Master Plan News 2005

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
Western Corridor Project - December 27, 2005
SIDELINES: Fast-track plan for mega-kickbacks unveiled - The Nation, December 18, 2005
BMA to push for Samrong extension - The Nation, December 13, 2005

On the forum: Blue Ring may cause collapse of Santa Crus Church in Thonburi? - Dailynews, December 12, 2005
Bickering slows new rail projects - The Nation, December 13, 2005

Flip-flopping mass transit plans - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from December 9, 2005

Bangkok Biznews, December 8, 2005: Even though Transport Minister Pheng has grudgingly accepted the 10 lines initiated by Suriya and Sudarat, he has still not specified whether the section from Bang Kapi to Minburi will be the extension of the Orange line or the new Brown Line [9.5 km 5 stations from Bang Kapi to Suwinthawongse (Minburi) via Sukhaphiban 3 Road]. Minister Pheng said he is going to deliver the data to diplomats during the meetings on December 14.

Than Setthakij, December 8-10, 2005 and Manager Weekly, December 4-10, 2005: The flip-flop plan of Transport Minister Pheng has effectively deferred both foreign investors and local real estate owners and contractors from investing in this megaproject. For the media, they say it would be very lucky for TRT to complete just 1-2 lines of the mass transit project from 10 lines... For many, the term "Internal Bidding" is just a turnkey in the new disguise...

Than Setthakij, December 8-10, 2005: Wait until you can see who is the next MRTA Governor since Pheng and Suriya are going fight for the new MRTA puppet ... Pheng wants some new face to replace Governor Praphat while Suriya wants to keep Governor Praphat in the same old place instead of becoming MRTA Advisor.

Thailand mulls single bidder for mass transit - Business Day, December 6, 2005
Thailand is considering awarding Bangkok's 550 billion baht (13.75 billion dollars) 10-line mass transit project to a single bidder when it calls for proposals early next year, government officials have said...

Mass-transit plan 'made for collusion' - The Nation, December 6, 2005
...There is only a handful electric-train manufacturers in the world, namely Siemens, Alstom and Bombardier, which would have to join hands with other international suppliers and local contractors. Even though the government will open all the 10 routes for bidding, it is more likely that each firm will choose only those routes that they think are more economical and may collude to win the contracts...

List of 10 new lines with international bidding - Thai News Agency, December 1, 2005

Suriya goes one up over rival Pongsak - PM rejects proposed changes to train lines - Bangkok Post, December 2, 2005
[How political games in the cabinet hurt TRT... and now the mass transit plans are back where they started.]
...Soon after taking over the Transport Ministry in August, Mr Pongsak tried to erode Mr Suriya's influence by reviewing some of the seven mass transit lines.
He eventually had to give up the attempt. The additional three lines announced on Tuesday were the ones designed when his predecessor still controlled the ministry.
The three routes were not put before cabinet for approval at the time when Mr Suriya was the transport minister.
"The attempt to change some routes had a bad effect on the country's credibility," a government official said.
"It could also affect the government, which put the mass transit system on the agenda during Thai Rak Thai's election campaign..."


Siemens eyes mega rail projects - German firm aims to enter bidding round - Bangkok Post, December 2, 2005
...In January this year, Siemens together with its consortium partners - B Grimm MBM and Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction Plc - won the Airport Rail Link and City Air Terminal contracts from the State Railway of Thailand. This new 28 km-long, 160 kph-speed rail line worth 25.91 billion baht will connect the Bangkok's Makkasan area with the Suvarnabhumi Airport.
In addition, the company was also awarded a contract to maintain an extension of the BTS Skytrain for 10 years...

List of 10 new lines with international bidding - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thai News Agency, December 1, 2005
The government has asked for 10 lines of mass transit system with a price tag of 550 billion baht even though the same amount of budget is for just seven lines.
The extra three lines are
1) Old Yellow Line - Bang Kapi - Sri Nakharin - Samrong [should add Lad Phrao section]
2) New Yellow Line - Nawamin - Kaset - Bangkhen Station - Ngam Wongwan - Khae Rai with a branch line from Patthamawikorn to Km 8
3) Pink Monorail - Chaeng Watthana - Ram Indra - Minburi - Suwinthawongse
The 1st phase will consist of 4 lines with a price tag of 194.276 billion baht and this will have to be a turnkey project.
Notes: Nowadays, few people feel convinced with PM Thaksin's plans on megaprojects after a series of shenanigans with mass transit plans by Transport Minister Pheng along with impulsive and continuing changes of the plan by PM Thaksin.
Even worse, the plan to borrow 80 billion baht to solve the cash flow problems due to the pet projects of the PM and his cronies has effectively ruined the confidence that the government has any cash to deal with the megaprojects at all...
The cut of Lad Phrao - Bang Kapi Section (underground) instead of a scaled-down version to elevated tracks would only alienate those who live along Lad Phrao Road to such extend to jeopardize the election of TRT MPs.
Pink Monorail without going to Muangthong Thani will never work. Nobody want to make a transfer from the gate of Muang Thong Thani to go into IMPACT.

Mass transit rail plan aims to ease Bangkok congestion - TNA, December 1, 2005
...The three new extended routes will cover the Bang Kapi, Sri Nagarindra, Samrong, Kasetsart University, Kae lai, Bang Khen, Raminthra, Nawamin, Changwatana, Min Buri and Suwinthawong areas.
The transport minister said details of the new routes were now being worked out, and would be submitted to the prime minister for further consideration within seven days.
The previously announced seven routes, with some adjustments to plans, are:
- 43-kilometre purple route from Bang Yai in Nonthaburi Province, passing through Bang Sue to Ratchaburana in the city's Thonburi side.
- 27-kilometre blue route from Hua Lampong, passing through Bang Sue and Bang Kae to Ta Pra in Thonburi.
- 24-kilometre orange route from Bang Kapi to Bang Bamru in Thonburi.
- 66.8-kilometre red route from Rangsit in Pathum Thani Province, passing through Bang Sue and Hua Lampong to Mahachai in Samut Sakhon Province.
- 71.4-kilometre light red route from Airport Link, passing through Bang Sue, Makkasan to Taling Chan.
- 26.5-kilometre light green route from Prannok in Thonburi to Samut Prakan Province.
- 18.7-kilometre green route from Saphan Mai in Don Muang area to Bang Wa in Thonburi...

Blue Ring at Bangkok Noy discussions: Scaling down the station size and connections to the canal pier - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thairath, November 29, 2005
There was the meeting between MRTA-BMTD and local people of Bangkok Noy at 9am on November 28, 2005 with 50 local people attending. The meeting was about the Blue Ring that passes Bangkok Noy District.
There will be two stations on this route
1) Bangkok Noy
2) Phran Nok
However, those who live in Bangkok Noy district have a split opinion on Bangkok Noy station as well as Phrannok station.
1) Change the name from Bangkok Noy to Bang Khun Non since the station is on Bang Khun Non Intersection as well as Chanasanitwonse 53.
2) Those who live in Wat Suwannaram neighborhood in Charansanitwonse 59 told MRTA to "keep the name of Bangkok Noy station, but the station must be moved to the pier on Bangkok Noy Canal for convenient connection with the long tail boat. Many of us have to ride long tail boats to Bang Kruay and Pakklong Talad."
3) The stairways for both Phrannok and Bangkok Noy station must be the same form as BTS since they refuse to surrender the land for making comfortable stairways for the handicapped due to the narrow space (4 meter wide footpaths).
4) The distance between each pillar will be 35 meters with the box structure with more curvy and lighter structure than BTS.
5) Phran Nok station must be connected to the future BTS Pinklao extension.
Most local people ask MRTA on the land expropriation issue. MRTA said they just ask for a Royal Decree to survey the land until they have finalized the place to construct the stations.

