Skytrain News 2001

Green light for subway extension
Excerpted from The Nation, April 3, 2001

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is to guarantee a loan worth US$175 million (Bt7.86 billion) to the Bangkok Transit System Company (BTSC) so that it can begin construction of extensions to its skytrain routes, BMA Governor Samak Sundaravej said yesterday.
....
He said the loan would be used to finance part of the construction of the nine-kilometre extension from On Nut to Samrong and the two kilometre route from Sathon Road to Taksin Road.
The governor said that the BMA would shoulder the cost of constructing the pylons for the extended skytrain routes while BTSC would build the tracks, set up the electric system and provide trains.
Samak said he would consult Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra about BMA's plan to issue bonds to raise funds for construction of the pylons. The governor said the city administration would go ahead with the plan to build an 80-kilometre railway around outer Bangkok as an alternative transport option for commuters.
....
Samak said the route would start from Bang Plee and go via Lam Lukka, Rangsit, Bang Bua Thong, Bang Bon, Rama 2, Bukkalo Intersection, Bang Pakok, Rama 3, Chong Nonsi and Wat Saphan to Bang Na. He said the route would have two tracks and would be mostly built at ground level, except at Chong Nonsi where it would be elevated. He said part of the route could be connected to the BTSC-skytrain system. The governor said he expected some one million commuters to use the new line each day.

How the Skytrains were Imported
April 2, 2001
The Freight Company, Ltd. recently contacted 2bangkok.com: "Our company was appointed by Siemens AG of Germany as the exclusive transport and logistics company (freight forwarder) for the Bangkok Skytrain Project. Our company was responsible for the transport of all the equipment for the Bangkok Skytrain from all over the world to Thailand. Moreover, our company was dealing exclusively with Thai Customs for the Import of all the equipment. Our Group also provided the warehouse facilities to store these goods prior to delivery to the project site." We hope to have a more in-depth account of the import and more photos soon.

The Freight Company, Ltd. main page
Photo galleries of the various gigantic items they have imported (including the skytrain)
Info on their projects

BTSC Directors Rushing to BMA City Hall to Confirm that they are Ready for Extension Constructions
Dailynews, March 29, 2001

BTSC Director went to the City Hall and met with Deputy Governor to confirm that they are ready to construct the extensions, and they will make a press conference about the extension plan very soon.

Mr. Sahat Bunditkul (Deputy Governor) after BTSC felt very hearing the rumor that the company was not ready for the extension construction. Therefore, the company sent Mr. Anat Abhabhirom (a consultant of the BTSC Board) to see him. Mr. Anat told Mr. Sahat that he had no idea who spread such a bad rumor to the press since it never came up at the BTSC at all. Furthermore, he also said that the company would be ready to construct since the company had rolling stock, a depot, and a maintenance center in their hands so their would be no need of a new set of rolling stocks, a depot and a maintenance center.

Mr. Sahat also told the press that Mr. Anat hadn't told him about the financial resources for the extensions and the country who would finance the projects as well as other related details. Nevertheless, the company would hold a press conference with the mass media very soon to correct the news. BTSC also planed to construct Park and Ride Buildings using elevators to move the cars up and down for safety and convenience so as to increase the passenger numbers.

Before the rumor spread out, the committee was drafting the TOR for bid calling open only to 11 companies which initially sent proposals for the first phase. After that, BTSC would take a look at the company's plan. If the plan satisfied BTSC, BTSC would use the plan to construct according to the cabinet resolution and its status as the pioneer for the mass transit system. However, the daily loss of 8-9 million baht as well as the inability of the company to find financial resources to fund the projects dimmed BTSC's prospects to deal with the winner, causing the rumor that they would not be involved in the extensions to spread like wild fire. Eventually, the company had to go to City Hall to confirm that the company would be ready for the construction.

Notes: We can guess that Chinese Government and Shanghai Metro Co.Ltd will definitely be on the list of financial resources for the Skytrain extensions due to the CEO's Chinese connections. It would be much better if the company could persuade Premier Thaksin to come up with G to G (Government to Government) loan to finance the mass transit projects since it is much cheaper for the government to borrow from other governments. Otherwise, the government will have to come up with the massive bonds (in baht, US$, Euro, Yen denominations) to finance the projects.

