean peninsula) and from Seoul to Mokpo (a major industrial hub in Southwestern part of the Korean peninsula). This project will help to solve traffic jams in South Korea.
Kim Sae Ho (Director of Korean National Railway) said South Korea also wants to extend the High Speed Rail system to Pyongyang (the capital of North Korea) as a "Unification Line" and then connect with the mainland China Railway Networks since mainland China is the number one trading partner of South Korea. The ultimate goal is to construct a new line to connect with the Trans Siberia Railway (with regauging to fit into 5-foot Russian broad gauge) before ending up in Europe since South Korean business and industry have received massive boosts and prospered from Russian know-how.
The first phase of this high speed rail system took 12 years from conception to reality due to financial constraints from 1997 Asian financial crisis. This project also needed a massive investment of 14 trillion won (480 billion baht) to become a reality.
Commentary by Wisarut: Mr. Suphon (CEO of Toed Damri Co. Ltd. which is planning a high speed rail from Bangkok to Prachuab Khirikhan) as well as the Board of Directors and the Board of Advisors of Thoed Damri Co.Ltd. should read the articles on the Korean Mass Transit System as a way to deal with unexpected troubles in the future. Even though the Ministry of Railways in mainland China is going to implement a High Speed Rail System from Beijing to Shanghai (double track Emus), I would like to know if they are going to import the system to Thailand. I also wonder if they will have a Bangkok station of the high speed rail system connecting with the SRT railway system as well as an extension of the subway or Skytrain.

1. Green - Phetkasem extension of Skytrain (Wutthakart Station)
2. Red - Maeklong Railway (Taksin-Phetkasem Station)
3. Orange - New Southern Bus Terminal
4. Purple - New Convention Center
5. Blue - BMA Thonburi Office and office areas
6. Yellow - New Railway Hotel

(Graphic: Than Setthakij)
BMA Surveying Taksin Center--at least 500 houses to be expropriated - translated and summarized from Than Setthakij, March 21-24, 2004 Discuss these stories on the Forum
After receiving a study fund of 36.75 million baht, BMA is going to survey Taksin Center which has a price tag of 18.002 billion baht and covers 3 districts (Thonburi, Chomthong, and Phasee Charoen - 6 sq-km). At least 500 houses will be expropriated.
The Bangkok Southern Transportation Center (Taksin Center) will consist of
1. New 75-rai interchange station between BTSC Skytrain and Mae Klong Railway along with a Park and Ride facility at Wutthakart Road/Taksin-Phetkasem Road (5.89 billion baht construction budget)
2. New 450-rai major road to Southern Boundary and minor roads (4.64 billion baht)
3. New 100-rai of schools and hospitals as compensation (2.4 billion baht)
4. New 50-rai Southern Bus Terminal (2.0475 billion baht)
5. New 80-rai Taksin Convention Center (1.47 billion baht)
6. New 20-rai Bangkok Administration Center - Thonburi Branch (0.528 billion baht)
7. New 100-rai of Public park - 0.074 billion baht
The new Railway Hotel will be close to the interchange station. If everything goes according to the plan, the construction of Taksin Center can be started in 2007.
The plan for Taksin Center will have to be approved by the City Planning Board (Ministry of Interior) and the resolution from the board in May 2004. First, BMA will have to come up with a Royal Decree to designate the area under study and then they will have to come up with the Expropriation Act so that they can expropriate the land. At the same time, BMA has to draft the TOR to define the study areas and hire the consultant for the project.
BMA may not have to expropriate all the land--some area can be just exchanged or manage the land ownership, or redevelop and the return to the land owners. However, BMA and consultant companies have to discuss with local people first before doing anything. BMA has to pay those landowners the compensation at market prices.
According to the preliminary information, it is said that:
1) there are a few people who are impacted by this project.
2) Talad Ploo (Chinatown of Thonburi) is the main community close to BTSC which deserves land ownership management since Talad Ploo is the the area for conservation and rehabilitation.
3) Chomthong district is an orchard area.
4) There are several communities with commercial activities along Phaseecharoen canal due to the fact that canal was dug to function as a transportation route from Thonburi to Nakhon Pathom in the time of King Mongkut. It would be a serious problem if BMA is going to evict those people.

