Airport Link News – 2001-2004

See also: Suvanabhumi Airport & visits to the construction site & Proposal for Bangkok's New Central Park
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NBIA Airport Link bidding delayed by one month - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager Daily, October 12, 2004
SRT Board agrees to delay the bidding process by 30 days due to the mountain of details to filled in. Thus the bidding will be called on November 18, 2004. Furthermore, the negotiation with supplier is go on.

SRT Governor likely to ask SRT Board to extend the Airport Link bidding period - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager Daily, October 10, 2004 and Prachachat Thurakij, October 7-10, 2004
SRT Director is going to ask the SRT Board to extend the bidding process by 3 weeks since all 7 bidders complain that the TOR of this project has so many details that they cannot fill in the details for bidding in a short period of time. The price tag for this project is 25.917060209 billion baht with a total distance of 28.5 km.
Furthermore, the TOR is open for either standard gauge or meter gauge even though SRT workers prefer meter gauge since they are more familiar with the system. Meter gauge is convenient for system expansion once the system has been pressured to use the Northern, Eastern and Southern Railway as the way to expand to Ban Phachee, Chachognsao, and Nakhon Pathom respectively.
On the other hand, standard gauge could be converted to high speed system to Khorat to please the politicians if they want to. This will create a very strong and boiling conflict of interest.
So far, the SRT Board will extend bidding by three weeks (to be open until early December instead of October 18), but the SRT Board will take legal and technical issues into account and they will send the extension letter after the board has approved the extension.
The elevated section is not connected with SRT eastern railway so it is not necessary for the Airport Link to be meter gauge. Even though it is possible to come up with q meter gauge, SRT would be condemned by the public that they are pleasing lazy SRT workers too much. If SRT decided to choose Standard gauge, they will be suspected that they are trying to please German contractors.
This project is a turnkey project so the private sector must have very deep pockets to handle it. There is a provision in the TOR that the private sector may not have to pay all for the turnkey project if the public sector could manage to finance the project to pay to the contractor. This TOR must be fair and square to all parties.
There are many issues to be handled by MOTC for Airport Link:
1) All the additional information must be within the TOR
2) The information for the TOR is really too much but it is necessary due to the status of this megaproject and most data is useful for bidding.
3) The extension must not create the advantage of one company over another company.
Seven companies fight for this project.
1) Mitsui (AKA Mit Siam (Thailand))
2) B. Grimm Group
3) Ch. Karnchang PCL
4) Italian Thai Development PCL
5) AS Engineering PCL
6) Namprasoed Construction Co. Ltd.
7) Powerline Engineering Co. Ltd.
ITD has complained that the supplier and the contractor said the project will have cost overruns due to the steep price of steel and cement and the importation of rolling stocks--shooting up from 26 billion baht to 30 billion baht.
The supplier could not get the credit line from the banks for purchasing the necessary supplies for the check-in system of 3 billion baht. The estimated construction cost for both elevated and at grade level also shot up. So, Siemens declines to supply rolling stock for the system so ITD is going to consider ALSTOM and ROTEM since both have supplied DMU and Diesel Electric Loco to SRT through ITD [ITD acts as an agent at that time].
Furthermore, ITD is going to negotiate with SCB to grant a credit line to purchase rolling stocks as well as other construction materials. If ITD fails to secure the credit lines, ITD will let others scramble for this project.
Ch. Karnchang said they will become a contractor for Mitsui or they will ask Mitsui (which competes for this project) to be a supplier, but they still worry about the price of cement and steel prices which have skyrocketed.
Commentary by Wisarut: Most Bangkokians are desperate for Skytrain-Subway expansion even though columnists at Matichon have been complaining about the permanent environmental and aesthetic damage from the elevated section of the Skytrain-Subway as mentioned here. Forumers think that those Matichon columnists act like hypocrites since they keep complaining about environmental damage or becoming a mouthpiece for NGOs, yet they still live in very high life and do not live like common people. They say they are just hungry for more money from advertising and the circulation as well as donations from NGOs abroad which have been strongly discredited.