Inviting 11 groups to deal with Skytrain extensions
Dailynews, March 27, 2001

Pol. 2nd Lt. Kriangsak Lohachara (City Clerk) said BMA is drafting the bidding plan for the Skytrain extension projects to deliver to the BMA Governor. The bid plan will be done in the next 2 weeks. After BMA Governor approves the plan, BMA will invite 11 groups to compete for the extension projects. The names for the groups are as follows:

1) AEROMOVEL Consortium
2) Thanayong Consortium (BTSC's subsidiary)
3) Thai-German Bangkok Metro Consortium
4) Bangkok Metro Co. Ltd. (BMCL - the concession holder of Subway - Ch. Karnchang PCL.'s subsidiary)
5) IIMRT Group
6) GEC Alstom Co.Ltd.
7) Siemens Co.Ltd.
8) Ch. Karnchang PCL.
9) MARUBENI Co.Ltd. (Japanese Firm)
10) Italian-Thai PCL. (one of BTSC's Shareholders)
11) ADTRANZ Group

City Clerk said the TORs for extension projects are that the private company have to make 100% investment for the construction of three lines with the same specifications for rolling stocks, standard 1.435-meter gauges, and the same control systems as Thanayong. If the bidding companies offer the better deal, the contract reserves the right for Thanayong to decide whether the company could comply with the winner's conditions. If Thanayong agrees with the winner's term, it will be okay; otherwise the winner will be the one who will undertake these projects.

So far, no companies have offered a better deal than Thanayong since the owner (Tanayong - AKA BTSC) won't have to deal with the depot and parking construction. If someone offers a better deal than Thanayong, Thanayong won't accept the company's imposing conditions (since it definitely requires the hostile takeover of BTSC or other stringent financial and shareholding terms). Therefore, BMA will ask the cabinet to approve the new bidding plan which requires government assistance to realize the project.

BTSC Running out of cash for extension projects--Even the Taksin extension won't help very much
[Note: BTSC now completely denies the assertions made in the following article. See above.]
Dailynews, March 27, 2001

BTSC declines to deal with the extension projects since the company ran out of cash since the number of passengers is much less than the company expected causing creditors to refuse to lend the money for them. BTSC also said Taksin Extension won't help either since it doesn't go to a business area. The company has made a debt restructure plan to cope with creditors.

BTSC said the company will deliver the debt restructure plan to the creditors for the delay of debt payment since the revenue from the passengers cannot cover the expenses. Initially, the company thought that they could get 400,000 passengers a day or more to pay off the debts. However, the number of passenger is, at most, 200,000 passengers a day during the weekday and less during the weekend. The economic downturn also kicks the cost up from 35 billion baht to 52.634 billion baht. With the small number of passengers and the loan payment, the company won't be in the position to deal with the extensions. Even though the government offers to deal 80% of the extension cost through the construction and civil works and allows the company to deal with the services, systems, and rolling stocks, it won't help either since the creditors will decline to lend the company more money.

The Taksin extension won't help either since the area along the Taksin extension won't be a business area such as Silom and Sukhumvit, but those rural people who work in the factories on the Thoburi side of Bangkok. The bus route readjustment will help a little bit but not much since the routes which have already been adjusted are the routes that BMTA had allowed the private concession. The Hopewell project which are supposed to be the main feeder line is not finished yet (and might never be). Other companies which BMA invites to deal with the extension said they cannot deal either since it is very hard to find the investment loan. Even though the government have made 80% investment on civil work on the subway, BMCL Co. Ltd. hasn't received any loan yet since the creditors feel afraid that they will face passenger problems as BTSC.

Notes: With this kind of problem, I think Thaksin, BJ, and Ajarn Wannor will have lots of headaches to deal with. For the case of Hopewell, it will be much better to make separated section - Eastern Section and Northern Section. Northern section will run from Rangsit to Samsen to feed the subway and the Eastern section will run from Suvannabhum Airport to Hua Lamphong to feed the Skytrain and subway. After that, they will have to decide which section will have to be done first--Northern or Eastern section. If Suvannabhum Airport is done according to plan (or delayed for a few years), the Eastern Section will have to be done first since SRT is going to build a railway track to the Airport and this route will have more connection than the Northern section. If the airport won't be done very soon, the Northern section will be the best answer. For the tracks from Samsen to Hua Lamphong, the subway will function as a feeder for them until the economic is fully recovered.

If the economic is at full recovery, they will have to dig tunnels along Yothee Intersection and Saowanee Intersection to make traffic along Sri Ayuthaya Road and Ratchawithee Road flow without interruption, and force the cars in those roads to turn left along the Local Road or from Local Road to Sri Ayudhaya and Ratchawithee Road to ensure smooth traffic flows without going across the railway tracks.

The reason for the tunnels at Yothee and Saowanee Intersection is that the project holder will have to put the railways (and skytrain) on the ground level since it would be very prohibitive and disrespectful to construct the tracks above Chitladda Palace! Therefore it will be necessary to construct slopes to enable to elevated tracks to go down to earth and enable to ground tracks to go up from the earth to the elevated track. If it is necessary to put the track from Hua Lamphong to Phyathai at the ground level, the complicated flyover at Yommarat Intersection to keep smooth traffic flows is a must.