150 viable stations from the 181 planned - translated and summarized from Than Setthakij, March 4-6, 2004
[Wisarut: I guess that they are referring to 150 stations which are close to important places as well as interchanges and the stations within the central business district--stations where passengers come and go as a daily routine. Really hard to crack since Than Setthakij did not publish the complete list of 150 viable station from 181 stations.]
There will be 150 viable stations from the 181 station for the 7 mass transit lines.
Viable stations for Dark Green Line:
Phrannok, Pinklao, Tatchadamnoen Avenue, Bumrungmaung (Yotse), Samrong, etc.
Viable stations for Light Green Line: Bang Wah, Wongwian Yai, Krung Thonburi, Lad Phrao, Ratchayothin, Kaset, Saphan Mai, etc.
Viable Stations for Blue Ring: Bangsue, Tao Poon, Pracharat, Charansanitwongse, New road (Wat Mugnkorn), Hua Lamphong, Sam Yan, and Tha Phra
Viable Stations for Orange Line: Bang Kapi, Ram Khanhaeng, Thai Cultural Center, Samsen (Sang Hee), and Sirindhorn Road, etc.
Viable Stations for Red Line Commuter: Rangsit, Lak Hok, Don Muang, Lak Si, Bang Khen, Lad Ya, Talad Ploo
Viable stations for Airport Link: Lad Krabang, Hua Mark, Yommaraj, Kasem Bundit, etc.
On March 14-17, 2004, Than Setthakij had another list of 'viable stations.'
1) the 27 stations of original Orange line
2) the first 18 stations of blue line Subway
3) the 7 stations of the original Northern extension of Blue line
4) the 10 stations of original Southern extension of Blue line
5) the 23 stations of Skytrains.
They have not included the six stations from Phra Nanklao to Bang Yai yet.

More on the Phaholyothin Transportation Center - translated and summarized from Siamturakij, March 7-13, 2004
The Phaholyothin Transportation Center has been proposed by SRT which will integrate Mochit 2 Bus terminal with Bangsue Junction. However, the price tag of 30 billion baht has discouraged them from starting the project and investors feel reluctant to invest in such a project unless the Red line commuter becomes a reality which would compel SRT to built a giant terminal which could dwarf Hua Lamphong.

Complaints delay new city plan - Bangkok Post, March 11, 2004
The city has put the new Bangkok town plan on hold until July 5 next year while it weighs up hundreds of complaints.
This is not the same as the
New City at Ban Nah

It's not settled yet! - March 10, 200
700 billion baht mass transit systems submitted to the cabinet next week - translated and summarized from Thairath, March 9, 2004
The Traffic Policy Office said that after the cabinet has approved in principle the 700 billion baht mass transit system, the office is going to ask officers to collect resolutions from the Traffic Policy Office to be concluded before submitting results to the cabinet next week since the resolutions have so many details that it takes times to conclude the
plan so as to prevent foreseeable problems during implementation.
The Traffic Policy Office has approved the following plans for the rail mass transit system.
1. MRTA Subway, BTSC Skytrain, and SRT Red Line Commuter (Donmaung - Southern Bangkok Transportation Center)
2. Hopewell Revival as Electrified Commuter Lines
3. Electrified Commuter lines at grade to reach Nakhon Pathom, Ayutthaya, Chachoengsao from Bangsue and Makkasan as well as Pink Airport Link (Donmuang - Bangsue - Makkasan - NBIA) -> modification after extending the western section of the Pink Airport Link from Talingchan to Nakhon Pathom.
4. City Development around Makkasan, Bangsue and Taksin Transportation Center.
5. Financial scheme for the projects and time frame of the project - with the priority about which lines to be constructed first.

Rama 6-Bang Sue Elevated Way - translated and summarized from Than Setthakij, February 29-March 3, 2004
There are three proposed routes for the Rama 6 Elevated way to replace Phyathai - Phutthamonthon Elevated Way -> ready for public hearing by the end of March 2004. The detail design for this project will be cut down from 16 months to 9 months.
The first route will go from Park and Ride to Lad Phrao Intersection via Lad Phrao Road and then pass though Railway Park and Kamphaeng Phet Road. This route will be 3.2 km with construction costs of 700 million baht.
The second route will go along Lad Phrao Road, Phaholyothin Road and the road between Hor Wang and then the Km11 Railway Housing and Kampheng Phet Road. This route will be 3.8 km with construction costs of 900 million baht.
The third option will go from Park and Ride and go behind Union Mall and then pass Phaholyothin Road at Lotus and then go behind Hor Wang School before heading to the Waterworks Office and Kamphaeng Phet Road. This route will be 3.5 km with construction costs of 800 million baht.
All three routes must pass Prapa Elevated Way, with a bridge height about 11m from the ground. After that, they will follow Southern Railway Track until it reaches Rama 6 Bridge.
The New Bridge Parallel with Rama 6 Bridge is a must since Rama 6 Bridge can carry 15 tons of load--inadequate for the load for both a highway and Pink Airport Link. The new bridge will be steel since it has less strain than a cement bridge.
The bridge across Chao Phraya will be an iron bridge to it has less impact than concrete bridges. If the elevated way reaches Taling Chan, it will be 20 km long. However, the Traffic Policy Office needs public hearings in this March to finalize the plan.