SRT hints for more money for the Airport Link - Thaksin threatens steel mills that hoard steel - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thaipost, October 5, 2004
SRT is hinting for more money for the Airport Link after prices for construction materials have shot up. They expect the private sector to bid at a price higher than the initial budget of 26 billion baht.
Premier Thaksin is ordering MOC and MOIndus to search for steel hoarders and grants power to penalize mills which hoard steel. The private sector is also asking the government to help them set up the first full circle steel mill as a way to prevent price fluctuations even though the cost for setting up such a steel mill is at least 80 billion baht.
SRT said they may need to increase the budget for the 26 billion baht Airport Link if the results from bids opened on October 18 show that even the lowest price is still higher than the the medium price set by SRT. Initially, they have to take a look at the details along with the price for the construction materials such as cement and steel. If the construction materials price has shot up to a certain level, SRT will need to increase the medium price for bidding. However, it has to be done after bid opening which will imply that there will only 3-4 qualified bidders to compete. If SRT fails to bargain the price for the Airport Link, they need to call a new bid with a new price since the initial bidding was a very big rush. Premier Thaksin also asks MOIndus and MOC to investigate steel heading and collusion between steel mills and distributors. If there is any price collusion, MOIndus has to shut down the steel mills while MOC will have to investigate steel retailers.
The Minister of Industry, Phinit Jarusombut, said even though the government could solve the price collusion problem, the goal to cut down the steel price to 16 baht/kg is a very elusive goal since the price for billets (steel from the blast furnace) has shot up to US$400/ton while the initial billet price is about US$280. Therefore, the fair price for steel should be 24 baht/kg. The government should help the private sector to come up with the first full circuit steel mill with blast furnace to cut down the impact from price fluctuations.
The Director of Thailand's Institute of Iron and Steel said they agree with the idea of MOIndus to come with a steel mill with blast furnace. However, they have to take the production costs into account. At least the price of the steel from the new blast furnace has to be cheaper than the imported steel and the management. Furthermore, the setting up cost for the steel mill with blast furnace is generally high and it requires an excellent managing system along with the quality control.
If Thailand did set up such steel mill, the country will have very cutting edge industry because no country in ASEAN region has ever come up with such steel mill before and the domestic demand is also high. Therefore, it is necessary to do this on a phase by phase basis. The new steel mill must produce 5 million tons of steel and the price for setting up such steel mill must be about US$2 billion (80 billion baht).
Note: Comment on Airport Link can be seen here.