Firm lacks funds to extend service - Creditors knocking, too few passengers
[Note: BTSC now completely denies the assertions made in the following article. See above.]
Supoj Wancharoen, Bangkok Post, March 26, 2001

Bangkok Mass Transit System Corp will back out of the skytrain extension because of lack of funds and let other firms bid for the work. The skytrain operator is tied up in debt relief talks with its creditors, an executive source said. A debt restructuring plan must be submitted to all creditors within the month, after which the company would seek a delay in debt repayment.

He said the number of passengers was disappointing, much lower than originally expected. "We need at least 400,000 passengers a day to generate enough income to repay our debts. We serve only about 200,000 people on weekdays. This drops to 190,000 on Saturdays and only 120,000 on Sundays," he said. The firm, which has a 30-year concession to operate skytrain from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, began the service in December 1999 with fares ranging from 10 to 40 baht. The company originally planned to invest 35 billion baht and hoped to attract 430,000 passengers daily. The economic crisis spelled disaster for the firm when the government floated the baht, which suddenly depreciated and compounded the company's debts. As a result, project investment soared to 52.6 billion baht, of which 39% came from German bank KfW, 20% from Siam Commercial Bank and 7% from International Finance Corp.

The executive source said the baht depreciation and the disappointing number of passengers made it impossible for the company to acquire fresh loans for additional investment. The creditors would not lend any more money, but were well aware of the current financial situation and would have to come to an agreement. The company simply could not extend the train system, he said, even though the state offered to invest in the civil work. "We don't even have money to lay more tracks on state-funded structures. "The proposed extension of the track to Thon Buri will not give us as many additional passengers as reported," the source said. Residents of Thon Buri were unlikely to use the skytrain because most of them worked in factories, not in the business districts of Silom and Sukhumvit. "Most of the people there come from other provinces and work for factories or other local companies. "They already have enough department stores in Thon Buri and have no need for the department stores on the skytrain route," he said.

The firm had little hope of increasing passenger numbers over the next three years because many of the bus routes the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority could have re-routed to feed the skytrain were now run by private operators. The failed Hopewell mass transit project could have fed passengers to the skytrain but there was little chance of it being revived in the next five years.

Cabinet has endorsed the 8.9km Onnuj-Samrong route, the 8.5 km Chong Nonsi-Sathupradit route and the 2.2km Sathon-Taksin route as extensions. Under its concession, the firm had the right to propose its extension plan first. It was unable to do so and the city has invited other companies to tender. They include Ch Karnchang Plc, Adtranz Group, Italian-Thai Development Plc, Siemens and Alsthom Group. City Governor Samak Sundaravej recommended the state invest in the civil work for the extended routes, with private participation in laying tracks, running trains and expanding the operating system. The state assistance will be similar to that given for the city subway, but the skytrain expansion is not expected to proceed without a hitch. "The other mass transit bidders should think hard before responding to the invitation because it is difficult to get a loan for such a project now," the BTSC source said.

"Despite not having to invest in the civil work, the Bangkok Metro Co Ltd is still unable to seal a loan contract with its banks because creditors fear the subway will not have enough passengers."

Groovy Skytrain Map
The Groovy Map people have a nice Expressway/Skytrain Map. If you don't know this company, they make extremely practical and up-to-date maps with an emphasis on easy to understand public transport info. Their Bangkok by Day and Bangkok by Night maps are must-haves...

OCMLT Revising the Rama III Extension - from BTSC to MRTA
Thairath Daily, February 14, 2001 and Dailynews, February 14, 2001

Pol. Maj. Yongyut Sarasombut (OCMLT's Secretariat) said that OCMLT would like to revise the feasibility of Rama III Extension after the cabinet have approved the plan for BTSC to construct the Taksin, Samrong and Rama III extension of the Skytrain. OCMLT would like to ask MRTA to handle to Rama III extension instead of BTSC by connecting the first section of the MRTA Blue line at Queen Sirikit Station to go along Rama III Ring Road to Mahai Sawan Intersection (or Thanon Tok Intersection) as a subway even though it is initially ends at Sadhupradit Intersection near Sadhupradit Pier.

On the Northern extension of the Blue line from Bangsue to Phra Nangklao Bridge, the extension should be readjusted at Wongsawang Intersection to go across Chaophraya River via Rama VII Bridge and then turn left to go along Charansanitwongse Inner Ring Road and connect with the Blue Line at Ratchadaphisek Inner Ring Road (Tha Phra) and then connect with Rama III extension at Mahaisawan Intersection (or Thanon Tok Intersection later on). Such a ring loop will boost the passenger up from the target 400,000 passengers a day to 600,000 passenger a day.

However, the MRTA bridges to go across Chao Phraya River are necessary even though the bridge that goes parallel to Krungthep Bridge must be high enough to accommodate the cargo ships from Klong Toei Port (looking at Rama III Bridge as a good example!). Even better, the Stations near the river should be close to the piers (Saphan Krung Thep and Rama VII Pier) to transport the passengers from Phra Pradaeng and Rat Boorana in very easy way as those who go through Saphan Taksin Station.