New buildings near new mass transit routes free from providing parking - translated and summarized from Than Setthakij, March 4-6
Now buildings along the Skytrain-Subway--within a 200-m radius--do not have to construct a parking lot which save more space for residents. In previous regulation of 1979, the residential and office buildings for more than 2000 sq-meters need to allocate space for parking lot at 60 sq-m/car for office and 120 sq-metre/car for resident buildings. This forced contractors to build 10-floors of parking lots, gobbling 50% of construction costs and 20% of space. This new regulation has cut down the cost by 300,000 baht/unit. However, most of those residential building are within the Central Business District (CBD), and the main customers of those office and residents in CBD are those well-to-do people who can afford to drive the cars with chauffeurs or drive themselves--dimming the value of those building without parking.

Bangkok University poll says 89% of Bangkokians want mass transit system expansion - translated and summarized from Bangkok Biznews, February 26, 2004
Bangkok University Research Center has conduced the poll from Bangkokians about the following things:
753 Bangkokians were surveyed on February 25, 2004 about the government's policy.
89% agree with the policy to expand the Skytrain-Subway
7% oppose the plan
For those who agree with the plan, they think that:
46.3% will be done in 6 years
45.9% will not be done in 6 years
For the case of 700 billion public investment, they said:
58.7% Worthy to do
27.8% Not worthy yet
For the upcoming subway (opening on April 13), they said:
55.9% will moderately solve traffic jams (especially those who live along Ratchadaphisek Road)
20.1% will solve the traffic jams very well
18.6% will have little effect on traffic jams

Advertising agencies scared by the nationalization plan to integrate the Skytrain-Subway - translated and summarized from Than Setthakij, Vo. 24 No. 1,885 March 7-10, 2004
The nationalization plan for Subway-Skytrain integration has scared both investors and the advertising agencies since they felt that the government will cancel advertising deals signed by BMCL and BTSC - compelling two customers of VGI Global and Traid to cancel advertising deal - according to the source from Initiative Media Co.Ltd. and Star Com (Thailand) Co.Ltd.
Nevertheless, VGI Global (Advertising Agency Hired by BTSC) and Traid Network (Advertising Agency Hired by BMCL) said it is just a change in the ownership, and the new owner has to keep the advertising contracts. However, customers who use VGI Global and Traid have felt worried about the change of ownership.
Furthermore, those advertising agencies felt that a 10% down payment set up Traid Network Co.Ltd. is an unprecedented rule which they feel very hard to accept. If there is any delay in the opening of the subway system, Traid Networks may not be able to pay the compensation to the agencies.
MRTA Governor said VGI Global could keep their business with BTSC alive and well since VGI Global has done nothing wrong at all. However the contract between Triad and BMCL may have to be canceled since MRTA is involved with the adverting deal. However, both companies have to deal with debt and profit sharing first before system integration. Further negotiation is pending.

Eight sections to be expropriated for the ramps of Lad Phrao Elevated Way - translated and summarized from Siam Turakij, February 29-March 6, 2004
There will be eight sections to be expropriated for the ramps of the 16-km Lad Phrao Elevated Way with the 8.4 billion baht budget to be done in 2005 and bidding will be started in April 2004.

1) Ratchada-Lad Phrao 6) Bangkapi intersection
2) Chokchai 4 7) Nida intersection
3) Ram Indra - At Narong 8) the 3rd stage expressway (still uncertain)
4) Lad Phrao 101 9) Panasonic intersection (Kanchanaphisek)
5) Happyland intersection  
A bus rapid transit system will run on the elevated way. This BRT system from Minburi to Rama 5 via Lad Phrao Road will cut down the traveling time by 40 minutes while the Lad Phrao Elevated Way will boost the number of lanes to 10--6 ground lanes and 4 elevated lanes.
The Traffic Policy Office said they are testing the BRT by running air-conditioned bus services in the center of Lad Phrao road and it works just fine. There have been no accidents on BMTA Bus No. 96 (Suan Siam - Mochit 2), BMTA Bus No 502 (Minburi - Victory Monument), and BMTA Bus 514 (Minburi - Silom)--only misunderstanding from the automobile drivers who drove in the BRT lanes.
Also: (translated and summarized from Than Setthakij, February 29-March 3, 2004) The Lad Phrao Elevated Way connecting Rama 6 -Bangsue elevated way will consist of 8 gates, 2 gates at Chokchai 4, 1 Gate at Lad Phrao, 1 Gate at Lad Phrao 101, 1 Gate at Happy Land, 1 Gate at Nawamin Road, 2 gate at Ram Khamhaeng Road and 1 gate at Serithai Road. Now, it is under the detail design.
Commentary by Wisarut: It seems to me that the plan is really out of touch with the local people around Lad Phrao area. Many have use BMTA Bus 145 as well as other buses to go to Sri Nakharin and Ram Khamhaeng via lad Phrao Road, but the Traffic Policy Office has turned a deaf ear by not including those buses in the testing plan at all--a very big manipulation and distortion to reality to gain favor for their plans.
The following articles in Thai weboards (here and here) will show what local people really want, but the government neglects them since there are no politicians who live along with the people and an LRT line would hurt the automobile vested interests (especially Thai Summit Autoparts owned by Minister Suriya's family which supplies auto parts to Toyota,Thailand).
Eventually, they may find that the BRT may be working for the section from Minburi to Bang Kapi where the traffic is not so dense, but hot spots like Ratchada-Lad Phrao-Chokchai 4 and Bang Kapi may be different.