ITD worrying about Suvannabhum Airport Link due to the interest rate hike and increased construction material costs - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager Daily, September 30, 2004
Mr Premchai Kannasutra (the CEO of ITD) told the press that it is quite hard to get loans and suppliers for the Suvannabhum Airport Link due to the surge on interest rates and skyrocketing construction material prices.
SRT Director said SRT allows the contractor to come up with a budget higher that 26 billion baht medium price--up to 10% of medium price (the maximum limit at 28.6 billion baht).
Even though ITD feel very interested in Suvannahum Airport Link, ITD feels very worried about the looming cost to implement such a system after reading the TOR. The TOR said that the contractors must find creditors and suppliers to back up the project that requires very high and stringent standards, especially the passenger check in system at Makkasan. Only the big guns from abroad would be able to do such things.
Furthermore, the budget of 25,917,060,209 baht is too low for the current market prices. Now, steel prices have shot up by 50%. Only those contractors who have very deep pockets and good connections with suppliers would not have to worry.
MOTC responded that they asked the Ministry of Commerce to impose price controls on construction materials and duty-free steel importation to be used in such a high priority project even though the price surge started in early 2004.
SRT said the bidders should submit the price first. If the wining price is higher than the maximum limit, SRT will negotiate with the winner. The qualified bidder are either a single entity with registered capital not less than 0.5 billion baht or a joint venture with total registered capital more than 1 billion baht. They also need to have experience on handling of a contract on tollways, highway interchanges and bridges with a price tag not less than 750 million baht. Furthermore, they should have experience handling contracts on railway, electro-mechanic or mass transit systems with a price tag not less than 1.5 billion baht. The qualified supplier must have produced more than 200 rolling stock with more than 20 sets for a single project.
So far, the following foreign rolling stock suppliers are asking for the TOR:
1) CITIC - Mainland China
2) Mitsui - Japan
3) Siemens - Germany
4) Alstom - France
5) CAF - Spain
6) Rotem - South Korea
7) ? - Australia
Those foreign rolling stocks suppliers are going to cooperate with local contractors to handle this project. Nevertheless, there will be 2-3 foreign contractors along with the foreign suppliers will come to compete for this project.
Suvannabhum Airport Link consists of 8 stations: 1) Phyathai, 2) Rajprarop, 3) Makkasan/Asok (AKA New Makkasan), 4) Ramkhamhaeng, 5) Hua Mark, 6) Ban Thub Chang, 7) Lad Krabang, 8) NBIA
The bidders would submit the proposal on October 18, 2004 while the qualified bidders would be announced on October 20, 2004. Eventually, winner will be announced in November 8, 2004. The construction will take 900 days and another 90 days for testing the system. It will have to be ready for grand opening on December 5, 2007 (80-year anniversary of His Majesty).
Commentary by Wisarut: I got the insider data that the following contractors (subcontractor would be more appropriate) will get this project, no matter who wins the bidding: 1) ASC Engineering 2) Namprasoed 3) Kamphangphet Vivat 4) Obayashi

(Source: Prachachat Thurakij)

Airport Link and Airport Transit - September 7, 2004
Wisarut comments on the above map (Prachachat Thurakij, August 30-September 1, 2004):
Light Blue line - strictly standard gauge
1) Donmuang
2) Laksi
3) Bang Khen
4) Bangsue
5) Yommaraj
6) Phyathai
7) Rajprarob (Not shown on the map)
8) Makkasan
9) Ram Khamhaeng
10) Hua Mark
11) Ban Thubchang
12) Lad Krabang
13) Suvannabhum
For the Yellow line and the red line, it will be strictly electrified meter gauge since the system will be extended to Nakhon Pathom, Chachongsao, Ban Phachee, Nakhon Pathom and of course Pak Thon via Mahachai and Mae Klong with the new stations for both Me Klong and Mahachai. The section from Phyathai to Hua Lamphong will be electrified meter gauge though so that SRT can simply electrify the section beyond Rangsit, Bangsue, and Hua Lamphong and introduce reciprocal service in the same way the JR system has introduced with the Tokyo Subway.
The list of the stations along east - west corridor of red lien commuter
1) Nakhon Pathom - at grade
2) Salaya (not shown here) - at grade
3) Talingchan
4) Bang Bumru
5) Rama 6 Bridge (near Rama 7 Pier)
6) Bang Son (not shown here - can be either at Bangson stop or Ban Son station)
7) Bang Sue
8) Samsen (not shown here )
9) Chitladda (This one must be separated between a Royal station and public station which connects with MRTA Orange subway line [Yothee station]). This will require a delicate balance.
10) Yommaraj
11) Phyathai
12) Rajprarob (not shown here)
13) Makkasan
14) Hua Mark
15) Thub Chang
16) Lad Krabang
17) Prhachomklao (not shown here)
18) Hua Takhe (not shown here)
19) Ban Nam Priaw
20) Chachongsao
There will be more stations if the passengers demand.