Summary for Blue Ring - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thairath, November 24, 2005 and Dailynews, November 23, 2005
During an MRTA meeting session with local people at Bangkok Yai district hall on November 23, the Blue Ring will pass Bangkok Yai with two elevated stations on the middle or Charansanitwosne Inner ring.
1) Phanitchayakarn Thonburi [Charansanitwongse 13]
2) Tha Phra interchange station
Local people want to see the exact areas to be expropriated along with the compensation rates. MRTA and BMTD replied to the local people that they have not finished the station design yet so they cannot answer such questions.
There were 150 Taopoon people attending the previous session about Blue Ring at Bangsue District hall [6pm on November 22]. MRTA said the Blue Ring will go from Bangsue to Bang Pho via Pracharat Sai 2 Road which passes Tao Poon area.
There will be one station in Bangsue for Blue Ring which is
1) Bang Pho Station - at Bang Pho intersection--not finalized whether it will be closer to Chao Phraya Express Pier or the shopping mall [former Bang Lamphoo Department store - Bang Pho Branch -> now taken over by Billionaire Charoen]
The other station (Tao Poon) will be an interchange for both Blue Ring and Purple Line. Therefore the Purple Line will be there even though some disgruntled local people have sprayed graffiti of the Red Nazi Cross on the map of the Purple Line.
Most people of Tao poon have seen the point to have elevated tracks near their building rows, but they need to see the exact areas of the expropriated land so they are prepared to buy new homes along the Purple Line once they have to move out.
For the case of those who live in Phaseecharoen, they would support the Blue Ring project instead of objecting to the project as those who live in Tao Poon have and who now now become pariahs in the eyes of other Bangkokians. However, the local people of Phaseecharoen have asked MRTA to make a serious survey on Phekasem Road since there is a sewage pipeline along that road which requires a rebuilding of the pipeline before removing the old one. Without proper planning, the construction of the Blue Ring from Tha Phra to Bang Khae would be delayed.
Furthermore the local people are concerning about Bang Khae Station near Bang Khae Market. The good design of the elevated station is needed so it can run along the area with high density like Bang Khae Market. Those who live along Phetkasem Road wonder if MRTA is going to build a Park and Ride near the Mall Bang Khae according to the plan. They are also very reluctant to surrender their land to constructing the station with much better facilities than BTS stations.
The stairways of elevated tracks will depend upon the demands of local people--either the same as BTS but without elevators or with elevators and big escalators for handicapped in the same way as MRTA with and expropriation needed.
MRTA Governor Phraphat said if they refuse to surrender the land to construct the station facilities, they would have to say goodbye to the escalators and elevators for the handicapped. Furthermore, MRTA have already cut the station length from 250 meters to 180 meters to minimize the detrimental effect during construction and MRTA would have to write an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) to be submitted to the Environmental Bureau, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
For the underground line through Rattanakosin Island, MRTA is asking the Environment Bureau that MRTA would have to use the open road surface method to construct the Blue Ring through Rattnakosin island instead of the closed surface method as suggested by Rattnakosin Island Committee due to the fact that there is unlikely to have the old artifacts at Wang Boorapha and Sanam Chai since both have road surfaces for a long time despite the claims of artifacts like the foundation of Sam Yod Gate and the City Wall at Wang Boorapha. The open surface method is cheaper to implement and it is faster to be complete. However, MRTA would have to wait until they see the result from the Environmental Bureau and Rattanakosin Island Committee.


Elevated section of the Blue Line at Phasee Charoen following BTS model with stairways on the footpaths - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thairath, November 23, 2005
150 people attended the MRTA-BMTD meeting with the local people at the Phasee Charoen District office. BMTD told the local people that the section from Pakklong Talad to Bangkok Yai would be underground before becoming an elevated track from Issaraphab Road. The elevated tracks would follow the middle island on Phetkasem Road from Tha Phra.
There will be four stations within Phaseecharoen district:
1) Bang Phai, 2) Bang Wah, 3) Phekasem 48, 4) Phaseecharoen
The length of stations will be down from 250 meters to 180 meters which requires the reduction of commercial spaces.
There will be four models for the stairways:
1. Standard stairway parallel with the road. This type will have escalators and elevators for the handicapped. The stairways would be outside the footpath area, so land expropriation is needed.
2. The standard stairway perpendicular with the road. This type will have only the stairway without elevators. The stairways would be outside the footpath area so land expropriation is needed.
3. The small stairway parallel with the road and the stairways will be in the opposite direction. This type will have only escalators that go UP to the station without elevators. This type of stairway will be the same as the BTS Skytrain. Therefore, no need for land expropriation since it covers only the footpath area.
4. The small stairway parallel with the road and the stairways will be in the same direction. This type will have only escalators that go up to the station and the stairway will be the same as the BTS Skytrain. Therefore, no need for land expropriation since it covers only the footpath area.
For the interchange at Bang Wah for the future connection with BTS, MRTA said they will be connected with BTS eventually.
MRTA would give priority for the environment during and after the construction with the continuing environmental assessment. Therefore, MRTA need continuing public opinion to guarantee full satisfaction.
MRTA would also pay the landowners at a satisfying rate since there will be a committee to make an assessment on the land expropriation by applying the market rates of land prices.
Note: Expect a conflict of interest between the handicapped and the landowners along the route because the handicapped want elevators in every station while landowners refuse to surrender their land unless they get paid at hefty prices.

Expropriating a football field in Wat Rajbophit high school for the Blue Ring across Rattanakosin Island - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thairath, November 16, 2005
There was a meeting between MRTA and BMTA and local people at Phra Nakhorn District for the Blue Ring in the morning of November 15 with only 50 people (most from the bureaucrat offices) attending the meeting. On the other hand there were 30 people during the afternoon meeting at Samphanthawongse District.
There will be one underground station at Samphanthawongse district and two underground stations at Phra Nakhorn District [AKA Rattanakosin Island] with 1.7 km underground track with double tunnel. The stations will be stacked up like Silom station due to space constrains.
1) Wat Wangkorn Kamalawat [in front of Wat Wangkorn Kamalawat - AKA Wat Leng Nei Yee] -> Samphanthawongse
2) Wang Boorapha [near Saphan Lek Bon] -> Phra Nakhon
3) Sanam Chai [in front of Wat Rajbophit to avoid hitting Wat Pho and Grand palace] -> Phra Nakhon
Dimension of Sanam Chai station and Wang Boorapha station will be 23 meter wide, 180 meter long and 30 meter deep [the same depth as Silom station] while the dimensions of Wat Wangkorn Kamalawat station will have to be 23 meters wide, 250 meters long and 30 meters deep. All three stations would have to be stacked up like Silom station.
The representative from Wat Rajbophit school is asking for the area to be expropriated and BMTD said part of the football field from that school would have to be expropriated. For the case of Wat Wangkorn Kamalawat station, it needs a major land expropriation for the gates due to space constrains--19 meter-wide foothpaths. Even though the company would try at best not to do any harm to Wat Wangkorn Kamalawat due to its historical significance.
It is necessary to open the surface of Charoenkrung Road which will do harm to the commercial activities in that area. Therefore, a hefty compensations is needed, but it is up to the policy from MOTC to deal with this matter.

Modifying Kaset flyover for the Bangkok Smart Way and Phaholyothin extension of BTS - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thairath, Matichon, Dailynews, November 16, 2005
BMA City Hall had released the news that it is necessary to modify the 3-lane Kaset flyover by shortening and narrowing the flyover to allow both Bangkok Smart way and BTS Phaholyothin extension. It will shorten the flyover by 500-600 meters from Phaholyothin 35 - GSB [Kasetsart U. Branch] to the Land Development Dept - GSB [Kasetsart U. Branch] so as construct the new BRT station at Senanikhom 1 Road [Pahholyothin 32].
Furthermore, BMA is going to narrow the lane from 3 to 2 lanes. This measure is to allow the construction of both the Bangkok Smart Way and BTS Phaholyothin extension.
This modification would cost BMA 200 million Baht and the flyover modification would have to be executed at the same time as the construction of Bangkok Smartway so as to minimize the traffic interruption and both Flyover Modification and Bangkok Smartway would be done at the same time -> December 2006.
The blueprint for Flyover modification would be done by the end of November 2005 .... and the price assessment would be submitted to BMA Board so as to start the flyover modification in Jan 2006, finish removing in April 2006, allow BRT operation in August 2006, and finish the modification in December 2006. The modification would take six months to be complete.
Furthermore, BMA is asking the Provincial Highway Department, ETA, and the Highway Department to finish the tunnel construction at Kaset Intersection so BMA could start the flyover modification.
The new flyover at Ratchayothin will be made by removing the old flyover along Ratchadaphisek Inner Ring with the space for BTS Pahholyothin extension and BRT. The replacement for Ratchayothin flyover is the new tunnel.