Funding the mass transit projects - translated and summarized from Dailynews, March 1, 2004
The government is planing to come up with mutual funds to be offered through the stock market to finance the 446.677 billion baht mass transit projects. The funds will have 4% benefits in 6 years and the government will make another 10-100 billion baht contribution. Initially, an oil tax and automobile tax hike will be imposed. However Minister Suriya suggests that the government should exempt those who use second hand cars while putting a tax hike on new cars. There will be no new oil and fuel tax to fund the project. This automobile tax and fuel tax are considered a long term burden and a new tax on the new cars is more reasonable.
Commentary by Wisarut: I think Minister Suriya must have his own hidden agenda. The second hand cars need new spare parts thus boosting the fortunes of Thai Summit Auto Parts (the core business of Minister Suriya). New fuel tax also hurts those with oil interests. Sounds like the plan is made by those who hate mass transit systems, but pretend to love it.

Traffic experts criticize 700 billion baht mass transit plan - translated and summarized from Transport Journal, March 8-14 Discuss these stories on the Forum

[Ed.: Local transit 'experts' (as well as those who create the plans) always seem to be people who spend their time being driven around in cars. The comments below are typical.]
Traffic experts have made an assessment on the plan proposed by the Traffic Policy Office and approved by Premier Thaksin saying it is a very poorly managed and ill-handled plan.
Dr Suwat Waneekul said even though the government has allocated an adequate budget for the 6-year mass transit project, the Airport Link will be done 1-2 years after the Suvannabhum Airport is open for service. The current traffic jam problems are due to poorly constructed roads, ill-designed roads, narrow and meandering roads and intersections.
Even the master plan for mass transit system is a very poor design due to inept officers from the Traffic Policy Office and very inexperienced consultants hired by the Traffic Policy Office who know only about construction.
Therefore, the government should allocate more of the budget to widen roads, strengthen the highway network, and correct the intersections. Too much construction will do no good at all. It is better improve the BMTA buses which carry 4 million passengers a day compared to the Skytrain which carries 300,000 passengers a day.
Dr. Samart Ratchapolasit said the government should beware the lobbyists and vested interests and said constructing the new expressways and mass transit systems to be done in 6-years is just short of a miracle since there is no sign at all that the government has made a full commitment to finance the projects and accomplish them on time. Only fast and well designed plans handled with care would work. However, those lobbyists who want to promote Ecocars [Dr. Samart is referring to Transport Minister Minister Suriya and company] before the mass transit systems are done. If they do, that would cut the potential passengers by half and render the project wasteful.
Deputy Prof. Anukal Itsarasena Na Ayudhaya (Director of Traffic Institute, Chulalongkron U.) said Paknam Railway should be revived as a branch line of the Blue Ring connecting with the Port Authority branches to reach Makkasan.
Commentary by Wisarut: That Dr. knows nothing about how much suffer we Bangkokians have suffered from the BMTA buses--suffered in such a way that we want the Skytrain extended close to home and so we can say goodbye to BMTA buses for good!
Paknam railway is a single track - too small to carry the double track and most people live along Sukhumvit-Sri Nakharin road. There is no way to change things back to the old days in the way that old professor hopes. Nevertheless, the connection with Makkasan could boost the value of that line since it would be a feeder line connecting Subway and Skytrain to keep Makkasan as a busy station like Siam and Victory Monument.

446.677 billion baht for mass transit system might be wasteful - 4% interest rate for the mutual fund too much for the government to pay back - translated and summarized from Prachachat Thurakij, Vol. 27 No. 3561 (2761), February 26- 29, 2004
Even though Premier Thaksin has approved 700 billion baht for dealing with transportation, he said 446.677 billion baht for the Mass Transit System is too much and 4% annual interest rate for the Mass Transit Funds is also too heavy a burden to the government. Wayuphak funds and Public Transportation Funds would help to cut down costs. This statement is opposite that of the Traffic Policy Office result which said funds would return a 17.92% annual payment.
After the 30th year, the estimated debts are still at 185.349 billion baht since new EMUs are needed to replace the old DMUS, etc. Nevertheless, the new mass transit system will cut energy bills by 11.1 billion baht, boost the higher quality of life by 13.1 billion baht, boost time saving by 14.8 billion baht, and save the envornmental by 4.2 billion baht. Thus 43.2 billion baht in indirect benefits by 2010. After 2021, the project will save enegy bills and cut losses by 4.94 trillion baht.
This will create an economic benefit of 17.92% and the benefit/unit cost will be 1.39 which is more than 1.0 and thus worthwhile to invest in. If Premier Thaksin only sees the financial benefit, he will see the benefit is not more than 5%. Therefore, he should see more benefits if he takes onto account the current domestic interest rates for loans which are now 5-6%.