For the Northern extension of Skytrain, OCMLT would like to use the abandoned pillars of Hopewell project while BMA wants to go along Phaholyothin Road instead. Therefore, it is necessary to call another discussion between OCMLT and BMA about this matter in March 2001. After that, OCMLT and BMA will submit the plan to revise the Rama III extension and Northern extension of Skytrain to the cabinet later.

So far, Bangkokians travel 14.4 million trips a day by cars and buses - 53% for cars and 47% by buses. If cabinet decide to follow the plans for both Skytrain and Subway, both mass transit systems will cut down the buses and car transportation by 1.5 million trips a day.

Setting Up a Flea Market in Skytrain Station as "Soi Lalaisub 2 Project" - Mochit Station is the First branch
Thairath Daily, February 13, 2001

Ms. Rosarin Suchart, the Marketing and Sales Manager of VGI Global Media Co. Ltd. (BTSC's subsidiary) said the company will set up "Soi Lalaisub 2 Project" on Mochit Station from February 14, 2001 (Valentine's Day). This project will allow the private entrepreneurs to rent 15 booths in a 5.1-square-meter space in the northern section of Mochit station to sell cosmetics, clothes, gifts, Tape-CDs, bakery products, drinks, ornaments and spectacles from 6am to midnight in a similar way as those who live in Soi Lalaisub at Silom do. This "Soi Lalaisub 2 Project" will increase revenue for the company and maximize the utility of empty space in the station. The company will make an open ceremony in the morning of Valentine's Day and assess customers' satisfaction and total sales. If the project works well, the company will open more branches at Chit Lom and Phrompong Station. There would be no problem about moving the passengers during the emergency, since the booth area is at the edge of the stations which is not in the pathways of the stations. VGI Co.Ltd. Received the 15-year concession from BTSC to utilize the station areas of Skytrain but the company have to pay BTSC 200 million baht a year. So far, VGI Co. Ltd. gets revenue from ads on the rolling stock, inside the trains, and around platforms.

BMA Defense BTSC's Action to Open "Soi Lalaisub 2 Project"
Thairath Daily, February 15, 2000

After BTSC granted a 15-year concession to VGI Global Media Co.Ltd to open "Soi Lalaisub 2 Project", some passengers agreed with the project while the others didn't like it. Mr. Winai Lekwongsederm (39 years old, private business) said he dislikes such a project since the stations have the main duty to move the passengers so there should not be many shops inside the stations which will cause more congestion inside which will obstruct passenger pathways. On the other hand, Miss Ornchat Amatayakul (24 years old, office lady) said she likes this project since the company choose the right space which won't obstruct the pathways so there would be no problems during the evacuation.

Mr. Karun Jantharangsu (BTSC Administration Director) said the company had studied before coming up with such a project. Furthermore, the Article 3 of the contract with BMA said the company can earn income from activities relating to the transportation systems which include advertisement, the rent and the ticket fees. Therefore, it is legal to rent a space to sell the products inside the stations so long that the booths won't block the pathways. Mr. Mana Nopphan (Deputy City Clerk) said the company can rent a space to sell the products since BMA allows 100% private investment. Therefore, the company can open up the space fore rent without asking BMA, so long that the booths won't block the pathways.

Dept. of Civil Construction Giving the Area under Sathon Bridge to Construct Park & Ride for Skytrain
Thairath Daily, February 9, 2001

Mr. Karun Jantharangsu (BTSC Administration Director) said after the meeting with the Ad Hoc committee for solving BTSC problems headed by Pol. Maj. Yongyut Sarasombut (OCMLT's Secretariat) that BTSC proposed a plan to construct a connection point between the Skytrain and other land transportation modes under Saphan Taksin Station. The Dept. of Cilvil Works will allow BTSC to use an area of about 1 rai (about 17,222 square-feet) as a transportation connecting point to park taxi cabs, buses and cars. The connecting point will have a roof and it will take about 6 months to finish after the committee approves the plan. Furthermore, there will be a discussion about the connecting points Mochit and Onnut Station.
Mr. Karun said the BMA plans to readjust the 2nd section of the Phaseecharoen Elevated way project (Taksin to Wat Ang kaeo - 6.1 km) into the extension of the Skytrain. BMA will deal with civil engineer matters while BTSC deals with rail and rolling stock which will require 5-6 billion baht (around US$ 125-150 million). The creditors will definitely grant a loan to support this project since this project will enable the company to increase daily passengers since the Thonburi side has high traffic density and OCMLT said this western extension will boost the number of daily passengers 70,000 persons or more.


(Note from Ron: Here's the same story from two different newspapers. On the left is the English-language Bangkok Post version and on the right, the Thai-Language Dailynews version. The Bangkok Post version makes it seam like everything is simple and settled. The Dailynews version gives much more detail on the remaining conflicts.)

