Skytrain News 2005

Skytrain breaks 500,000 passengers in a day barrier - translated and summarized from Thairath, December 14, 2005
BTS told the press on December 13 that it has successfully broken the 500,000 passengers a day barrier on December 9, 2005. The max number of passengers was 537,328 on December 9, 2005, dwarfing the previous record of 476,191 passengers on November 16, 2005 (Loy Krathong).
The top 5 stations on December 9, 2005:
1) Siam Station
2) Onnut
3) Mochit
4) Victory Monument
5) Saladaeng station
The reasons for the surge of passengers:
1) Long weekend
2) Siam Paragon opening
3) The Friday talk of Khun Sondhi at Lumpini Park
BTS has carried 562,290,989 passengers from December 5, 1999 to December 5, 2005. The average number of passengers is 425,000 a day on weekdays, up from the first year of services by 204%. Even just this year (January 1, 2005 - December 5, 2005), there are already 116,919,617 passengers--up by 9.06% from the same period the previous year.
The steady growth of the number of passengers can be described as follows:
1) Growth of passengers (9.65% during weekdays, 8.96% during the weekends) due to the surge of regular passengers--mostly from working adults.
2) Subway as a feeder for BTS--the number of passengers who make a change at Asok Station is now at 24,001 passengers a day, up from the last year by 37.47% while the number of passengers at Onnut terminal is now 38,050 a day, up from the previous year by 10.54%.
There are 10,000 passenger trips between Onnut and Asok station in one day--the most frequent trip of all.
3) The continuing fuel hike has compelled many passengers to ride BTS.
4) The growth of residential buildings, offices, and shopping malls along BTS.


On the forum: Taksin Extension - the next hurdle for BMA is BTS?
- Prachachart Thurakij, December 12-14, 2005

BTS boasts increasing passengers
- translated and summarized from Dailynews, December 7, 2005
Dr Anat Abhabhiorom said that after the six year anniversary on December 5, 2005, the number of passengers is climbing from an average 150,000 passengers a day to an average 400,000-420,000 passengers a day with 8-9 million baht a day revenue. After subtracting the daily expenses of 3 million baht, BTS has net revenue of 5-6 million baht a day to pay back the loan and debts.
So far, December 2 has 465,000 passengers a day--very high indeed even though not as many as Loy Krathong Day which has the daily number of passengers at 467,000. So far, the number of passengers is growing by 8-9%, thanks to the continuing fuel hike and the increasing number of regular customers from the building and shops along the routes. It is an expectation that the average number of passengers would reach 430,000 a day and the peak of each week would be on Friday and festival days--with an expected number of passengers of nearly 500,000 due to the opening of Siam Paragon on December 9, 2005 and the upcoming extension across Chao Phraya to Taksin Road (Wongwian Yai) by the end of 2006 which would add even more passengers.
The concession would end in the next 24-25 years. The concession has allowed BTS to raise the retail ticket price from 10-40 baht to 15-45 baht (the maximum). However, BTS has decided to freeze the ticket price for the time being. BTS is going to draft a plan before signing the contract with BMA for the Taksin extension--which asks BTS to add more sets of rolling stock (5 sets is the possible max number) to meet the steadily climbing demands.


Subway-Skytrain passenger numbers still steadily rising
- translated and summarized from Than Setthakij, October 23-26, 2005
The average number of subway passenger on weekdays: 195,000 passengers a day, up from 190,000 passengers a day in the previous year
The average number of Subway passenger on weekends: 170,000 passengers a day
The average revenue: 3.5 million baht
Now, 60% of passengers use stored value cards, compared to 40% in previous years.
The target of 200,000 subway passengers a day will be reached in 2006.
The current rate for token - 14-36 baht
The current rate of stored value card - 12-31 baht
The student discount card - 10-25 baht
Children and senior citizens - 7-18 baht
This rate will be effective until July 2, 2006. The new rate will be declared in January, 2006 to be effective in July 3, 2006.
BTS daily passengers has been nearly 400,000 passengers a day.
The average number of Skytrain passengers on Monday-Thursday: 400,000 passengers a day.
The average number of Skytrain passengers on Friday: 450,000 passengers a day.
The average number of Skytrain passengers on Saturday: 300,000 passengers a day.
The average number of Skytrain passengers on Sunday: 200,000 passengers a day.