In just 4 hours, Thaksin approves 700 billion baht project and comes up with Sri Nakharin-Samrong Expressway as substitute for both Yellow Line mass transit system and S3 3rd stage expressway - translated and summarized from Prachachat Thurakij, Vol. 27 No. 3561 (2761), February 26-29, 2004
After the meeting on February 23 at Thai Cultural Center Station, seven mass transit lines with a total distance of 247.5 km is approved in principle--446.677 billion baht total--299,676 billion baht for construction and 147.001 for systems. This will be funded by the new Wayuphak fund of 300 billion baht with a 4% annual interest rate guaranteed and the other 100 billion baht will be covered by government budget. This budget also includes the plan to nationalize BMCL and BTSC. The investment plan is flexible.
BMA also has received a budget of 52.834 billion baht to deal with 31 road projects. 19.615 billion from BMA including Lad Phrao Elevated Way of 8.4 billion baht and 15 new flyovers with a price of 4.371 billion baht.
The double tracking of Chancheongsao-Sri Racha-Laem Chabang Deep Sea Port has been approved with a price tag of 5.2 billion baht. Also the 50 billion baht Laem Phak Bia project with the detailed design to be done in 2007.
The Expressway Authority has the budget approved for Ram Indra-Kanchanaphisek (Lam Lookka) with a price tag of 13.709 billion baht, the under-design Sri Rat-Dao Khanong expressway, under-study Ratchada-Kanchanaphisek expressway and the northern section of the 3rd stage expressway (Ngam Wongwan-Nawamin). However the S2 section of the 3rd stage expressway with a price tag of 21.525 billion baht has been suspended.
The Yellow Line--conceived and aborted within two hours after the press notes it goes by property holdings of ministers - translated and summarized from Than Setthakij, Volume 24, No. 1879, February 15-18, 2004