City suggests longer route
Elevated road can be transformed
by Supoj Wancharoen, excerpted from the Bangkok Post, Wednesday, February 7, 2001

The city administration has agreed to transform an elevated road project into a skytrain extension route to serve Thon Buri. Targeted for the change is the two-lane Klong Phasi Charoen elevated road designed during the term of former Bangkok governor Bhichit Rattakul to serve high-occupancy vehicles such as passenger buses and cars with at least three people. The road project was designed to run along Klong Phasi Charoen for 12km from Kanchanapisek road to the Phetkasem area.
....
Under the change, the skytrain system will run along half of the route, for 6km from Phetkasem road via Klong Bang Khun Thien, Therd Thai road, Wong Wian Yai-Mahachai railway track, Ratchadapisek road, Taksin road and Krung Thon Buri road to Sathorn bridge.
....
(Bangkok deputy governor Sahas Bunditku) said it would be easy for Bangkok Mass Transit System Corp to find a source of funding for the laying of tracks and building of stations because the city would pay for the civil engineering work. In the meantime, the city would terminate the other half of the Klong Phasi Charoen road project as its design failed an environmental impact assessment, Mr Sahas said.

Kumropluk Suraswadi, deputy director of the Megaprojects Office, said the change would also bring a new rail terminus in Thon Buri as the extended skytrain route would meet the new Mae Klong railway track. The new terminus would facilitate transport to China, Burma and Malaysia in addition to the only terminus at Hua Lampong, he said. Also, the skytrain system would benefit from the change because of commuters on the Thon Buri side. The current demand for the skytrain system in Thon Buri was about 70,000 people daily, he said.
....

Readjusting the Elevated Way to become a skytrain route
Track laying and Rolling Stock for BTSC
Dailynews, February 7, 2001

BMA agrees to readjust the Phaseecharoen Elevated Way from Taksin to Wat Ang Kaeo (Phatthanakarn Road) to become an extension of the skytrain and allow BTSC to lay track and run the service.

On February 6, Mr. Sahas Bunditku (BMA Deputy Governor), Mr. Kumrop-luk Suraswadi (Deputy Secretariat of OCMLT) and officers from KWF (BTSC Creditor) went to inspect the Phaseecharoen Elevated Way Project from Sathorn Road to Phetkasem Road (National Highway No.4) to plan for the readjustment from elevated way to skytrain extension.

Mr. Sahas said the cabinet had already approved BMA to construct Taksin Extension from Saphan Taksin Station to Taksin Intersection (2.1-2.2 km) while BMA was constructing the 2nd section of Phaseecharone Elevated Way from Phatthanakarn Road to Taksin Bridge (AKA Saphan Taksin) -6.1 km long - with a budget of 742 million baht. However, the 2nd section of Phaseecharoen Elevated Way is 10.35% done - 45.79% delayed from original plans. Even worse, there are conflicts about the transfer of land ownership between BMA and the Dept. of Civil Construction. Therefore, OCMLT and BMA decided to readjust the section from Sathorn to Taksin (2.1 km) as the extension of the skytrain.

BMA is going to make a consideration on the section from Taksin Intersection to Mae Klong Railway (2km) and the section from Mae Klong Railway to Wat Ang Kaeo between Phatthanakarn Road and Phetkasem Road - 2 km) since BMA thought that the route should turn left to go along Mae Klong Railway near Wutthakart Road (AKA Thoed Thai Road) while OCMLT said the route to go all the way to Phetkasem Road. Therefore, BMA and OCMLT need to discuss to get the final OCMLT resolution about these 2 sections (Taksin - Wutthakart Road and Wutthakart to Phetkasem). After that BMA will deliver the resolution to Sino-Thai Construction PCL (a contractor of Phaseecharoen Elevated Way) to readjust the project.

Mr. Sahas said if final resolution is to readjust the whole project to Skytrain extension (6.1 km), BMA will invest in the main structure from the budget which BMA has enough and then BMA will ask BTSC to invest on the rail tracking, rolling stock and services. Mr. Kamrobelux said OCMLT has planned for the Skytrain route from Sathorn Bridge to Phetkasem Road and the Mae Klong line is considered to belong to SRT. On the other hand, BMA wants the route to turn left to go along Mae Klong Railway since SRT said they want BMA to deal with Mae Klong Route. Mr. Kumrop-luk also said that if the route goes from Sathorn to Phetkasem, BTSC will receive 70,000 more passengers a day.

Notes: It would be very nice they can come up with compromises that all relating parties can agree with. For example, there should be an interchange station between Wutthakart and Mae Klong Railway so that one can go to either Mahachai or Phetkasem. However, such an interchange will increase the budget which will definitely become unacceptable during the current economic situation. Even worse, it will be very hard if not impossible for BMA and OCMLT to come up with a compromise. The conflicts about the northern extension of the skytrain is a good example since both sides reject the compromise choice while they prefer their favorite route instead!