Speeding up spending on 1.8 trillion baht megaprojects - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thairath, November 11, 2005
The upcoming cabinet meetings on November 15 will consider the plan for megaproject spending which is up to 1.804242 trillion baht, up by 103.492 billion baht
For MOTC, the list of megaprojects are:
1) 555.737 billion baht mass transit
1.1) 23 km - Purple Line
1.2) 27 km - Blue Ring [Bangsue - Tha Phra of 13 km and Hua Lamphong - Bang Khae 14 km]
1.3) Red line commuter [Makkasan - Ayutthaya of 73 km]
1.4) Pink Airport Link [Nakhon Pathom - Bang Sue of 57 km]
2) Other 17 MOTC Projects of 407.43298 billion baht
2.1) Pak Bara deep sea port
2.2) Eastern Seaboard Double tracking [Chachongsao - Sri Racha - Laem Chabang]
2.3) 14 new commercial planes for Thai International

Critique of plans for future intercity rail Deputy Professor Dr. Ichiro Kakisaki, author of Laying Track - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi, November 15, 2005
The way to force the intercity passengers to go down to change the train to red line commuter at Taling Chan and Chiang Rak is not a very good idea at all.
1. Very inconvenient for the intercity passengers to change trains at Chiang Rak or Taling Chan
Taling Chan and Chiang Rak are too far away from the city center (40 km for Chiang Rak). The taxi from Chiang Rak to the city center is already 200-300 baht, so this will force intercity passengers into the Red Line commuter, leaving too little space during rush hour due to heavy luggage from intercity passengers and lots of people from the suburbs.
You should never forget that many suburban people ride intercity trains to Bangkok in the morning. There are 10 intercity trains going along the Northern tracks and those who use intercity trains carry lots of luggage which is very inconvenient for the passengers to transfer their baggage.
Furthermore, the terminal of intercity at Chiang Rak, Makasan and Taling Chan would force the passengers to make at least three transfers instead of just one at Hua Lamphong or Bangsue.
Other countries in the world would allow intercity trains into the city center, not leave them far away at Chiang Rak. Where did they get the idea to move the intercity terminals to the suburbs?
2. Obstructing the cargo trains to Bangkok
The main cargo for Bangkok is at Phahol Yothin Yard [Bangsue]. The daily cargo of cement from Saraburi [Map Krabao or so] to the cement silo at Phaholyothin Yard is 840,569 tons of cement in 2003. If you decide to terminate cement trains at Chiang Rak instead of Phaholyothin Cargo yard, you would face the dire consequence of transferring the cement into the city by trucks which would take 80,000 ten-wheel loads to do the job.
The cargo train to Mae Nam station would be in trouble without the track from Chiang Rak to Makasan via Bangsue and Makasan The alternative of Kang Khoi - Klong 19 - Makasan is too long for a Southern cargo train.
3. Adding extra operating costs for SRT
Building only two elevated tracks instead of five (2 for red line commuter and 3 for intercity) is not a cost savings at all! Only two elevated tracks would force SRT to rearrange the tracks and system which costs more than adding extra tracks.
The new double track from Suphanburi to Ban Phachi is not easy to implement in the very short period of time. Initially, the track from Nong Pladuk to Suphanburi is heading to Lopburi but it stops at Suphanburi since 1963 after the death of strongman Sarit and is a single commuter train to Suphanburi with very few passengers.
Even though the bypass route such as Nong Pladuk - Suphanburi - Ban Phachi is not a bad idea, the government should prepare to pay the extra cost from the 7 billion baht budget along with extra time over 6 years to finish the since it requires three bridges--across the Suphanburi River, Noy River and Chao Phraya River. The cost to acquire the land in the central planes from Suphanburi to Ban Phachi via Ang Thong is not cheap.
Furthermore, you have to make a massive rehab of track from Non Pladuk to Suphan Buri and then the new track from Suphanburi to Ban Phachi via Ang Thong which requires a new survey for feasibility and design before construction. The government is acting like a fool millionaire who wants a 100-floor skyscraper without building floor 1 to 99.
You have to keep Taling Chan - Bangsue - Chiang Rak and Bangsue - Makasan - Hua Mark route alive and well so long that you have not finished the route Nong Palduk - Suphanburi - Ban Phachi (or Lopburi according to the old plan) which will take longer time to implement than Bangsue - Chiang Rak Red Line commuter.
Furthermore, the massive movement of new terminal from Bangsue to Taling Chan and Chiang Rak along with the movement of the godowns and cement silos, the marshaling yard and locomotive depot from Bangsue (and Hua Lamphong railcar depot) to Ban Phachi would cost the government a lot more than the savings from cutting down from 5 tracks to 2 tracks.
The old plan to move Hua Lamphong to Bangsue (near Kamphaengphet subway station) and turn the track from Bangsue to Hualamphong into a road failed due to the higher cost to build the new track from Bangsue to Klong Tan (now Ratchadaphisek ring road). It is also cheaper to construct an elevated track from Bangsue to Yommaraj and Yommaraj to Makasan but SRT failed to realize it.
Therefore, it is better to keep the track from Bangsue to Chiang Rak and Bangsue to Taling Chan as the mix of Red Line commuter and intercity trains and keep Bangsue as the center of the intercity trains as defined in the old plan which is rejected by Transport Minister Pheng, for sake of convenience of the passenger service and cargo services and budget saving.
Even five tracks from Bangsue to Chiang Rak is not much more expensive due to the Hopewell structures which allow five track. New road tunnels across the railway tracks from Wat Samian Naree to Don Muang would also help. The same can be said of the Bangsue - Taling Chan route if they want at-grade tracks.
If you really want to cut the budget on first phase, please cut at the following routes:
1) No Blue Ring in the first phase. The Blue Ring should be implemented only after the Red Line commuter and Purple Line has become a reality. The track from Hua Lamphong to Bangkhae can be substituted by the third phase BTS Taksin extension (Bang Wah - Bang Khae) only after the demand is rising would force the government to implement the Blue Ring.
2) The Orange Line should be implemented even though the route has to be modified to be extended to Klong Tan (or Makasan) after passing the Thailand Cultural Center.
3) The Purple Line section 2 should be implemented from Wongwian Yai to Rat Boorana [Prapadaeng], even though the route has to be midfield to be started at Hua Lamphong.

Flip-flop on mass transit plan - the Yellow Line LRT is gone! - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Matichon, November 8, 2005

[Mass transit line routings have been political footballs within the present government. See also: The Yellow Line--conceived and aborted within two hours after the press notes it goes by property holdings of ministers
- Than Setthakij, Volume 24, No. 1879, February 15-18, 2004]

Initially, we thought that the government was running out of money to implement 500 billion baht mass transit system. However, we found the reasons behind Transport Minister Pheng's words that there are more hidden reasons behind the changes.
1) The budget is still the same 500 billion baht for 10 lines with a 291km distance
2) 60 billion baht for 5 expressways with 65 km distance
3) Only the first 4 lines would be done--the red line commuters first and then the purple line and blue ring. The Green BTS would be later.
4) However, Pheng no longer mentions the Yellow LRT by claming that there are too few passengers despite the fact that there are many people living in the Bang Kapi-Lad Phrao area and a promise by previous Transport Minister Suriya.
This is a sure sign that the policy changes are according to the whim of ministers.
Furthermore, we really feel frightened about the conflict between Wang Nam Yom (headed by Somsak and Suriya) and the "Big House" (headed by Khunying Potjaman and Pheng) that is increasingly intensified along with the discrimination policy against the provinces that do not vote TRT.
Even the provinces that vote for TRT would get no aid if they vote for the wrong factions-- they vote against the "Big House."
The ongoing conflict such as between the "Big House" vs. Sudarat Faction in Bangkok and the "Big House" vs. Wang Namyom have effectively killed the Yellow Line along with the Orange Line despite the ready credit lines for the projects.