More descriptions of the approved mass transit plans
Seven lines of new mass transit system and extensions with 181 stations - translated and summarized from Prachachat Thurakij, Vol. 27 No. 3561 (2761), February 26- 29, 2004
Five new mass transit system under study - translated and summarized from Matichon Daily, February 25, 2004
The government has the clear policy to come up with a 292 km mass transit system with a price tag of 500 billion baht after they saw the good response from BTSC Skytrain and the upcoming MRTA Subway. Now, the investors and local folks around Bangkok would like to see if the new lines will pass very close to their land.
The Traffic Policy Office has announced that the 7 lines will have 181 stations - at grade, elevated and underground. The designated stations will placed upon the distance and speed of the rolling stock. For example, BTSC stations are 1 km apart while the subway stations are 1-2.5 km apart and SRT commuter trains are 3-5 km apart.
The seven lines are:
1) Light Green Line (Onnut - Paknam, National Stadium-Samyaek Faichai) - 33 km
This section will start from Charansanitwongse Road as an elevated section to meet the Blue Ring and then become an underground tunnel at Thonburi station (the former Bangkok Noy Station) to go across Bangkok Noy canal and Chao Phraya River at Pinklao Bridge and then go along Ratchadamnoen Avenue to Phan Fah and then go along Phadung Krungkasem Moat from Saphan Khao to Yotse via Bobae market and then elevated to meet National Stadium station. After reaching Onnut, the line will go along Sukhumvit Road to Samut Prakarn--underground 5 stations and elevated 25 stations--total 30 stations
2) Dark Green
F from Mochit to Petkasem, from Bangway to Saphan Taksin via Taksin -Phetkasem and Krung Thonburi road. After that, the line will go from Mochit to Saphan Mai via Phaholyothin Road--31 km 27 stations -> all elevated.
3) Blue ring
Hua Lamphong - Bangsue - Thaphra -> 39.6 km and a branch Tha Phra Bang Khae -> 7.59 km
22 subway stations, 18 elevated stations, 6+ elevated stations inside the ring, elevated station for Phet Kasem Branch (Tha Phra Bang Khae)
13.1 km Charansanitwongse Elevated Section, 9.7 km Phetkasem Elevated Section, and 4.1 km Rattnakosin Tunnel
90 million baht for studying Bangsue - Bang Pho - Charansanitwongse - Tha Phra, and Interchange at Tha Phra
4) Purple Line
39.54 km - 11 underground stations and 19 elevated stations
Elevated: Bangyai - Phra Nanklao - Kae Rai - Tao Poon
Central tunnel from Bang Pho to Bang Pa Kaeo
Elevated: Bang Pa Kaeo - Rat Boorana
180 million baht for the section from Phra Nanaklao - Bang Yai and interchange at Sam Sen (Sang Hee)
5) Orange Line
Bang Kapi - Bang Bumru - 23.83 km
Underground tunnel from Lum Salee to MRTA Depot and Thai Cultural center to Bang Plad Intersection - at grade inside MRTA area. With 15 underground station and 2 elevated stations and 1 station at grade (MRTA)
21 km - double track - double tunnel from Lam Salee to Bang Plan (with underwater tunnel)
3 km - elevated tracks from Bang Plat to Bang Bumru and Lam Salee to Bang Kapi
30 million baht for Orange Line (for Samsen - Bang Bumru Section)
6) Red Line Commuter
Rangsit - Mahachai - 65.02 km
This line start from Mahachai at grade to Talad Ploo (the end of Bangkok Southern Terminal Center) and then the line will be elevated from Talad Ploo to go across Taksin Road at Wongwian Yai and then follow Charoenrat Road and then go to Lad Ya road to go across Chao Phraya to Rivercity (Si Phraya) and then go along Maha Phruttharam to Hua Lamphong before going at grade from Hua Lamphong to Yommaraj. Then elevated again to from Yommaraj to Donmuang parallel with the Northern Railway to Donmaung before going at grade from Donmaung to Rangsit. 10 stations at grade and 14 elevated Stations.
The Red Commuter line tracks will consist of
1) Single track at grade from Mahachai to Talad Ploo -> 14-15 m space
2) Elevated single track from Talad Ploo to Hua Lamphong -> 14-15 m space
3) Triple track at grade from Hua Lamphong to Yommaraj -> 40-80 m space
4) Elevated double track from Yommaraj to Donmuang -> 40-80 m space
5) Double track at grade from Donmuang to Rangsit -> 40-80 m space
The study budget for this route is 179 million baht -> 40-80 m space
7) Pink Airport Link
Taling Chan - NBIA -> 49.73 km
The line start at Kanchanaphisek Road to Talingchan and then elevated to go across Chaphraya via the new Bangsue - Rama 6 Elevated Way and then follow both Northern and Eastern Railway to Hua Mark via Makkasan. After that the line will be at grade up to Lad Krabang and then elevated across Onnut Road to end up at an underground station inside NBIA. 1 underground station, 6 elevated stations and 10 at grade stations.
This Pink Airport Line will have the tracks as follows:
1) Double track at grade from Kanchanaphisek to Talingchan -> 40-80 m space
2) Elevated double track from Talingchan to Bangsue -> 40-80 m space
3) Single elevated track from Bangsue to Hua Mark -> 40-80 m space
4) Triple track at grade from Hua Mark to Lad Krabang -> 40 m wide
5) Elevated double track from Land Krabanag to NBIA and then going underground at the Main Terminal
The Study budget for this route is 156 million baht.
Green light for seven mass transit lines - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, February 24, 2004
Traffic Policy Office reveals 900 billion baht package - translated and summarized from Prachachart Thurakij, February 12-14, 2004

Traffic Policy Office attempts to take over transit planning from Bangkok city hall - translated and summarized from Matichon and Dailynews, February 19, 2004
[Ed.: This page might also be useful: Thai government acronyms]
The Traffic Policy Office is creating its own plan for Bangkok transport, effectively taking away responsibility from the BMA (Bangkok city hall). Governor Samak is furious about the plan since the Traffic Policy Office never invited BMA to oversee the overhaul process. He will make an inquiry about this meddling by the Traffic Policy Office at the next meeting on February 23.
The consultants hired by the Traffic Policy Office (Ultimate Corporation Co.Ltd, Tesco Co.Ltd., Plan Pro Corp Co.Ltd.) have submitted the plan to overhaul the BMTA bus route though the BMTA Route Planning and Scheduling Project on February 18.
After the news reached BMA, Governor Samak was furious that the Traffic Policy Office came up with their own plan without consulting BMA. He will ask Premier Thaksin about this issue at the next meeting on February 23 to oppose the plan at all costs.
Governor Samak said the Traffic Policy Office has totally cut BMA responsibilities for the transportation system. He thought that some groups of people in the Traffic Policy Office have conspired against BMA and they claimed that Premier Thaksin has asked MOTC to come up with such a plan. Destroying decentralization would ruin Premier Thaksin's reputation since it violated the Constitution which stresses decentralization.
BMA City Clerk (Ms. Thananon Thaweesin) said if the cabinet has approved such a plan, BMA will be stripped of responsibility for transportation--not even the BTSC Skytrain (the favorite son) will be spared. BMA has no clue how the Traffic Policy Office has come up with such a plan through the consultants. By principle, the local authority has to come up with such a plan to meet local demands.
The BMA Deputy City Clerk (Transportation) said Traffic Policy Office is aiming to reduce the BMA role in transportation. However, the single organization to handle the traffic problem will facilitate a solution. Currently, there are about 20 organizations to handle traffic which causes lots of chaos and slows down a solution.
The Traffic Policy office Director said this is just a proposal from the consultant companies which will take time to be accepted by everybody. If the Traffic Committee and cabinet disapproves the plan, there will be no effect on the current plan.
During the first meeting at Royal River Hotel on January 28, the consultants said there are two ways to handle traffic. Both proposals shows that the government will have to set up BMTA to handle Skytrain- Subway, buses, Chaophraya Express boats, ferry across Chao Phraya, Saensaeb boat, taxi, tuktuk, minibuses, and the engineering structures. This will effectively cut out the roll of BMA in handling traffic. BMTA would not be transferred to BMA.
This kind of restructure is due to the transfer of the Traffic Policy Office from the OM office to MOTC which cuts the role of Traffic Policy Office. Therefore, it is necessary to restructure to empower the Office without inviting BMA to oversee the process.
Commentary by Wisarut: The Traffic Policy Office should come up a compromise that allow the local authorities to be shareholders of the new companies to calm them down. Since BMTA refuses to be transferred to the authority of BMA at all, BMA should leave this issue to MOTC and then BMA should act as shareholders to send their opinion about the route readjustment.
Many people complain about the shoddy service of Saensaeb canal boats which seem to be out of touch with the people. As long it is still in BMA hands there will be no change.