BTS installs new version of TVMs
- translated and summarized from Manager Daily, October 18, 2005
BTSC has installed new versions of TVMs (the Integrated Ticketing Machines) that accept both coins and banknotes for single trips--up to 10 single trips.
Coins: 5 baht, 10 baht
Banknotes: 20 baht, 50 baht, 100 baht
These TVMs would give change as 5 baht and 10 baht coins and will operate from 6am to midnight.
These TVMs have been installed in the following stations since October 15, 2005
1) Chitlom
2) Asok
3) Phromphongse
4) Victory Monument
5) Saladaeng

Smart Card System for BTS - translated and summarized from Thairath and Manager, September 19, 2005
BTS has chosen Singapore Technology to install the smart card system with a price tag of 185 million baht. Singapore Technology would install the smart card system at Asoke and Mochit first and then Singapore Technology would train BTS workers to handle the installation of smart card system at the other stations. They expect the smart card system installation to be done in August 2006. There will be 2 holes in the smart card readers, one for the single ticket and the other for stored value ticket and 30-day pass.
BTS is going to negotiate with BMA and MTA for the joint ticket system in many relating issues such as revenue sharing to encourage more to use the mass transit system.
Note: The Smart card TVMs have shown up at Asoke, Mochit and Victory Monument even though they are not operating yet.

Thonburi people say "yes" to BTS extension, "no" to Taksin Center and BTS route modification - translated and summarized from Komchadluek, Manager Daily, Dailynews, Thairath, August 8, 2005
At the public hearing at Rajabhat University of Ban Somdej Chaophraya at 2pm on August 7, 2005, about 1100 local people attended. The local people say 'no' to Taksin Center since it requires extensive land expropriation (175 rai, 1703 families, and 5.3 billion baht) to remove many historical communities around the area.
The local Thonburi people feel convinced that Taksin Center would not ameliorate the traffic jam in the area, it only worsens traffic jams due to the giant plaza allowing the rich elite to exploit the poorer local people. OTP also refuses to come and talk with local people at all during this public hearing. They just send the representatives from six consultants participating in that project instead.
Furthermore, the local people prefer not to modify the BTS route to be much closer to Taksin Center since it requires another land expropriation which local people never want.
The consultant told the angry local people that this project has been under extensive study and the government has a clear policy to build it anyway. This Taksin Center will be like Mochit 2 connecting the Red Line commuter to Mahachai with BTSC Skytrain and MRTA Subway along with the intercity bus terminal. The consultant said they will bring the local people's viewpoints to OTP so as to rectify this wrong by the end of this year. The local people said they will be back on August 10 to see if OTP is listening to the people at all.

Premier Thaksin asking Germany about monorails - translated and summarized from Manager, August 3, 2005
Premier Thaksin has invited the outgoing German Ambassador (Herrn. Fon Steschow) to talk with him about the monorail projects after German firms installed systems for China and Malaysia. This type of monorail can constructed faster than the BTS Skytrain and at cheaper prices.
The outgoing German ambassador told Premier Thaksin that Germany has the best monorail system in the world which has been installed to Shanghai (China) and KL (Malaysia). He will do his best to get good government connections in Berlin to assist Thailand.
Note: The monorail installed in Shanghai is actually MAGLEV while the KL Monorail was done by a Malay firm. It might be that the Manager correspondents have mixed up the facts and should actually have cited the Shanghai Metro and KLIA Express (both done by Siemens but not monorails).