The yellow section of the red line commuter
1) Ban Phachee
2) Ayutthaya (not shown here)
3) Bang pa In (not shown here)
3) Navanakhon (not shown here)
4) Thammasart (not shown here)
5) Chiang Rak (not shown here)
6) Rangsit
7) Don Muang
8) Laksi
9) Bang Khen
10) Samian Naree (not shown here)
10) Km 11 (not shown here)
11) Phaholyothin (not shown here)
12) Bang Sue
13) Samsen (not shown here)
14) Chitladda (not shown here)
15) Yommaraj -> with branch to Phyathai at Chitladda triangle
16) Hua Lamphong
17) Klong San (not shown here - likely not the same old Klong San station since it will be
at Lad Yah Road due to more space)
18) Wongwian Yai
19) Talad Ploo (not shown here)
20) Wat Sai (not shown here)
21) Wat Singh
22) Kan Keha
23) Prom Daen (not shown here)
24) Ban Namjued
25) Mahachai Muang Mai
26) Mahachai (new station to replace the old one)
27) Mae Klong (not shown here - the new station to replace the old one)
28) Amphawa (not shown here)
29) Pak Tho
After both Airport link/transit and Red line commuter network are done, SRT will cease the diesel trains of the commuter system and replace them with electrified versions. The diesels will go to the local transport systems at the regional level (e.g. Nakhon Ratchasima and Hat Yai) to meet surging demands for frequent local trains.

(Source: Prachachat Thurakij)

Hopewell Revival & Suvannahbhum Airport Link - Premier Thaksin's megaprojects - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Prachachat Thurakij, August 30-September 1, 2004

Left: Prachachat Thurakij artist's rendering of the airport link along the old Hopewell route at around Sukhumvit 71 stop - AKA Ram Khamhaeng Station

[History of the Hopewell Project]

The Hopewell revival (Bangsue - Rangsit) along with along with the Suvannahbhum Airport Link (Bangsue - Phayathai - Makkasan - Suvannabhum Airport) are a part of the 400 billion baht mass transit project to be done in six years. This a measure for both traffic jam as well as the reduction of oil consumption. Furthermore, the Suvannabhum Airport Link, which is going to open in 2005, also demands the direct railway access. Therefore, these two projects will go ahead at full speed--especially the Suvannabhum Airport Link.
Furthermore, these two projects will allow direct rail link between Donmaung Airport and Suvannabhum Airport. This will enable SRT to make a frequent commuter service as well as allow more opportunities for SRT land development along railway stations and tracks.
There will be 5 stations from Bangsue to Rangsit using the old Hopewell structure:
1) Bangsue
2) Bang Khen
3) Laksi
4) Donmuang
5) Rangsit
There will be 5 stations from Bangsue to Makkasan
1) Bangsue
2) Samsen
3) Yommaraj
4) Phayathai
5) Makkasan (Ratprarob [substitute for Makkasan])
This project will be started after the Airport Link has become a reality so as to carry passenger from northern Bangkok suburbs to Suvannabhum Airport. This line must be the same standard as Suvannabhum Airport Link. The bidding for this section will start in 2005 to be done in 2008. So far, OTP is seeking financial resources for the project. After that they will come up with an investment form--either 100% private or or joint venture between public or private sector. However, the investors and concession holders can covert the Hopewell structure with some reparation for the subsided pillars by inserting the smaller support pillars to fix the problems--up to 80% of the structure. The unusable structure will be destroyed.
Bangsue to Rangsit requires 38 billion baht of investment and another 20-30 billion baht investment on the Bangsue - Makkasan section.
1) Red Line Commuter (electrified meter gauge - up to Rangsit)
2) DMU track (meter gauge, non-electrified - up to Rangsit)
3) Suvannabhum Airport Link extension Makkasan - Bangsue - Donmuang)
The left rail is the red line commuter which stops along the way while the middle of the track is for DMUs and the right section is the high speed rail link to Suvannabhum.
All the stations will be elevated like BTS and the land development around the station and along the track is necessary which can be separated into three sections:
1) area within the station
2) area within 500 meter radius
3) area within 2 km radius
However it is necessary to review the project by BMA City Planning as well as other city plans and mass transit & road projects which require updating data from the Social and Economic perspective which can be shown in the following examples:
1) Bangsue Station - This has to be developed for a transportation hub from the eastern and western sections. Furthermore Siam Cement PCL (HQ at Bangsue) wants to develop a business center near Bangsue so the land development will be a commercial area with mixed uses--new park and rides, the connection system, and residential area with high to moderate density.
2) Bangkhen Station - The new Bangkhen Station must be moved to be close to the Vibhavadee gate of Kasetsart University. The local road development is also needed so as to link with major road such as Ngam Wangwan and Vibhavadee Highway. The main development will aim to connect to bureaucrat offices at Kasetsart University and nearby areas. The commercial and residential development is a secondary development.
3) Laksi Station - The new Laksi Station will be moved to be at the center of Chang Watthana road to serve as the new bureaucrat center at Laksi. Changwatthana Road and local road will have to be upgraded to allow fast connection with the new bureaucrat center. The residential development is a secondary consideration.
4) Rangsit Station - This will be the new community center with the hub for BMTA buses as well as intercity buses. The commercial development and social activities also have to put into the area around Rangsit station. It will be a transfer station due to the huge residential and commercial area in Rangsit.
This project has given a big boost to contractors and the real estate along the track is booming. ITD is planning to grab both construction contracts as well as the land development along the tracks (new condominiums).
In the next two months, ITD is going to open a condominium project on 22 rai of land at Talad Mai Donmuang near Donmuang Station (the first of condominium project run by ITD). This condominium is for the middle classes with a price tag of 1-2 million baht/unit. Each unit will have 60-90 usable area and there will be 2 condo buildings with 10 floors.
Commentary by Wisarut: The high-speed section is strictly the AC electrified standard gauge (25 KV) while the red line commuter network can be either the DC electrified standard gauge or DC electrified meter gauge (1.5 kV).
DC power is suitable for commuter systems since the brakes of DC system is working very fast while the brake on AC system takes time due to higher speeds and inherent limitations. However, Delhi Metro is trying to fix such braking disadvantages. Delhi Metro is the only mass transit system which uses AC power (25 kV). India Railway can electrify AC power traction on their own so they ask South Korean ROTEM to produce AC power rolling stock to used for Indian broad gauge (5 feet 6 inches) for Delhi Metro before making technology transfer so that Delhi Metro could produce rolling stock on their own to supply the mass transit systems for other major cities in India (Mumbai, Kolkatta, Chennai, etc.). This could be a big advantage since it can be used on Indian broad gauge system without problems.