Green light for seven mass transit lines - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, February 24, 2004
The Traffic Committee just approved seven lines of mass transit with a total budget of 446.677 billion baht. 100 billion baht from government coffers while the other 346.677 billion baht comes from mutual funds. Premier Thaksin would like to see the stations every 500 meters. Premier Thaksin also pushed Suriya very hard to conclude the deal with BTSC and BMCL to buy the stock of both companies.
Before the meeting with the Traffic Policy Office, Premier Thaksin drove the subway from Hua Lamphong to the Thai Cultural center by himself. He told the press that: "I haven't driven all by myself - but the computer system in the subway helped a lot. If I could drive the subway by myself, I would become a subway driver. When I was sitting down, there is a slight slip during the cruise along the curve. This was due to too little land expropriation which caused a very small radius for the curve. This subway was going very fast since it just went nonstop (not stopping at stations). When the subway service is opened, I would like to be a passenger instead..."
Premier Thaksin also asked to suspend the S2 section of the 3rd stage Expressway Project (7.8 km - 21.525 billion baht) and ask the Expressway Authority to come up with either an expressway or skytrain along Sri Nakharin Road since the S2 section requires 14.889 billion baht for land expropriation
On the other hand, Ram Indra-Eastern Kanchanaphisek Outer ring Road Expressway (13.709 billion baht) and 70 million baht budget for the study on Sri Rat-Dao Khgangong Expressway have been approved.
For the double tracking plan, Chachongsao-Sri Racha-Laem Chabang Port section with total distance of 78 km and budget of 5.235 billion baht has been approved to accommodate the increasing container traffic. However, the 2nd phase ICD at Lad Krabang with the budget of 6 billion baht has been frozen.
The controversial Lam Phakbai Elevated Way also has been approved with total distance of 92 km and 56.816 billion baht. The land section (the first 8 km and the last 37 km) will be 'detailed design' while the 47 km section across the sea will require 'definitive design.'
For complete info on the various Bangkok mass transit plans, see the index along the left-hand side of this page.