Fuel hikes adding more Skytrain passengers
- translated and summarized from Dailynews, July 8, 2005
After a series of fuel hikes, the number of passengers has shot up from 380,000 a day to about 400,000 a day. The peak was on Loy Krathong Day in 2004 when there was about 450,000 passengers a day.
This has compelled BTSC to run more sets of rolling stock--from 31 sets to 33 sets a day so as to shorten the interval during the rush hour from 2 minutes, 40 seconds to 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

Land expropriation for the Pinklao extension of the Skytain - translated and summarized from Dailynews, July 8, 2005 and Matichon, July 8, 2005
The seminar on the Pinklao extension of the Skytrain in Krasatsuek 2 Room, the Twin Tower Hotel at 10:30am on July 7, 2005 had 400 attendants. The results were:
1) A 7.7 km Subway line with 5 stations since it must pass through Rattanakosin Island.
2) 20-meter deep tunnel with a price tag of 24.893 billion baht. BMA is investing 19.856 billion baht for the construction while BTSC would invest 5.037 billion baht for the new sets of rolling stocks and signals. This is 3-4 times expensive than the elevated version. The 20-meter depth tunnel is to avoid hitting the support pillars of the buildings which are 4-meter deep.
3) This line requires the land expropriation of 100 houses around Hua Chiaw Hospital [near Bo Bae Textile Market] and at Fai Chai Intersection] so as to construct the station gates and install ventilators.
4) The other 150 families living along this route would be under temporary interruption
5) After opening this route, it will generate the additional 140,000 passengers a day from the existing 400,000 passengers a day
6) Most of the attendants approve of this project since it is underground but they are really worried about the land expropriation at Wat Saket [Golden Mountain], Siriraj Hospital [near new Thonburi station], Issaraphab Road, Hua Chiaw Hospital, Lan Luang Road, and Fai Chai Intersection. Thus they are asking for the exact locations of stations. The consultants said they will do their best to ensure the minimized land expropriation with an optimal route.
The detailed studies on Skytrain extensions will be done by the end of August 2005 and they will deliver the result to Mahadthai [Ministry of Interior] in September 2005 to ask for 50% support from the Central government so as to start the project (Phaholyothin extension and Phetkasem extension) by the end of 2006 and finish the project by the end of 2011.
The total budget for 4 extensions [Mochit - Saphan Mai [11.9 km], Taksin Intersection - Phetkasem [4.5 km], Samrong - Samut Prakarn [10 km], and National Stadium - Phran Nok [7.7km]] would be 84.255 billion baht.

2006 BMA budget: Money for Skytrain extensions - translated and summarized by Thairath, June 29, 2005 and Manager Daily, June 28, 2005
The 2006 budget for BMA is now 39 billion baht, compared with 31 billion baht for 2005. The following allocations for the 2006 budget:
1. Continuing projects - 26% [e.g. Saensaeb - Sukhumvit 71 - PhraKhanong flood control tunnel]
2. New projects - 21% [e.g. the dam along Chao Phraya in Rama 3 area, new parks for better quality of life.]
3. Regular expenditures - 45% [salary, overtime payment]
4. Central budget - 8%.
The central government has sent another 14.195 billion baht to speed up the construction of roads and bridges and other transportation matters. BMA is going to spend this budget for the Taksin extension along with the studies on Mochit-Lum Lookka line of 0.715 billion baht and Lumsalee-Klong Ban Mah of 200 million baht.
Even though it is necessary to wait for cabinet approval for the BMA scheme, BMA is going to work anyway and BMA would be able to find contractors to deal with the Taksin-Phetekasem extension in April-May 2006.