Selling the bidding form for the Suvannahbhum Airport Link--Contractor giants scrambling for the 26 billion baht project - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Matichon Daily, August 17, 2004

[The Nation had a peculiar article about this (MAKKASAN RAIL-LINE: 7 firms eye Bt26-bn airport link - The Nation, September 3, 2004) with all info attributed to an "industry source." The info is much more vague than what was in the Thai press and The Nation included "But for the sake of the country, the government should ensure fair play."]

SRT is selling the bidding form for the Suvannahbhum Airport Link and the City Air Terminal along with the Eastern Railway with a total distance of 28.5 km and 8 stations.
1. Phyathai [connecting with BTSC]
2. Ratprarob [substitute for Makkasan]
3. Makkasan [new Makkasan station at Asok stop - City Air Terminal connecting with Phetburi station]
4. Ram Khamhaeng [substitute for Klongtan station due to the convenient road connection]
5. Hua Mark [near Jusco Hua Mark and Sri Nakhari Road]
6. Thub Chang [with park and ride for Motorway and Eastern Kanchanaphisek]
7. Lad Krabang [last station before Suvannahbhum - connecting with Rom Klao Road]
8. Suvannahbhum [underground station]
The bidding will be sold from August 20-31, 2004. The bidding competition will be held on October 8, 2004 and the winner announcement will be held on November 8, 2004 with the standard price of 25.917060209 billion baht. If everything goes as planned, the services will be started on December 5, 2007.
The list of foreign inventors that are scrambling for this project are:

1) CITIC (China) - with CITIC group as financial partners
2) Mitsui (Japan) - with JBIC and JICA as financial partners
3) Siemens (Germany) - with KfW as financial partners
4) Alsthom (France)
5) CAF (Spain)
6) ROTEM (South Korea)
7) Bombadier (Canada)
8) Australian railway suppliers...
The winner must be able to pay for the project first. After the project is done, SRT is going to pay the principle along with interest--10 billion baht from SRT and 20 billion baht from central governments.
The estimated number of passengers for the first year is 100,000 a day and it will increase according to the number of tourists. The express trailway from Makkasan to Suvannahbhum (nonstop service) is 100-120 baht/trip. Only children, senior citizen and the airport officers will get half price (50-60 baht/trip). Furthermore, a monthly ticket for those who use the Airport Express daily will be issued. For the Airport Commuter, the price will be the same as Skytrain-Subway (10-40 baht).

Irregularities on the Airport Link and SRT's response - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thai-language webboards, August 7, 2004
The rumor monger said: SRT workers are the ones who cause the delay on the Airport Link since they complain about errors in the consultant's proposals due to the financial conflicts of interest between the SRT officers and the consultants even though the bidding should be started on July 10, 2004. This delay is also a plan behind the scenes for SRT to collude with their favorite contractors. Also the consultant has hired unprofessional subconsultants to handle the design which will cause the project delay and cost overruns.
Therefore, the media should make a serious investigation on the TOR which have been flip flopped several times. Otherwise, collusion will become a reality as in other projects.
The SRT Officer's response: The consultant you mention has not finished the contract drafting for bidding yet. We get tired of the daily meetings so as to keep Airport Link project running on schedule. If the SRT Board, MOTC Ministry and media believe your rumor, it will cause project delay and cost overruns. Will you take any responsibility for the damage you have caused SRT with your rumor? Definitely you are a shameless troll who is going to inflict damage on the nation, you traitor!

Siemens - Lavalin - Mitsu - Rotem fighting tooth and nail for 30 billion baht Airport Link - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Bangkok Biznew, July 26, 2004
Suvannabhum Airport Link gets very first priority so as to solve traffic jams and facilitate transportation between the City Center and NBIA. The Asian Engineering Consultant Co. Ltd, Pacific Consulting International, and Thai Engineering Consultant Co. Ltd. have already finished the detailed design of Suvannabhum Airport Link and they are going to draft a TOR so as to enable SRT to sell the bidding form in early August.
There are eight sections of this Suvannabhum Airport Link :

1) Basic structure
2) Rails system
3) Electric train rolling stock
4) Subpower station
5) Communication
6) Signals
7) Tickets
8) Maintenance center
The eight sections require companies with specialized skills. Companies need to have very deep pockets since this project is a turnkey project. A single company cannot handle such massive tasks. Therefore, the joint venture consortium is a must.
Siemens (Germany), Lavalin (Canada), Rotem (Korea), Mitsui-Mitsubishi-Sumitomo Group (Japan), and China Railway (China) are storming the SRT office. Therefore, SRT will have to come up with international bidding by inspecting the technical expertise first and then the construction cost. Those who pass the technical examination and show the lowest construction costs will win the bidding. All the bidders have to meet the SRT regulations on the bidding:
1) Depositing 5% of the whole project - 1.5 billion baht
2) Previous projects which companies have handled must be at least half of the project price - 15 billion baht
Thai companies must negotiate with foreign joint ventures so that they can join the international consortium. This bidding will be competitive bidding. SRT will be able to pick the winner by the end of 2004 and start the project to be completed in 30 months.
The companies will have to come up either meter gauge and standard gauge--or 750 VDC power or 25 KV power.
The government will decide who will run the Airport Link--SRT or private sector or public sector.
The estimated cost will be:
19.7 billion baht on civil works
6.16 billion baht on electronics and electro-mechanics
4.07 billion baht for rolling stock
EIRR = 22.3%
FIRR = 7.4%
Construction in 24 months
Test run for 6 months
Importation = 55%
1) Suvannabhum Express: 15 minutes nonstop service from Makkasan to Suvannabhum
2) Suvannabhum Commuter: 28 minutes from Phayathai to Suvannabhum with 8 stations (Phyathai, Rajprarob, New Makkasan [Asok], Ramkhamhaeng, Hua Mark, Thub Chang, Lad Krabang, NBIA)
The estimated number of daily passengers in 2012 is 83,500 a day - 27,600 passengers from Airport Express and 55,900 passengers from Airport Commuter. There will be eight sets of Airport Express with a 4-car formation (total 32 cars) with 10 minutes headway and 6 sets of Airport Commuter with 4-car formation (total 24 cars) with 15 minutes headway.
Makkasan will become Airport City Terminal--a new building for passengers to NBIA allowing to check-in at Makkasan and there will be a shopping complex as well. SRT is choosing a consultant for 20 million baht to handle Makkasan complex along with permission for private development. It will take 18 months to get the Makkasan complex complete and ready to serve Suvannabhum Airport.
Commentary by Wisarut: Since this railway track will be eventually extended to Bangsue, Rangsit, Chachoengsao, New City at Banna, etc. setting up the system as the high-speed standard gauge with 25 kV power supply is the best choice. Setting up the system for further extension at the first place will cut down the future expense when the project is going to expand.
SRT seems to keep changing the number of rolling stock and the formation. So many flip-flops will cause lots of confusion and create a sense of distrust toward SRT.