Minister Pheng's mass transit plan - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thairath and Manager Daily, November 2, 2005
Minister Pheng has come up with the followign plan for the mass transit system:
1) Mixed gauge (meter gauge/standard gauge) for the following sections
1.1) Rangsit - Ayutthaya - Ban Phachi
1.2) Lad Krabang - Chachongsao - Chonburi
1.3) Talingchan - Nakhon Pathom
2) Double tracking for the following routes
2.1) Nakhon Pathom - Nong Pladuk - Suphanburi
2.2) Chachongsao - Klong 19 - Wiharn Daeng
3) New line for Suphanburi - Ban Phachi - Wiharn Daeng as a new cargo route
Comments about the plan are in this thread on the forum.

Many decisions hinge on mass-transit plans - Bangkok Post, October 31, 2005
...When Pongsak Raktapongpaisal took over as transport minister in a recent cabinet reshuffle, he declared that changes from the original plan were needed. He proposed scrapping some parts of the planned routes, and substituting cheaper Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) or monorail systems for trains in some areas.
...But Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra later declared that the government would go ahead with the seven originally planned routes, based on a heavy-rail system that would bring suburban people into the central business district within 30 minutes for a maximum fare of 30 baht.
Ultimately, all property developers want is clarity, given the impact mass transit availability can have on land values, affecting both their costs and the prices of the homes they market to customers...

TOR for Red Line commuter and more on the mass transit routes - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thairath, October 29, 2005
There will be two version of TOR for the Red Line commuter as well as the Blue Ring and Purple Line.
1. Government to government - paid in agriculture products - only France, mainland China and Russia are keen to deal with this kind of payment.
2. International bidding - paid in cash - preferred by USA, Japan, South Korea, and Germany
Transport Minister Pheng said if the first version of the TOR fails to be approved by the government from France, mainland China and Russia after two month of negotiation, the second version would be called.
Transport Minister Pheng has admitted that the barter system for megaprojects (the first version of TOR) is really hard to implement, but it is not impossible to do so.
The specifications for the Red Line commuter:
1) Makkasan - Donmuang - Ayutthaya - Distance -> 73 km
Elevated tracks -> 24 km from Makkasan to Donmuang
Tracks At grade -> 49 km from Donmuang to Ayutthaya
22 Stations - 19 grade crossings
2) Bangsue - Bang Bumru - Nakhon Pathom - Distance -> 57 km
Elevated tracks -> 11 km from Bangsue to Bang Bumru
Tracks at grade -> 46 km from Bang Bumru to Nakhon Pathom
15 stations - 19 grade crossings
MOTC has approved a 3.8 billion baht fund for the Highway Department and related agencies to dig the tunnel and the flyover across the railway areas [grade crossing] as a way to save construction costs by 20 billion baht instead of having elevated track all the way from Donmuang to Ayutthaya and all the way from Bang Bumru (the station where the International Express stops on the Thonburi side) to Nakhon Pathom.
3) Purple line - all the same - 23 km elevated tracks
4) Blue Ring - all the same - 13 km elevated track Bangsue to Tha Phra, 9 km elevated track from Tha Phra to Bang Khae, 5 km underground across Rattanakosin Island from Hualamphong to Tha Phra

Many decisions hinge on mass-transit plans - Bangkok Post, October 31, 2005
...When Pongsak Raktapongpaisal took over as transport minister in a recent cabinet reshuffle, he declared that changes from the original plan were needed. He proposed scrapping some parts of the planned routes, and substituting cheaper Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) or monorail systems for trains in some areas.
...But Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra later declared that the government would go ahead with the seven originally planned routes, based on a heavy-rail system that would bring suburban people into the central business district within 30 minutes for a maximum fare of 30 baht.
Ultimately, all property developers want is clarity, given the impact mass transit availability can have on land values, affecting both their costs and the prices of the homes they market to customers...

Red Line commuter to be finished in 10 years instead of 5 years - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Than Setthakij, October 27-29, 2005
[During the election, critics claimed that TRT promises of new mass transit lines covering hundreds of kilometers in five years was not feasible, and at worst, a cynical campaign promise. After the election, the routes were cut back to a few lines of around 100 kilometers in length. Now comes the admission that even that will be completed in ten years, not five. More details of pending lines.]

Transport Minister Pheng has asked SRT to submit the plan for Red Line Commuter as shown here to the cabinet by the end of October 2005:
1) Bangsue - Donmuang - Rangsit - 24.6 km - 33.025 billion baht
2) Phayathai - Bangsue - Talingchan - 20.4 km - 27.410 billion baht
MRTA would also have to submit the plan for the following routes:
1) Purple line (Bangsue - Bang Yai - 23 km - 31.664 billion baht
2) Blue Ring (Bangsue - Tha Pra, Hua Lamphong - Bang Khae) - 27.2 km - 37.880 billion baht
The Red Line commuter along with Suvanabhum Airport Link extension along with other projects would not be completed in 5 years, but in 10 years instead. The claim is that it has to go slower to prevent traffic jams.
Further extension of Red Line commuter will have to undergo new studies before getting cabinet approval.
1) Rangsit - Ayutthya [to secure voters from the northern Bangkok suburbs] - 41.5 km - 11.955 billion baht
2) Talingchan - Nakhon Pathom [to secure voters from Salaya + Nakhon Pathom] - 42.6 km - 21.440 billion baht
3) Suvannabhum - Chonburi [to secure voters from the Eastern Seaboard] 50 km - 25.728 billion baht
[Note that there is no integration of Mahachai Railway within the list of Red Line commuter phase 2 extension despite of the claims made during the election in 2005.]
Furthermore, Minister Pheng asks SRT to study the following routes:
1) Nong Pladuk - Suphanburi rehabilitation to allow cargo line to bypass Bangkok - 78 km - 2.340 billion baht
2) Suphanburi - Ban Phachi lien as the replacement of defunct Suphanburi - Lopburi [Pa Wai] - 78 km - 7.000 billion baht
3) Ban Phachi - Wiharn Daeng line to link the northern line with the eastern line bypassing the busy Kaeng Khoi Junction - 30 km - 3.000 billion baht
4) Klong 19 - Wiharn Daeng Double tracking - 52 km - 4.000 billion baht
They are trying to use a barter system for the first seven locos from China as well as Chachongsao-Laem Chabang double tracking.

More details from the new mass transit lines - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Than Setthakij, October 20-22, 2005

1) Red Line Commuter
  Distance Civil works Rolling stock Control machinery
1.1) Bangsue - Rangsit 24.6 14.083 18.942 ?
1.2) Rangsit - Ayutthaya (pending) 41.5 10.875 10.375 0.190

2) Suvannabhhum Airport Link
  Distance Civil works Rolling stock Control machinery
2.1) Phyathai - Talingchan 20.4 12.410 15.000 ?
2.2) Talingchan - Nakhon Pathom (pending) 42.6 11.150 10.650 0.195
2.3) Suvannabhum - Chonburi (pending) 50.0 13.000 12.500 0.228

3) Purple Line
  Distance Civil works Rolling stock Control machinery
3.1) Bangsue - Bang Yai 23.0 14.800 18.864 ?

4) Blue Ring
  Distance Civil works Rolling stock
4.1) Bangsue - Thaphra 27.0 22.880 15.000
Hua Lamphong - Bangkhae      

The ticket price will be not be more than 20 baht. The pending sections would be implemented in either phase 2 or phase 1 if there is enough budget. The other routes (Orange Line, Red Line Commuter to Mahachai, the Purple Line to Rat Boorana, and of course BTS) would pushed into phase 2.