Mochit-Saphan Mai-Lum Loooka Skytrain line route - translated and summarized from Thairath, July 1,2005
During the seminar on Mochit-Saphan Mai-Lum Loooka on June 30 at Sri Pathum University with 200 attendants, Deputy Governor Samart told the attendees that the central government has approved the initial 563 million baht for this line. However this budget is subject to cabinet approval of the project before starting. If approved, BMA would start this Phaholyothin project immediately to fulfill the public demand to be done in three years for the first section.
The first section has 11 stations on an 11.9 km route
0) Mochit - the starting point
1) Lad Phrao - between Central Lad Phrao - Tesco Lad Phrao in front of Hor Wang High School
2) Ratchayothin - in front of Major Ratchayothin - Phaholyothin 30
3) Senanikhom - in front of Mayo Hospital
4) Kaset - in front of Kasetsart University
5) Sri Pathum - between Sara Witthaya High School and Sri Pathum University
6) Bang Bua - between Wat Bang Bau and Sri Pathum University
7) Infantry 11 - in front of the 11th infantry Regiment
8) Ram Indra - near Bangkhen District and Wat Phrasri Mahathat
9) Phaholyothin 48 - near Tescho Lotus Bangkhen
10) Saphan mai - Big C Saphan Mai and Central General Hospital
11) Sai Mai - Yingcharone Market
This section needs some land expropriation at Bangkhen District office and Taiu Niyom Songkrau Primary School to avoid the temple area which traditionally requires a handsome amount of compensation to the temple trustee/abbot.
The second section has six stations on 12.2 km route could be delayed due to the green belt even though many suburban people got angry that the Skytrain has not reached their home yet [very opposite of American suburbanites who fear the reach of the Subway which bring crime].
The list of six stations are:
1) Donmueang - Bhumibol Adulyadej Air Force Hospital near Jantharubeksa Golf Course [a golf field between the runways of Donmuang Airport]
2) Air Force Academy - in front of the Air Force Museum
3) Khoo Khot - near Khoo Khot Police Station
4) Klong 3 - near Wat Sai Mai
5) Klong 4 - Near Wat Klong Chan
6) Kanchanaphisek - near Lum Lookka
Mr. Parinya Thammawatthana (the owner of Yingcharoen market) said that even though this project has a very good benefit for those who live in the Saphan Mai area, but he feels afraid of pollution due to elevated tracks as those who live in Saphan Kwai, Silom and Sukhumvit have experienced. He still thought that the extra cost for a subway is just 1.5 billion baht/km despite the fact that Bangkokians have to pay an extra 4 billion baht/km from the current 2 billion baht/km if they want underground tracks.
Nevertheless, Mr. Parinya told Deputy Governor Samart that he is going to develop a new Park and Ride to hold 2000 cars for BTS passengers and Yingcharoen Market customers in front of the market as a joint venture with BMA.
MRTA Governor and farang engineers/consultants are surveying the area around Taopoon-Bang Son-Wongsawang area to check changes after the initial plan in 1995 which asked for elevated tracks to see if MRTA has to change the design into a 4 km underground track.

BMA setting up public hearing for the Phaholyothin extension - translated and summarized from Thairath, June 28, 2005
BMA is going to set up a seminar on Phaholyothin Extension [Mochit-Saphanmai-Lum Lookka] on June 30 from 8am to 1pm at Sri Pathum University.
Previously, there were 500 people attending the seminar on Taksin-Phetkasem line while there are 300 people attending the seminar on the Samrong-Samutprakarn line.


List of stations for BTS Skytrain extensions proposed by BMA
- translated and summarized from Building and Land Today, June 26, 2005-July 3, 2005
BMA is going to submit the plan to Mahatthai (Ministry of Interior) for BTS extensions as follows:
1) Changing the condition to allow BMA contribution to BTS Skytrain extensions
2) Budget from the central government to finish the Taksin and Samrong extensions
3) Scrapping Rama 3 extension after BRT has become a substitute
4) The bidding results for the Contractors