Traffic Policy Office reveals 900 billion baht package - translated and summarized from Prachachart Thurakij, February 12-14, 2004
[Ed.: The Nation has a generalized overview of the project today, but here are all the details. More articles about this plan are on this page. Also see the Bangkok future mass transit map and the forum to discuss the map.]
After the meeting with Traffic Policy Office hosted by Prachachart Thurakij at Merchant Court on Ratchadaphisek Road on February 9, Traffic Policy Office reveal the 900 billion baht package to be done in 6 years which consists of
1) Nationwide double tracking of SRT - 400 billion baht
2) Expressways - 100 billion baht
3) Mass Transit Systems - 400 billion baht
The Mass Transit System would consist of
1. BTSC Green networks (the Skytrain) which consists of
1.1) Onnut - Samrong - 8.9 km with a price tag of 14.131 billion baht - still in bidding process
1.2) Samrong - Samutprakarn - 7.9 km with a price tag of 12.405 billion baht - still under study - bidding would start in 2006
1.3) Rama I - Pinklao - Charansanitwongse - 6.8 km, 19.771 billion baht - bidding will be started in 2006
1.4) Mochit - Saphan Mai - 12 km, 18.515 billion baht - bidding will be held in 2005
1.5) Saphan Taksin - Taksin Road - 2.2 km, 3.476 billion baht - starting construction in mid 2004
1.6) Taksin Road - Phetkasem - 4.5 km, 6.086 billion baht - staring construction early 2005
2. MRTA Charansanitgonse Ring (27 km) - under design study for Bangsue - Thaphra section - to be done in 14 months - to be started in April 2005. This ring consists of
2.1) Hua Lamphong - Tha Phra - 6.5 km, 17.665 billion baht (the section through Rattanakosin Island)
2.2) Bagsue - Bang Pho - Tha Phra - 13.1 km, 18.295 billion baht
2.3) Tha Phra - Bang Khae, 7.6 km, 10.236 billion baht
3. MRTA Purple Line (Bang Yai - Ratboorana) 40 km - to be constructed in 2005
3.1) Bangsue - Phra Nanaklao - 11.6 km, 14.562 billion baht
3.2) Phra Nanaklao - Bang Yai - 8.1 km, 11.237 billion baht
3.3) Bangsue - Sam Sen - 4.9 km, 13.041 billion baht
3.4) Samsen - Ratboorana - 14.8 km, 36.055 billion baht
4. MRTA Orange Line - Bang Kapi-Bang Bumru to be constructed in 2005
4.1) Bang Kapi - Samsen - 20 km, 53.213 billion baht
4.2) Samsen - Bang Bumru - 4 km, 9.301 billion baht
5. SRT Red line commuter networks (Rangsit - Mahachai, Talingchan - NBIA) will consist of
5.1) Bangsue - Rangsit - 22.7 km, 22.063 billion baht - construction to start in 2005
5.2) Bagsue - Hua Lamphong - 7.5 km, 9.054 billion baht - construction to start in 2005
5.3) Hua Lamphong - Taksin center - 6.5 km, 8.479 billion baht - starting in 2006
5.4) Taksin Center - Mahachai - 28.2 km, 20.124 billion baht - starting in 2006
5.5) Phyathai - NBIA - 28.5 km, 27.874 billion baht - constructed in 2005
5.6) Bangsue - Phyathai - 6 km, 6.529 billion baht - constructed in 2005
5.7) Bagsue - Talingchan - 15 km, 11.899 billion baht - constructed in 2005
6. Yellow line from Bang kapi to Samrong via Sri Nakhari, connecting both BTSC Skytrain and Red Line Airport Link - 35 km, 22 billion baht - to be constructed in 2007 [This line has been cancelled.]
The investment plan and the public investment on structure be separated. No more concessions, but the government will hire the private sector to run the system to enable the government to control ticket prices - with revenue sharing in the same way as these projects are conducted overseas. Even though the population within Bangkok is still 6.5 million people (the other 1 million are in Nonthaburi and 1.5 million are in Samut Prakarn), the actual number should be about 11 million or more.
Within the Ratchadaphisek Ring Road there will be stations in every 1 km. The ticket price will start from 10 baht and rise 1.8-2 baht/km up to 30 baht. Travel through Ratchaphisek will take 35 minutes. The government will allow buses only in areas not covered by the mass transit systems. Only feeder buses can go in Ratchadaphisek Ring area. This is to boost the usage of mass transit from 3% to 70% for the section within Ratchadaphisek. The fare for the feeders will be 5 baht. Euro 2 type buses will be the main feeders for the areas outside the line.

Expressways must have gates every 2.5 km. There will be a new expressway from Talingchan to Bangsue and then connecting with Lad Phrao elevated way to connect to Kanchanapisek Outer Ring Road at Panasonic Intersection.
Eleven centers around Bangkok must become a reality with feeder bus connections:
1 Bang Pa In (Industrial estate and travel to Royal Palace in Bang Pa In)
2 Bang Sai (Royal Project at Bang Sai and industrial estate)
3 Lad Lumkaeo (Shinnawatra University, rice fields)
4 Bang Bauthong (suburb villages)
5 Talingchan (suburb villages along with vegetable and fruit orchards)
6 Bang Khun Tian (suburb villages, fisheries, industrial estates, travelling through mangrove areas)
7 Lad Krabang (Engineering, aviation businesses, industrial estate and suburb villages)
8 Bang Plee (fisheries, industrial estate, suburb villages)
9 Minburi (fisheries, rice fields, cattle, suburb villages)
10 Lum Lookka (rice fields and suburb villages)
11 Thunyaburi (suburb villages, Rangsit community, Rangsit University, and Thammasart University)

For nationwide double tracking, the additional package will include:
1) Makkasan Station must be rebuilt to accommodate passengers to NBIA and Chachoengsao
2) Bangsue Station must be rebuilt to accommodate more passengers
3) Taksin (Talad Ploo Station) must be rebuilt to accommodate passengers from Talingchan and Rangsit
4) The new dedicated lines must be standard gauge to allow travel from Nakhon Pathom to Bangkok in 40 minutes (at 160 km/hr) and keep the meter gauge line for cargo which is another money maker service for SRT.

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