Transport Minister Pheng's plan - Budget cut to 120 billion baht - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager Daily, October 17, 2005
Premier Thaksin has approved MOTC's plan to cut the budget to 120 billion baht even though the tracks of the Red Line Commuter have to be extended to the following directions after 2008:
1) Northward to Chiang Rak to secure the voters in northern suburbs and to fix the final place for the new parliament at Thai Melon.
2) Eastward to Chonburi (Pattaya) to secure the voters from the eastern Seaboard and terminate the commuter service by Sprinter DMU to Chachongsao.
3) Westward to Nakhon Pathom to secure voters from Salaya
The rate is 15 baht fixed rate. Only Phase 1 would be done in 2008.
The details of each line:
1) Red Line Commuter
1.1) Bangsue - Rangsit (24.6 km) - Quadruple Tracks (4-tracks) cutting down the expense from 41 billion baht to 22 billion baht
1.2) Phyathai - Talingchan (21.3 km) - Double Tracks (2-tracks) cutting down the expense from 29 billion baht to 12 billion baht
2) Purple Line (Bangsue - Bang Yai - 23 km) - cutting the expense from 25 billion baht to 12 billion baht
3) Blue Ring
3.1) Phekasem Extension (Hua Lamphong - Bang Khae - 14 km) - cutting the expense from 50 billion baht to 25 billion baht
3.2) Blue Ring (Bangsue - Tha Phra - 13 km)
The capitalization for 1st phase is
1) Government bonds
2) New taxes
3) New surcharges
4) Service revenue
5) Subsidies from the private sector
The bidding would be started by the end of this year with invitations to mainland China, Russia, France, etc. The private sector must have the capital to run the turnkey project while the barter trade during the bidding would be applied as well.
Minister Pheng also ask for the creation of MTA by Royal Decree to run the mass transit system through both construction and capitalization. Phase 2 would be done through the national assembly by the end of March 2006.
After bidding, the construction will be started and done in 3 years for Phase 1 section with the ticket price of 15 baht flat rate.
Note: The extra saving and revenue should go into nationwide double tracking instead of 50,000 km of new asphalt roads to please vested interests against the will of the people. The nationwide double tracking would make the new license plate surcharge of 50,000 baht more reasonable to rural folks.
Those who live in Lad Phrao - Bang Kapi - Ram Khamhaeng area have booed Pheng's plan.

Transport Minister Pheng's plan - Budget cut to 199 billion baht - Bangkok Post, October 18, 2005
[Today the Post has an article that reports the budget was cut to 199 billion baht, not 120 as the Manager reports above.]
...Under the proposal, the budget for the construction of the first phase and other systems for the 25km Red Line railway from Bang Sue to Rangsit in Pathum Thani would be 33 billion baht, reduced from an initial estimate of 41 billion baht. The investment in another 21km Red Line from Phaya Thai to Taling Chan's construction would be 27 billion baht.
The 23km Purple Line from Bang Sue to Bang Yai in Nonthaburi would cost 31 billion baht, down from 25 billion baht, and the Blue Line from Hua Lamphong to Bang Khae and from Bang Sue to Tha Phra 37.8 billion baht.
Other spending included a future plan to extend the Red Line from Rangsit to Ayutthaya and from Taling Chan to Nakhon Pathom, and the Airport Rail Link from Suvarnabhumi airport to Chon Buri, the minister said.
The two extensions would require a budget of about 33.5 billion baht...

Public hearing on the Blue Ring - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager Daily and Naew Nah, October 15, 2005
The first public hearing on the Blue Ring shows that even though most people want the Blue Ring, they worry about the land expropriation, especially the area along Phetkasem road and Charan Sanitwongse Inner Ring. They are also concerned about the construction of ventilation shafts for the underground section in Rattnakosin Island and the park and ride.
MRTA said that cost cutting measures will enable MRTA to create the Blue Ring within a 70 billion baht budget. 49 billion baht is for the Rattanakosin extension (Hualamphogn-Tha Phra Bang Khae) and 25 billion baht is for the Blue Ring (Bangsue - Charansanitwonse - Tha Phra).
The current state of the detailed design plans are:
Elevated sections: 100% done
Underground section through Rattanakosin Island: 50% done
The detailed designs will be completed in March 2006.
MRTA has designed many types of gates for people to choose as a way to minimize detrimental impact. There are two choices for stations:
1) Central platform
2) Side platform - 4-meter wider than the central platform version, but cheaper to construct and easier to manage traffic flow.
Note: Thai comments on Blue ring are here and here.

Local press comments on mass transit
[Now the media outlets like Khomchadluek (owned by the Nation Multimedia Group) have come forward to point out irregularities in both the mass transit system and other railway issues.]
"Commentary" by Somphongse Ongkarn, translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Khomchadluek, October 12, 2005
The Government cares more about automobile vested interest so they add 50,000 km of asphalt roads for new automobiles with tax money instead of financing the new mass transit lines such as Denchai-Chiang Rai,etc. This is despite the claim about a new tax for the mass transit system.
They are going to siphon the taxpayer's money to their own cronies who run the contractor businesses once the roads have more and more potholes and boost more car purchases to please other cronies who run the automobile business.

SUBWAY EXPANSION: French technology to cut costs - The Nation, October 7, 2005

Minister Pheng modifying the MRTA Orange Line route - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager, September 14-15, 2005
MOTC Minister Phongsak Raktaphongsephaisarn (Minister Pheng) told the press about the discussion with SRT, OTP, MRTA about the seven mass transit route and the conclusions are:
1) Shorten the Orange Line to be a feeder for Suvannabhum Airport Link [Bang Kapi - Makkasan] with a possibility to be a feeder monorail or even BRT.
2) Splitting the Orange Line to Bang Kapi - Makkasan and Yommaraj - Bang Bamru, Liunking Southern Line with the Eastern Line at Yommaraj and Bang Bumru [the first station after crossing Chao Phraya - even International Express Stops at this station].
3) Red Line Commuter will be underground when they pass Rattanakosin Island to Thonburi--a revival of the defunct Hopewell... State of the art tunneling (such as TBMs) through Rattanakosin Island is a must to prevent any damage to significant places within Rattanakosin Island.
4) No decision whether the Purple Line would end up at Bangsue Station or at Bangkhen Station.
5) No decision on if the Purple Line will become BRT or still be MRT.
These decisions are to double the number of daily passengers for Suvannabhum Airport Link and Red line commuter. Furthermore, this decision has cut the budget for the Orange Line from 73.268 billion baht to 50 billion baht if the system is still MRT. It would be cut further to 10 billion baht if the new Orange Line is BRT.
Note: Those who live in Ram Khamhaeng and Rattanathibet area have booed the idea of a BRT. They want MRT so badly that any decision to downgrade MRT to BRT would meet strong public disapproval. Therefore, Minister Pheng has to keep the Orange Line/Purple Line as a heavy rail MRT at all costs even he has to shorten the routes.