The list of stations
Samrong extension

E10 Bangchak (near Sukhumvit 62)
E11 Sukhumvit 101 [AKA Punnawithee]
E12 Udomsuk
E13 Bang NA [100 meter north from the previous position near Metro Dept]
E14 Bearing - Boundary pole
E15 Samrong - the the tail end at Sukhumvit 119 near Erawan Shrine
Paknam Extension
E16 Chang Sam Sian [Charakhe Curve - for Samrong Tai - Erawan Shrine]
E17 Naval Academy
E18 Provincial Hall
E19 Sri Nakarin
E20 Praek Sa
E21 Sai Luad
E22 Samut Prakarn Housing [near Thetsaban Bang Poo Soi 55 - terminal station]
Paholyothin Extension
N9 Lad Phrao [or Suan Somdej Yah 84]
N10 Ratchayothin
N11 Sena Nikhom
N12 Kasetsart University
N13 Sri Pathum [between Chatuchak Post Office and Sri Pathum U]
N14 Bang Bua
N15 Infantry Regiment [AKA Bang Khen or Wat Phra Sri Mahathat]
N16 Ram Indra [Tesco Bang Khen]
N17 Paholyothin 48 [AKA Saiyut Uthit]
N18 Saphan Mai [near Big C Saphan Mai]
N19 Sai Mai [the road to Sai Mai district]
Lum Lookka Extension
N20 Donmuang [Bhumibol Adulyadej Hospital]
N21 Air Forces Academy
N22 Khoo Khot
N23 Klong 3
N24 Klong 4
N25 Kanchanaphisek Lum [or Lum Lookka District Office - 4 km further from Kanchanaphisek]
Pinklao Extension [all Underground stations]
W2 Mahanak [Near Yotsa Intersection]
W3 Phan Fah Bridge [near Thewet Insurance]
W4 Sanam Luang [near Royal Hotel - AKA Rattanakosin Hotel]
W5 Siriraj [between Thonburi station and Wat Amarin, under the foot of Arun Amarin Bridge]
W6 Phran Nok [the intersection with Ratchadaphisek]
No further western extension until the road from Phrannok to Phutthamonthon Sai 4 is done which allows a BTS extension to Salaya.

Note: This underground Pinklao extensions goes along Rama 1 Road until it reaches Yotseh Station, and then the line turn right at Mae Sri Intersection (AKA Saphan Dam - there should be an intermediate station there). After that, the line goes along Chakkraphatdiphongse Road to Mahanak Intersection (another choice for intermediate station) and then turn left to Lan Luang Road before heading into Phan Fah Bridge. After that, the line goes along Ratchadamnoen Avenue to the foot of Pinklao Bridge and then goes under the Chao Phraya to a new Thonburi railway station (which is good for those who want to go to Kanchanaburi) before ending up at Phran Nok intersection
I am afraid that OTP and MOTC will ask Premier Thaksin not to grant a single satang for Skytrain extensions until they have finished their Red Line commuter networks and Subway networks as well as the feeder commuter lines--unless BTSC and BMTA are willing to sell the Skytrain at very cheap prices to their cronies.
BMA should invite Samut Prakarn and Pathum Thani Provincial governments to join with them so as to avoid the backlash from the central Government who claim BTS lines must end at the BMA border poles which please the local mafia that run the minibus services which most people despise, but have to endure since they have no alternative.


Skytrain reaches the 500 millionth passenger landmark
- translated and summarized from Manager Daily, June 20, 2005
BTS passengers have reached the 500 millionth milestone at 7am on June 16, 2005. Current daily passengers are now at 390,000 persons/day, a 136% increase from 250,000 passengers a day in 1999.
In 1,698 passenger trips, a delay over 5 minutes occurred only one time. Satisfaction: 4.3 out of 5 in every field--riding quality, safety, reliability, punctuality, and service quality.


Skytrain Extension Plan - translated and summarized from Thairath, June 17, 2005
After the hearing about the Skytrain extension plan at Siam University on June 15, 2005, BMA told 300 seminar attendees the following:
Scrapped Lines that are not financially feasible:
1) Taksin Center - Mahachai -> Converted to BRT along Kalapraphruek Road until
2) Onnut - Suvannabhum -> Converted to BRT
3) Bang Na - Wat Sri Lam -> Converted to BRT
The projects to push forward:
1) Phaholyothin Line [Mochit - Saphan Mai]
2) Silom Line [Saphan Taksin - Taksin Intersection, Taksin Intersection - Phetkasem]
3) Sukhumvit Line [Onnut - Samrong, Samrong - Samut Prakarn]
4) Pinklao Line [National Stadium - Sanam Luang - Phran Nok]
List of stations for the extensions of Silom Line
First Phase: 1) Krung Thonburi [at Bus No. 84 Depot]
2) Taksin Intersection [at the foot of the flyover across Taksin Road]
Second Phase: 1) Wat Phonimit [the Soi heading to Wat Phonimit]
2) Ratchada Thaphra [near Talad Ploo Station]
3) Taksin Center [about 200 meters before reaching Mahachai Railway since BTS would NOT want the station on the curve. It needs land expropriation to fix the curve track problem.]
4) Bang Wah [Phet Kasem Road]
Price tag: 85 billion baht
Ticket rate: 10 baht + (1.8 x N) N = Number of traveling KM--not the number of stations many Skytrain passengers have wished.
Investment plan: 80% public investment on the structure- 20% private section on system and rolling stock.
A further seminar on Sukhumvit extension to Paknam will be held at Samut Prakarn Civic Center on June 16 while the seminar on Phaholyothin Line will be held at Sri Pathum University on June 23 and the seminar on Pinklao extension will be held at BMA City Hall on June 30.
The poll on mass transit systems show that the Skytrain is still the most popular choice:
1) BTSC Skytrain: 8.11 from 10
2) MRTA Subway: 7.10 from 10
3) BMTA Aircon Buses: 6.20 from 10
Most people want Skytrain expansion and they are ready to endure traffic jam during the construction while some are unwilling to sacrifice their land for the convenient connections for the routes.