Note 2: The route of the 2nd section of Phaseecharoen Elevated Way is as follows:

1) Going from the foot of Sathorn Bridge to Taksin Intersection
2) Going from Taksin Intersection to Ratchadaphisek Inner Ring Road
3) Going from Ratchadaphisek Inner Ring Road to Wutthakart Road (part of Thoed Thai Road) which is very closed to Mae Klong Railway
4) Going from Wutthakart Road to Branch out at the place between Wat Pleng and Wat Salakruen
5) One Branch go to Phatthanakarn Road and cross Phaseecharoen Canal. This branch ending up at Phetkasem Road
6) The other branch go parallel to Phasseecharoen canal to cross Bang Khunthian Canal, and Bang Bon Road. This branch end up at Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road

There is a road from Taksin Intersection to Phetkasem. The Road is supposed to connect the projected road from Phetkasem to Rattanathibet Road. However, only the section from Taksin Intersection to Ratchadaphisek is done.

BTSC Chasing Swallows in Silom Area Away
Dr. (Vet) Alongkot Mahannop (a veterinarian from Chitladda Palace) noticed that there are fewer swallows around Silom Road in recent winters. One of the many culprits may be pollution from Skytrain after putting power lines underground or noise from the Skytrain which disturbs the internal magnetic compass that swallows use.
Dr. Alongkot believes that the swallows, which migrate from Siberia each year, will leave Silom for good to winter in less polluted and noisy areas--unfortunate thing since swallows have become a familiar for those who live around Silom area.

Mr. Harnnarong Yaowalert (the assistant secretariat of information division, Wildlife Conservation Foundation) said the whole structure of Skytrain is the reason for the decline of Silom swallows--no more hanging power lines, and scary big things like the Skytrain rolling stock.

BTSC denies that they chased the swallows away
Thairath Daily, February 1, 2001
Mr. Karun Jantharagsu (Administrative Director of BTSC) contends that the Skytrain did not cause the swallows to leave the Silom area. Putting the power lines underground leaves no place for the swallows to roost, so they flew to Lumphinee Park or Bueng Kum Park which are much greener and have more food and places to rest. He said putting the power lines underground came before the construction of the Skytrain, so the Skytrain did not chase those bird away. Environmental studies conducted by Kasetsart University before the Skytrain construction has clearly stated the construction of the Skytrain did no harm to the environment--including birds around the Silom area.
Mrs. Arunee Ratsameethat (Laksi District Director and the former Bangrak District Director from 1998-2000) said the number of birds is decreasing, but there are about 300-500 birds that still stay in the Silom area. She knows this because district cleaners have to clean the road tainted on bird dropping daily instead of only in the winter. Nevertheless, she has no idea what caused the birds to disappear from Silom area.

Skytrain blues for Silom swallows
excerpted from The Nation, January 31, 2001
.....
For decades, electricity cables slung along either side of Silom Road provided a winter home for thousands of barn swallows, who migrate to Thailand annually from northern Asia. But several years ago the bird's temporary lodgings were uprooted to make way for construction work on the skytrain project, and underground cables installed in their place. Since then, the number of birds passing the winter on Silom Road has fallen each year.
According to the Silom Road Tagging Project, there were about 130,000 migratory barn swallows living along Silom Road in 1992. The following year - which saw the first cables removed - about 71,000 birds were sighted. The number dropped to 48,000 when skytrain construction began in 1996. Last year, the project recorded only 38,000 birds in the remaining tress and on top of buildings along the road.
The project is a joint effort between Telecom Asia Cooperation Co, the Royal Forestry Department and the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand.
The group plans to tag each bird in an effort to learn more about the life cycle and biology of migratory barn swallows in Thailand. Each year, employees of the project's three founding members, along with student volunteers, use large nets to catch the birds, which are tagged with a coded band identifying where and when they were found. They are then released. This year's round of tagging is being held today.
.....
Watchara Yoosawad of the Bird Conservation Society also feared that one winter the birds would not return to Silom because the environment along the road had changed so drastically. "I don't see how this place can support the birds any longer: No more wires, no big trees, no more flying insects, the skytrain and all this noise. It all adds up to a totally unsuitable environment for the barn swallow," he said.
.....
While nobody could say for sure where the birds go once they decide not to stay in Silom Road, Watchara speculated they might be moving south to Pattana and Yala, or Malaysia.

Skytrain Extensions Can Be Finished in 3 years
Dailynews, January 30, 2001
Pol. 2nd. Lt Kriangsak Lohachara (City Clerk) said he'll call a meeting to discuss the plan to construct the extension on Jan 31 and invite BTSC to discuss with them about the details and conditions for the 3 skytrain extensions. BTSC is the first company to be called for this discussion. If BTSC declines to accept the conditions according to 1992 contract imposed by BMA, BMA will have to call other companies to handle the extensions.