MRTA pushing the extension through Rattnakosin Island to Bang Khae - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thairath, September 16, 2005 and Dailynews, September 16, 2005
MRTA Governor told the press at SC Park Hotel on September 15 that MRTA would find a way to dig tunnels for the extension through Rattnakosin Island without opening the road surface. This was during the seminar with BMTD [consultant for MRTA] along with the contractors from Japan, Germany and Mainland China that have expertise on digging tunnels without opening the road surface as well as other related agencies and media.
The Bang Khae extension has to pass through Rattnakosin Island, so the new technique for tunnel digging without opening the road surface, especially at Wang Boorapha Station (near Samyod Intersection, Saphan Lek Bone and Wang Boorapha area) and Sanamchai Station (near Wat Pho and Ban Moh). This also covers Saphan Phan Fah Station of Purple Line as well.
This new technique requires an extra budget of 1 billion baht/km from the regular rate of 3 billion baht/km (thus total 4 billion baht/km). The stations at the narrow space would require stacking station levels (like Silom Station of the subway) while the wide area would require a double tunnel as a substitute for a single big tunnel.
The construction details done by consultants would be done in March 2006. After that, MRTA would call PQ to select the right contractors which takes two months and MRTA would call a new bid for the contractors to handle this delicate section in June 2006. MRTA would issue a Royal Decree for the land expropriation with approval from MOTC.
If the contractors discover some ancient ruins or artifacts within the tunnel areas, MRTA would have to invite experts from the Fine Arts Department to investigate and remove to exhibit the ancient artifacts in the same way as Athens Subways has done without modifying the route. MRTA would do their best to avoid school and temple areas.
MRTA decided to stick with the old route through New Road instead of going through Yaowaraj Road due to engineering problems to go further from Saphan Han (the end of Yaowaraj Road). MRTA would make minimal land expropriation for gates and the places to move the drill heads underground due to the fact that the price of land around Yaowaraj is so high that it has to be paid in gold bars covering the expropriated land.
The procedure for the consultant to handle this project is:
1) The first three months for Environmental Survey and Assessment
2) The later five months for the detailed design
This procedure would apply to all the subway projects that pass through Rattnakosin Island such as
1) Blue Line (Hua Lamphong-Bang Khae)
2) Purple Line (Bangsue-Samsen, Samsen-Rat Boorana)

SRT using the Taipei Mass Transit System as a model for the Red Line - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager Daily, October 11, 2005
The SRT Governor said the Red Line Commuter will be in two parts.
1 Northern Line - Elevated Track while keeping the existing system as is.
2 Eastern Line - from Phayathai to Yommaraj to Samsen, Bangsue, Bang Khen, Laksi, Donmuang, Rangsit and Chaing Rak as the northern extension of the Suvannabhum Airport Link using standard gauge (1.435 m) so as to use Suvannabhum Airport Link rolling stock from Siemens with a maximum speed of 160 kph.
The elevated section of Suvannabhum Airport Link will end at Rangsit and then it will be at grade all the way from Rangsit to Chiang Rak (the station closest to Thammasart Rangsit - if you do not count Thammasart Rangsit stop as a station). This would allow transit from Ayutthaya to Bangkok within 60 minutes.
SRT would apply the result from the Taipei mass transit system which uses the SYSTRA system on Red Line Commuter.
SRT has made an order of 33 carriages of Suvannabhum Airport Link Rolling stocks from Siemens. Eight sets for Suvannabhum Airport Transit/Express. The second order for the northern extension would follow. The budget will be within 500 billion baht even though the government wants to make a cut to 200 billion baht.

Alsthom planning to grab the Bangsue-Bang Yai line by introducing a u-shaped structure - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager, October 7, 2005 and Than Setthakij, October 9-13, 2005
SYSTRA, a French Firm, is introducing the u-shape via duct structure when Minister Pheng is going to take a tour of the Taipei mass transit system which was constructed by using SYSTRA system as the way to cut construction costs for elevated tracks by 30% (770 million baht/km vs. the current 1100 million baht/km). This system is also supposed to speed up the project by 60% with less noise and vibration along with less dust and other pollution.
However Minister Pheng is planning to cut the budget by 65% by reducing the height from 17 meters to 12 meters... The plan to cut down the number of stations from Bangsue to Bang Yai would create another dilemma. Cutting too much would fuel public angry from those how live along Rattnathibet Road.
This kind of measure from Alsthom is to snatch MRTA from Siemens by locking the system to allow only Alsthom rolling stock even though Mr Thoedsak Sthhamanop claimed that SYSTRA's u-shape viaduct would still allow the heavy rail cars of Siemens to run.
If it is really a successful design, MOTC would introduce this SYSTRA structure for elevated sections such as the Red Line Commuter (Bangsue - Rangsit - Chiang Rak, Bangsue - Talingchan), and Purple Line.
So far, there are four cities that use the SYSTRA structure, Sandiago (Chile - 2 lines 13 km) Delhi (India - 22 km), Dubai (UAE - 65 km) and Taipei (Taiwan - 13 km). This u-shape structure is very similar to Bangna - Bang Pakong Expressway which uses an H-shape structure (done by Bilfinger and Ch. Karnchang PCL).
The extra charge to the consultant for the new structure is worth paying since a new system could save the budget by billions of US dollars.
Note: Minister Pheng has a clear policy to cut down the section from Bangsue to Wang Boorapha even though the voters from Samsen and Banglamphoo would vote against TRT out if MOTC refuses to implement this Bangsue-Wang Boorapah section. However, Minister Pheng has no clear policy on the section from Wang Boorapha to Rat Borana. If he refuses to implement the section from Wang Boorapha to Rat Boorana, TRT would lose votes in Thonburi and even Phra Padaeng...

More notes on Red Line Commuter from insiders - complied and translated by Wisarut Bholsithi
1) To allow the Southern cargo line to connect with the Northern and Northeastern and Laem Chabang Port at Ban Phachi, the following project has to be revived along with the new project:
1.1) Suphanburi - Ban Phachi (80 km)
1.2) Ban Phachi - Wiharn Daeng to connect with Kaeng Koi - Klong 19 Bypass to allow Northern cargo train to Laem Chabang Port without going to Kaeng Khoi.
2) The interchange between the Red Line Commuter and intercity train will be created at Chiang Rak Noy. Dual gauge and gauge conversion may be applied on the section from Rangsit to Ban Phachi.
3) MOTC will ask SRT to convert all the Diesel Electric Locos to be powered by NGV. Those that cannot be converted will not be allowed to enter the Bangkok area within the tracks of the Red Line Commuter (Chiang Rak Noy and Lad Krabang).
The payment for engine conversion by PTT officers will be paid by the extra charge on NGV sold to SRT.
4) New intercity bus terminal would be at Donmuang Airport.
5) New inland port at Tha Ruea (for Pasak River) has to be constructed.
6) Project from Hualamphong to Mahachai may have to be delayed unless the demand from the people of Mahachai grows so high that the section from Yommaraj to Mahachai has to be constructed.
Note: The deal to clean up SRT debts between MOTC and MOF is the main reason for the latest modification of the Red Line commuter plan. The main features of the modifications are a new center at Chiang Rak Noy (with connections to the expressway and Phaholyothin Road). This is with the consent of the SRT Board of Directors, but not the SRT worker's union. Makkasan and part of Phaholyothin Cargo would be converted for commercial development proposed by the Treasury Department.
Many Railfans have bitterly argued that the conversion of engines would require the permanent alteration of diesel engines so as to optimize the NGV engine. This would weaken the structure of the locos, add extra maintenance cost, and shorten the lifespan of the locos. This is seen as a sign of corruption to siphon money from SRT.
The reason for the restriction of the diesel electric engines from passing through greater Bangkok area is due to the fact that PTT PCL (owned by politicians) want to milk money from SRT and Treasury by forcing SRT to convert virtually all diesel electric locos to use NGV with an extra charge of 1-2 baht/kg (from 8.50 baht/kg for the market price of NGV) to pay for the engine conversion. Many SRT workers have complained that the engine conversion would shorten the lifespan of locos in the same way as NGV engines in BMTA aircon buses. They prefer Euro 3 diesel engines for locos instead.
The section from Rangsit to Chiang Rak Noy (at grade electrified section) would help TRT secure the conservative voters in northern Bangkok suburbs as well as the voters from industrial estates in northern Bangkok suburbs--at the expense of Democrat supporters in Ram Khamhaeng and Lad Phrao.