Skytrain ticket price hike - translated and summarized from Prachachat Thurakij, June 16-19, 2005
BTS is going to raise the ticket price to 45 baht max according to the contract with BMA. However, this ticket hike would not be started until September 2006--the day BTS introduces the smart card system.


Skytrain debt restructure - translated and summarized from Prachachat Thurakij, June 16-19, 2005 and Bangkok Biznews, June 16, 2005
BTS's 38-billion baht debt restructure plan is now under assessment by the creditors. The 38 billion baht debt restructure will be as follows:
1) Transforming 4.31 billion baht debts into assets
2) Cutting principle debts by 2.2 billion baht
3) Cutting outstanding interest by 5.76 billion baht
4) Transforming 10.8 billion baht into bonds
5) Transforming 1.1 billion baht stock into preferred stock
6) Paying back 14 billion baht debt in 18 years
7) Cutting registered capital from 14.933 billion baht to 6.08 billion baht
If the plan goes well, BTS could ask STECON to start the construction of the 2.2-km Taksin Extension without the help from BMA and offer an IPO in early 2006 to finance both the Taksin and Samrong Extensions. The delay is due to the creditor's demands for more debt conversion into stocks for creditors.

Skytrain to have smart card system to link with the subway - translated and summarized from Bangkok Biznews, June 7, 2005
BTS is going to bid for the new smart card system to enable BTS to have a joint ticket with BMCL subway. There are three companies competing for the smart card system installation:
1. NSI (Singapore), 2. CUBIC (USA), 3. SINGAPORE TECH (Singapore)
BTS would be able to pick the bid winner by the end of June 2005. The investment on a smart card system would be 150-200 million baht.
BTSC and BMCL have cooperated with each other so as to train BTS officers to handle smart card systems. The BTSC and winner of the bidding will install the system and train BTS officers in the first two stations [Mochit - Asoke] while the rest will be done by the winning company alone. The new system will be ready for full service by the end of 2006.
BTS will not buy any additional rolling stock for the time being. The current number of passengers are:
1) Weekdays: 380,000 passengers a day, 2) Weekends: 230,000-240,000 passengers a day
There are 31 serviceable Skytrain sets from the available 35 sets. 2 of 4 standby sets will be used for another 2 years beginning at the end of 2005. After 2007, BTS will consider purchasing new sets.

Number of Skytrain passengers shot up 12% - translated and summarized from Thairath, May 24, 2005
Even though the fuel hike added more passengers to BTS, the statistics showed that the fuel hike had little effect on the increasing number of BTS passengers. The main contributors are the regular summer fairs at several places such as the Motor Show at BITEC, Red Cross Fair at Suan Amporn, Book Fair at QSNCC, and Asia Drive Expo at Central Plaza. People take the Skytrain to avoid traffic and the limited parking spaces.
The average number of passengers before the fuel hike (February 23-March 6, 2005)
Weekdays: 377,687 passengers a day
Saturdays: 275,746 passengers a day
Sundays: 195,287 passengers a day
Overall: 315,095 passengers a day
The average number of passengers after the fuel hike (March 23- April 3,2005)
Weekdays: 403,020 passengers a day -> 6.7% increase
Saturdays: 300,436 passengers a day -> 8.9% increase
Sundays: 218,953 passengers a day -> 12.1%increase
However, BTS will continue monitoring the number of passengers to see if fuel hikes are the main contributor to increase Skytrain passengers since the fuel hike will continue.