Name of Extension From To Distance Construction Period
Sukhumvit (Samrong) Onnut Samrong Tai 8.9 km 36 months
Silom (Taksin) Saphan Taksin Wongwian Yai 2.2 km 30 months
Rama III Chong Nonsee Sadhupradit 8.5 km 36 months

The City Clerk said the construction will be a 100% private investment with 30 years concession. The deposit for the bid is 200 million baht (US$ 5 million). The deposit for the contract is 200 million baht (US$ 5 million), and the deposit for the construction is 50 million baht (US$ 1.25 million). There will be no land expropriation.
BMA will ask BTSC when it wants to start the construction. When BMA knows the starting date, BMA will try to do everything to finish the construction on time. For the fare rate, they will discuss whether BTSC will have to freeze the fare rate or BTSC can raise the fare rate to the ceiling. The company may freeze the fare rate if they can count on picking up more passengers.

Issuing Bonds to Finance Skytrain Extensions
Dailynews, February 1, 2001
BMA is preparing to issue a bond with a 6% annual rate this April to finance the Skytrain extensions to Bangplee, Mahachai and Lum Lookka and reduce the fare to a 20-25 baht flat rate with daily passengers of million people after Bang Plee, Mahachai, and Lum Lookka Extensions become operative. BMA will let BTSC deal with the service.
Pol. 2nd Lt. Kriangsak Lohachara (City Clerk) has called a meeting to discuss the investment plan on skytrain extensions to comply with the 16th Article in the 1992 Joint Venture Act. BMA will invite 11 groups to join in this project after the Attorney General accepts the BMA plan. BMA will ask the companies to submit the preliminary investment plans within 15 days after BMA calls a bid and the companies will have to submit the plans in detail within the next 90 days after the deadline of preliminary plan submission so that BMA will have the data to discuss with BTSC later.
Governor Samak Sunthoravet said after the meeting with the OCMLT committee that the committee decided that the best route for the Northern Extension of Skytrain is to go along Phaholyothin Road and then turn right to Km25 before going along Thanyaburi canal to Lum Lookka. The Investment Plan for the extension will be as follows:

Route Plan
1) Saphan Taksin - Taksin Intersection (Wongwian Yai)
80% BMA -20% BTSC-Shanghai Metro by readjusting the section of Phaseecharoen Elevated Way
2) Taksin Bridge - Ko Bo (Actually Wat Nang)
100% BTSC- Shanghai metro
3) Onnut - Samrong
100% BTSC- Shanghai Metro
4) Ko Bo - Mahachai
80% BMA
5) Samrong - Bangplee
80% BMA - 20% BTSC-Shanghai Metro
6) Mochit - Lum Lookka
80% BMA

Krungthep Thanakhom Co. Ltd. will issue 100 billion baht (US$ 2.5 billion) with an annual interest rate of 6% in this April to finance the construction of the Mahachai, Lum Lookka and Bang Plee extensions. BTSC will run the services. After Mahachai, Lum Lookka and Bang Plee extension are opened for service, the fair rate will be cut to 20-25 baht flat rate to boost the passenger numbers up to one million passengers a day.

Samak wants the state to fund extension
Operator agrees to flat rate of 20 baht
Bangkok Post, February 1, 2001
Supoj Wancharoen
The state should invest in the skytrain extension and allow the private sector to run trains on the new routes, the Bangkok governor said. Samak Sundaravej said the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration could raise 100 billion baht if Krungthep Thanakom issued bonds for sale to the public at 6% interest.
"The bonds could be issued soon since the Office of the Auditor-General agrees with the plan. The repayment will depend on fares collected from the extended skytrain system," he said.
The Bangkok Mass Transit System Corp would receive a loan from China to import more trains and expand the operating system, he said. The lender would expect German development bank KfW, a current creditor of BTSC, to guarantee the loan.
Mr Samak intends to submit his proposal to the government and use the successful state finance of the new subway plan as an example.
"This will allow the project to be completed quickly so the state can provide lower fares for the public."He said he has discussed the reduced skytrain fares with BTSC chairman Keeree Kanjanapas, who has agreed to implement a flat rate of 20 baht per trip after the extended routes become operational. The state and the private operator would then share the income according to the size of investment.
The governor expects the extended skytrain to serve a million passengers daily. Cabinet has endorsed three extended routes: Onnuj to Samrong (8.9km), Sathon to Taksin (2.2km) and Chong Nonsi to Nang Linchi (actually Sadhupradit Pier) (8.5km). The current skytrain covers a distance of 23km and runs through the city. Mr Samak's plan is different from another scheme planned by a panel considering the extension.
City clerk Kriangsak Lohachala, head of the committee, said the panel proposed the private operator bear the whole investment of the extension in line with a previous cabinet resolution. The panel includes representatives from the BMA, the National Economic and Social Development Board, the Transport and Communications Ministry, the Office of the Attorney-General and the Finance Ministry.