Conclusions on Red Line Commuter - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager, October 7, 2005
Minister Pheng has asked SRT to deal with both railways and Red Line Commuters as follows:
1) If possible, converting diesel-electric loco to be NGV with a joint venture with PTT PCL--after the successful testing of GEA Loco No. 4557 which had been converted to use NGV. This is [supposedly] a saving on the level sections and a 33% savings for the steep track like Kaeng Khoi to Pak Chong.
SRT has to pay an extra 1-2 baht/kg of NGV gas to PTT PCL as a way to pay back to PTT PCL if the NGV price is now 8.50 baht/kg.
2) Extending the Red Line commuter from Rangsit to Ban Phachi with a new transportation center at Chiang Rak Noy to cut down both air and noise pollution. The transfer point with the intercity will be at Chiang Rak Noy while the cargo transportation transfer point will be at Ban Pha Chi.
3) Speed up the construction of Red line Commuters, Purple Line and Blue Ring.
3.1) Red Line Commuter will be from Makkasan to Rangsit using Hopewell pillars with the cut of intercity trains (meter gauge) and expressways so as to cut the budget from 110 billion baht to 36 billion baht.
3.2) The Purple Line will follow the old route with new cost cutting measures even though it still allows heavy rail rolling stock to be used. There will be less stations with no frills so as to cut costs by 65% and shorten the construction time by 60%. This is to win Bangkokian and Nonthaburi voters in the next election through speedy implementation from 4 years to 2 years.
Commentary: Most SRT workers and Thai Railfans said "converting GEA and HID to use NGV adds extra maintenance costs while shortening the lifespan of locomotives in the same way they have ruined BMTA aircon buses. This is a sure sign of callousness and corruption within MOTC!..."
Some people accuse Minister Pheng of benefiting from route readjustment. [Pheng is heavily involved in real estate.]
...This transportation center at Chiang Rak Noy makes no sense at all so MOTC and OTP would get booed by many people, especially those from rural areas who come on intercity train to seek their jobs in Bangkok through the agent at Hua Lamphong.
Even worse, the cut will chop the Northern route and Southern route from central command at Hua Lamphong...
This action is a sure sign of cost cutting that wrecks havoc on public infrastructure and ransacking the public budget.
Also: Manager thread with many booing MOTC and OTP for meddling in mass transit plans

First stage of Purple Line given the nod - Effort to scale down cost of project by 25% - Bangkok Post, October 6, 2005
Transport Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal has given the go-ahead for construction of the first stage of the Purple Line railway extension, between Bang Sue and Bang Yai. There was enough demand for the route from commuters who travel regularly into the centre of the city, he said yesterday...
The second-stage extension, from Khae Rai to Bang Khen, would be built later as part of an outer railway loop that will include Bang Khen to Kaset Navamin, Pak Nam, Bang Na and Onnuj...

Pattaya Beach Bus - October 5, 2005
...The modern microbuses seat thirty people in air-conditioned comfort and literally 'embody' Pattaya's image as a vibrant, fresh-and-fun leisure destination. The bus bodies sport bright and breezy designs...
ROUTES
All routes start out from Big C supermarket, Sukhumvit Road, Pattaya.
Green Line:
Big C - South Pattaya Road - Pattaya 2 Road (reverse route = Beach Road) - Dolphin Roundabout - Naklua Road - Soi Potisan - Sukhumvit Road (back to Big C).
Yellow Line:
Big C - Sukhumvit Road - Thepprasit Road - Thappraya Road over the hill - Pattaya 3 Road - North Pattaya Road - Dolphin Roundabout - North Pattaya Road - Sukhumvit Road (back to Big C)
Red Line:
Big C - Sukhumvit Road - Soi Chaiyapruek - Jomtien Beach Road - Dongtan Corner - Thappraya Road over the hill - Pattaya 2 Road (reverse route = Beach Road) - Dolphin Roundabout - Naklua Road - Banglamung Police Station - Sukhumvit Road - Kratinglai intersection (u-turn) - Sukhumvit Road - Soi Chaiyapruek (u-turn) -
Big C.
Fares
A 30-baht one-way ticket can be used on any of the routes. Visitors will also be able to purchase one-day passes at 90 baht, three-day passes at 180 baht, and one-month passes for 900 baht...

Map here
Also: Dynamic Pattaya - All Action Resort

Further cuts on Red Line Commuter - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Komchadluek, September 26, 2005
Transport Minister Pheng is going to make a further cut on red line commuter (Rangsit - Mahachai) so they can save 200 billion baht for the following purposes:
1) Nationwide double tracking
2) Extension from Talingchan to Salaya (if not Nakhon Pathom) and from Rangsit to Ayutthaya (if not Ban Phachi).
This measure is going to be handled by 4 subcommittees.
1) Route decisions, design and construction headed by Mahidol Jantharangkoon.
2) The new organization to run the mass transit systems in Bangkok - to snatch BTS from the hands of BMA through a legal channel instead of a hostile takeover headed by Mahidol Jantharangkoon.
3) Project financial scheme headed by Mahidol Jantharangkoon.
4) Negotiators with BMCL, BMA and BTS headed by Pornchai Nuchsuwan.
The first committee is going modify the Purple Line [Bangyai - Bang Khen] while cutting Taopoon - Wang Boorapha.
The further cut is to cut the number of rails from 10 tracks to 3 tracks for the Red Line commuter from Rangsit to Mahachai.
It is also to finance the extension from Talingchan to Nakhonpathom and from Rangsit to Ayutthya.
Furthermore, MOTC is asking BTS and BMCL to share the same maintenance center to cut down costs. The financial subcommittee has another duty to develop the land along the routes for the new schools, hospitals, and parks.
The final modified routes along with the investment plan would be within two months while the bidding for all lines will be done by February 2006 with the priority readjustment in the next 30 days and the subcommittees are to report to MOTC every two weeks.

OTP plan to please Pheng - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager and Thairath, September 23, 2005
OTP has submitted a plan to please the MOTC Minister Pheng. The new plan is to cut down the Mass Transit budget from 500 billion to 400 billion baht and the savings would go to the nationwide double tracking.
1) Modify the Purple Line route from Bang Sue to Bang Yai to Bangsue to Bang Khen station while keeping the Purple Line as heavy rail due to strong public demand and to feed the Red line Commuter (Rangsit - Mahachai)
2) Turn Yellow Line LRT to be Yellow Line BRT (Lad Phrao - Bang Kapi - Sri Nakharin - Samrong)
3) Keep the western Red Line commuter (Bangsue - Bang son - Taling Chan) intact and ready for bidding in January-February 2006. This line will be extended to Makkasan to feed Suvannabhum Airport Express.
4) Speed up the Blue Ring that passes Premier Thaksin's Palace to be ready be bidding in early 2006.
5) Modify the second section of the Purple Line to be Hualamphong - Rat Boorana for Phase 2 investment.
6) Turning the Orange Line MRT into an Orange Line monorail from Bangkapi to Ramkhamhaeng Station of the Airport Link near Klong Tan intersection.
7) Approve the new act to control BMCL and BTSC and set up the committee to deal with private concession holders so they can spend the budget to handle the popular BTS extensions.
8) Approve the Ring BRT to run along Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring.

Pheng and nationwide double tracking - trying to woo NESDB to approve the project - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thairath and Matichon, September 19, 2005
Minister Pheng is trying to woo NESDB and the plan for nationwide double tracking to support the logistics plan. However, they have to wait until the have finalized the plans for Bangkok mass
transit System since MOTC is going to fund the nationwide double tracking by the saving from the downsized Bangkok mass transit system through canceled routes and shortened routes with fewer stations.
SRT said there are five routes that need to get double tracking immediately with a total price tag of 56.7754 billion baht due to popular demand even though SRT officers are studying on the routes and the design of the routes to pass the EIA so they can submit the plan to the cabinet by the end of 2005.
1) Chachongsao - Sri Racha - Laem Chabang (87 km - 5.3 billion baht)
2) Lopburi - Nakhon Sawan (150 km)
3) Chachoengsao - Klong 19 - Kaeng Khoi (90 km)
4) Kaeng Khoi - Pakchong - Nakhon Ratchasima. (130 km)
5) Prachuab Khirikhan - Surat Thani (300 km)
After finishing all 5 routes, the 2nd phase would be
1) Nakhon Sawan - Phitsanulok
2) Nakhon Pathom - Prachuab Khirikhan along with the track rehab
3) Ban Phai - Nam Phong route
4) Kaeng Khoi - Bua Yai route [250 km]
Note: Such massive undertaking compels SRT to triple the fleets of track maintenance machines. This will help SRT to rehab the troublesome routes such as the route from Nakhon Pathom to Hua Hin in a speedy manner. This track from Nakhon Pathom to Hua Hin which has become so deteriorated that the max speed in some sections is 30 kph--unacceptable by any standard. Train 781 (Bangsue - Padang Besar) derailed on September 18 at Rajburi due to the heavy rain that eroded the base of the tracks.