Skytrain stocks flow to the government/Skytrain ridership stagnant - translated and summarized from Transportation Journal, May 16-22, 2005
BTS stock held by CSFB (HK) [12.67%] went into ADRC limited [100 million stock] and ADM Maculus Funds [53.9 million baht] without the acknowledgment from BTS. This is seen as a sign of a dirty trick to funnel BTS stock to the government.

Furthermore, the number of passengers is now at 400,000 a day with the expected growth rate at 7%--down from 15% last year--a sign of saturated demand which can only be improved by the extensions.

TRANSIT SYSTEM: Keeree tightens grip on BTS - The Nation, April 27, 2005
[This is a real swipe at the government and a sign Keeree's rapprochement with Thaksin last December did not help jump-start the Skytrain extensions. It will be interesting to see if Transport Minister Suriya has any comment on this development.]
Real-estate magnate Keeree Karnjapanas is inching toward regaining control over Bangkok’s Skytrain after ally New World Group of Hong Kong bought a 12 per cent stake in Bangkok Mass Transit System Pcl (BTS) from Credit Suisse First Boston...
The creditor source said New World’s purchase of the shares had taken other creditors by surprise because earlier Transport Minister Suriya had made it clear he was trying to buy shares from both New World and Credit Suisse First Boston in an effort to integrate Bangkok’s elevated trail with the underground metro line...

A tale of three newspapers: Buying back the Skytrain - January 28, 2005
In another case of reporting 'government happy news' (or at least putting the best face on it), the Post seems eager to report that buying back the Skytrain was Suriya's plan and also how happy BTS CEO Keeree is with the government.
The Nation, on the other hand, plays up the fact that this is an abrupt and odd u-turn in government policy (mentioning critics who call it 'flip flopping'). The Nation does not carry any glowing quotes from Keeree, but instead mentions BTS's long fight to resist nationalization.
However, both newspapers are two months late in this news. It was already covered in the Thai press (and mentioned on 2Bangkok.com) back in November.

PM: Govt won't take over skytrain service - Concession will not be bought back off BTSC - Bangkok Post, January 27, 2005
...His decision could kill off a plan by Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit who has pushed for the government's takeover of the elevated train system, mainly through negotiations between the Transport Ministry and creditors of BTSC...
But the prime minister promised to approve the skytrain route extension plan once the BTSC completes its debt restructuring which would make the BTSC ready for more investment.
"The problem is that the BTSC must finish debt restructuring first. If it is ready, it can do that [extend the skytrain routes] because it is a good idea,'' he said...The prime minister's decision yesterday was welcomed by Keeree Kanchanapas, the BTSC chief executive officer. He said Mr Thaksin's decision made him happy and comfortable as an investor and he now had a better understanding of government policy...

No takeover of the Skytrain: Thaksin - The Nation, January 27, 2005
...“It never entered my mind to buy out the private-sector operation,” he said... Thaksin’s comment amounted to a turn-about of his government’s policy. Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit has been behind a campaign for the government to buy out both the Skytrain and the underground metro line in order to integrate Bangkok’s mass transit systems...

Premier Thaksin stuns Suriya by revoking the plan for Skytrain-Subway nationalization - Than Setthakij, November 4-6, 2004

Nationalization plans: government backs down - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, January 27, 2005
Premier Thaksin said the Government will not use an iron fist to choke BTSC to sell their stock to the government since the company is ready to deal with the first two delayed extensions. This stance is due to the subway accident which forces them to rethink the strategy to nationalize BTS. BTS has an excellent safety record and becomes a good model MRTA and BMCL in having to correct the faulty sections at Huay Kwang Depot. Furthermore, public anger toward TRT delaying the Taksin extension also forces PM Thaksin to come up with the newer and more subtle plan.
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