Discarding Samak's Idea to Construct the Northern Extension Along the Canals
Dailynews, January 23, 2001

Land Traffic Committee determined that Skytrain northern extension should either go along Phaholyothin Road or along SRT Railway since both choices are better and cheaper than going along the canal Governor Samak has proposed. However, the final choice will be discussed next month.
Pol. Maj. Yongyut Sarasombut (OCMLT Secretariat) said that after OCMLT called a meeting with public and private sector about the assessment on Northern Extension of Skytrain, the results were as follows:

Route
Score
Phaholyothin
76
Hopewell
75
Canals
less than 75
Phahonyothin-Hopewell
even less than Canals

The first two choices scored so closely that OCMLT has called a meeting to finalize the route in early February (or perhaps in late March). If the final choice is Hopewell, OCMLT, BMA and BTSC will have to negotiate with Hopewell since the company is in conflict with SRT. If the choice is the Phaholyothin route, the Kaset flyover must be demolished just as the Saphan Kwai flyover was.
The governor's canal route failed the test since such a route would have detrimental effects on thousands of families living along the canals. The BMA apartments may not be able to cover all of those families and BMA would have to spend billions of baht to create new jobs for them.
Notes: Even though Hopewell route is cheaper (they can use the abandoned pillars with a few modifications), the long negotiation process will definitely make many people run out of patience. Therefore, the Phaholyothin route may be the best choice we have right now.

Governor Samak Pushing for BTS Extension Using Pillars from Phaseecharoen Elevated Way
Thairath, January 9, 2001
Governor Samak Sunthoravet said that after the Cabinet approved the BMA to start construction without calling a new bid, BMA sent Pol. 2nd Lt. Kriangsak Lohachara (BMA City Clerk) to negotiate with BTSC about the construction details and the conditions before signing a contract to start the construction from Onnut to Samrong and Saphan Taksin to Taksin Intersection (AKA Ko Boh) which BMA will push to be done within 18 months.
Governor Samak said he suggested to BTSC and the City Clerk that the company should use the pillars from the suspended 2nd phase of Phaseecharoen Elevated Way. BMA will pay compensation to private contractors who worked for the terminated Phaseecharoen Elevated Way project. When the Skytrain reaches Wongwian Yai, it will be lowered down to surface level before going along Maeklong Railway.

Skytrain Stops due to Glitches
Thairath, January 13, 2001
Skytrain stopped running for about half an hour at 09:30 AM of Jan 12, 2001 when the train which started from Morchit Station nearly reached Saphan Kwai Station. The stopping also caused three more trains following to stop.
Mr. Arnat Abhaphirom (BTSC Adviser) said the glitches are due to unknown rolling stock problems while running to Saphan Kwai Station, causing other rolling stock to stop. The company will make a detailed investigation on what were the actual causes of the problems.

Readjust Phaseecharoen Elevated Way to be ready for BTS Southern Extension
Dailynews, January 18, 2001
Mr. Khamrobe-rak Suratsawadee asked OCMLT and the Traffic Committee to stop phase 2 of Phaseecharoen Elevated Way project owned by the Department of Civil Works (Ministry of Interior) and transfer the budget to BMA for the construction for BTS Western Extension since it is very easy to do so (just constructing the skytrain structure & stations).
Mr. Khamrobe-rak (deputy director of Traffic Committee) said after the discussion with Mr. Mana Nopphan (BMA Deputy City Clerk) that he agreed with BMA about the proposal to readjust the 2nd phase of the Phaseecharone Elevated Way (Taksin - Wat Angkaeo) into the Skytrain Western Extension. OCMLT will prepare the report to the Traffic Committee which will be appointed by the new Prime Minister (Taksin Shinawatra) and his cabinet.
Mr. Khamrobe-rak said that OCMLT has a new mass transit master plan for the Thonburi side of Bangkok which includes the upgrading of the Maeklong Railway Line, the construction of Taksin Extension, and the Southern Bangkok Transportation Hub.
Now, BMA has started the construction of the Taksin extension at the foot of Sathon Bridge; therefore, BMA can implement the extension from Taksin Intersection Phetkasem Road by going along the Phaseecharoen Elevated way route by constructing additional structures and stations. There is no problem with the budget since BMA can use the BMA budget of a billion baht for the first section of Phaseecharone Elevated Way (suspended due to strong opposition from people living along Phaseecharone canal) which can be used after revoking the project. 700 million baht from the revoked project is for upgrading the structure to fit the skytrain need and the other 300 million baht is for improving Phaseecharoen Canal. Such extension will start after finishing the construction from Sathon Bridge to Taksin Intersection (Taksin Extension).
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