Insiders' info about modifications to the seven mass transit lines - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Prachachart Thurakij, September 14-17, 2005
The insiders told the correspondents from Prachachat Thurakij that the consultants has asked the government to keep all the heavy rail systems for economies of scale with a decision to cut down some routes and move those with a lower priority to Phase 2 [start in 2010].
This would cut the cost from 550 billion baht to 241 billion baht for Phase 1 while moving phase 2 to 2010-1017 with a price tag of 254 billion baht.
The first phase for mass transit line (2005-2009) is to function as feeder lines for Red line Commuter/Suvannabhum Airport Link along with the completion of the Blue Ring MRT.

1) Purple Line
Before: Bangsue - Bang Yai - (23 km, 16 stations, 50.709 billion baht - all elevated)
Now: Bangsue - Phra Nang Klao Bridge (12 km, 9 stations 25 billion baht- all elevated)

The list of nine stations along the Purple Line is
1) Taopoon
2) Bang Son [feeder for red line commuter]
3) Wong Sawang
4) Tiwanon
5) Ministry of Public Health [replacement of Rewadee Station]
6) Nonthaburi Center [replacement for Kae Rai Station]
7) Sri Porn Sawan (Central Rattnathibet)
8) Nonthaburi 1 (should be Sanambin Nam if closer to Sanambin Nam intersection)
9) Phra Nang Klao bridge (connecting with Chao Phraya Express boat pier to Ministry of Commerce)

Phra Nangklao-Bangyai section would be done later in Phase 2 since the EIA on that section is not done yet. The reason for Taopoon Station is due to the fact that there are ready passengers for this line at Taopoon and the consultant has come up with the number of passengers for each station along the Purple Line as follows:
Taopoon - 30,000 passengers a day
Ministry of Public Health - 25,000 passengers a day
Tiwanon - 12,000 passengers a day
Wong Sawang - 8,000 passengers a day
Nonthaburi - 3500 passengers a day
Phra Nanklao - 2800 passengers a day
Sri Porn Sawan - 2500 passengers a day
Bang Son - 2100 passengers a day
Nonthaburi 1 (Sanabin Nam) - 1000 passengers a day

Another option is to make a full length of 23 km from Bangsue to Bang Yai but some stations cut due to the sparse number of passengers such as:
1) Nonthaburi [Sanambin Nam] -1000 passengers a day
2) Sai Mah - 1800 passengers a day
3) Bang Rak Yai - 800 passengers a day

Furthermore, the stations along purple line would be smaller than the initial plans so as to use only footpaths instead of land expropriation. This measure would cut the budget by 500 million baht. Further cut is to reduce the number of rolling stock from 24 sets to 18 sets while using only 3-car formation instead of 6-car formation to fit into the new scheme.

Before: Bangsue - Wangboorapha - Rat Boorana (20 km - 64.874 billion baht)
Now: Wang Boorapha - Rat Boorana (12.2 km - 44.874 billion baht)
This line would either connect with Blue Line or have to wait until phase 2 (after 2010)

Before: Bang Kapi - Bang Bumru (24 km 82.688 billion baht)
Now: Bang Kapi - Thailand Cultural Center (12 km - 40 billion baht)
Either connect with Blue Ring at Thailand Cultural center or Shift to Phase 2

NO REDUCTION Plan for Bangsue - Tha Phra Ring Line (13 km - 25.101 billion baht) and
Hua Lamphong - Bang Khae since (14 km - 49.902 billion baht) due to its significance as the main Ring Line.

Rangsit - Mahachai (65 km) - split into two phases to save money
Phase 1: Bangsue - Hua Lamphong (7.5 km -passing Chitladda Palace)
Hua Lamphong - Taksin center (7 km -connecting Mahachai line with the main trunk line)
Bangsue - Talingchan (15 km - going across Chao Phraya)
Bangsue - Phayathai (6 km - the extension of Airport Link)

Phase 2: The rest of the red lien commuter (Bangsue - Rangsit)

BTS:
Phase 1: Onnut - Samrong (8.9 km - 15.190 billion baht)
Phrannok - National Stadium (Pin Klao Extension - 6.8 km - 16.72 billion baht for the tunnel)
Saphan Taksin - Taksin Intersection (2.2 km - 3.42 billion baht)
Taksin Intersection - Phetkasem (4.5 km - 7.16 billion baht)

Phase 2: Samrong - Samut Prakarn (7.9 km - 13.34 billion baht)
Mochit - Saphan Mai (12 km - 19.99 billion baht)

COMMENTARY: Changes that cause confusion - Bangkok Post, September 14, 2005
...But Mr Pongsak had a better idea. He wanted to shelve the Purple Line, as well as the Orange One, in favour of other lines with better business prospects. The single-model system, for him, was too expensive. He believed that it might be cheaper and make more business sense to install either the express bus running on special lanes, or the light rail or mono rail on some lines.
The public and the government got confused about the new look of the system and asked why it needed the change. The Finance Ministry wondered why he wanted to mess up the scheme with several forms of transport instead of using a single model currently used by the BTS and underground train so that all lines can be easily linked in the long run...

Purple and Orange lines not derailed - But the projects may become smaller - Bangkok Post, September 13, 2005
...A source at the OTTPP said the agency would propose a light rail system for the Purple Line and the monorail system for the Orange Line...

Move to build Red Line in stages - The Nation, September 8, 2005
...The first task for the top-priority line will be laying tracks between Bang Sue and Rangsit - a distance of 24.6 kilometres - costing Bt28.47 billion...

Matichon editor's viewpoint toward changing mass transit policies - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Matichon, September 5, 2005
If there is an emergency to change the policy of the government, the government should clarify the issue of flip-flop policy along with the details of the policy to minimize public outrage. For example:
1) The changing Purple Line (Bangsue-Bang Yai) to BRT (Bang Yao-Bang Khen)
1.1) When will the Red Line Commuter be constructed and finished to serve BRT?
1.2) Does the government want to scrap the Purple Line to please vested interests along Krungthep - Nonthaburi Road?
1.3) What about the BRT route from Bang Yai to Bang Bon and Wongwain Yai to Ratboorana as the replacement of the Purple Line?
2) The changing Orange Line (Bangkapi-Bang Buru) to BRT (Bang Kapi-Klong Tan)
2.1) Is the Yellow Line BRT (Lad Phrao-Bang Kapi-Sri Nakharin) a substitute for the Orange Line?
2.2) What about those who live In Thonburi?
There are better alternatives to revitalize the Purple Line-Orange Line instead of introducing a BRT route:
1) the Suvanabhumi Airport Link should be modified to "Suvanabhumi Commuter" only so more funds from Suvanabhumi Airport Link could be used to revitalize the Purple Line.
2) Applying public-private participation as Blue Line to finance Purple Line-Orange Line. The higher fare to cover the construction would be okay.
3) Scraping unnecessary projects such as wasted expressways and the underground tunnel at the Government House. The modification of Government House could be scrapped to finance the Purple Line-Orange Line.

Scrapping transit lines will hurt TRT - Bangkok Post, September 6, 2005
Khao Sod Editorial, Sept 4 - The government's decision to scrap the Purple and Orange subway lines and replace them with a cheaper passenger bus system will have severe repercussions not only on the ruling Thai Rak Thai party, but also commuters and business operators in Bangkok...
By scrapping the two main subway lines, the ruling party will lose its credibility in the eyes of the city voters. How could the party announce the project without making a detailed study into its cost and benefits, as well as its viability?
Not surprisingly, Bangkok commuters were furious when they heard that the promise would not be kept. The next time Thai Rak Thai utters some grand idea, everyone will have to think twice...

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