Thai stories and web comments - July 21, 2004
Wisarut reports on what's going on in Thai-language forums:
Suvannabhum Airport Link
The Suvannabhum Airport Link will be bid in August after the detailed design is done by Aisna Engineering Consultant Co.Ltd. It will a turnkey project. After choosing the winner, the contract will be signed by the end of December 2004 (here and here).

More details of the Airport Link: Suriya pushing SRT to conceive the 30 billion baht airport link with private investment - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Prachachat Thurakij, July 1-3, 2004
Suriya is pushing the Suvannabhum Airport Link forward with a turnkey process and private investment along the tracks. The bidding for the Suvannabhum Airport Link will be held in mid-July 2004. The contractor will be awarded by the end of October 2004 and the contract will be signed December 2004 since it is an urgent project. The project was approved by the cabinet on June 1, 2004.
The project will be turnkey project in the same way as Southern Kanchanaphisek Ring Road and be in 2007.
This is a strategic line to be completed quickly and linked with Skytrain at Phyathai, Subway at Phetburi with the maximum speed of 160 kph. The civil works budget for elevated tracks will be 19.7769 billion Baht. System installation and electrification will be 6.163 billion baht. Rolling stock for the Airport Link Express will be 4.075 billion baht.
There will be two kinds of services:
1) Airport Express Makkasan - NBIA nonstop to reach Airport in 15 minutes - 100 baht/trip
2) Airport Commuter - Phyathai - NBIA to reach the airport in 30 minutes - 10 baht + No. km (max 40 Baht)
This will link the CBD with NBIA to cut energy bills and traffic jams.
The depot for the airport link will be at 40-rai of SRT land in Klongtan while the City Air Terminal will be at Makkasan. Makkasan will have commercial development as a business-commercial center. SRT does not have to use the Hopewell structure at Klongtan.
The development of 8 stations will be:
1) Phyathai - Commercial office building and the connecting via duct to Phayathai station.
2) Rajprarob - Commercial and trade center and the connection to Pratoonam - and the area of the old Makkasan will be developed
3) Makkasan (Asok) will have some development on 19.6 rai of land and the connection to Ratchadaphisek, Rama 9, New Phetburi Road, Asok-DIndaeng Road, Kamphaengphet 7 Road and the interchange with Phetburi station
4) Ram Khamhaeng will connect with Kamphaengphet 7 Road, Rama 9, New Phetburi, Ram Khamhaeng Road, Phatthanakarn Sukhumvit Road. Depot will be at Klongtan and close to RCA.
5) Hua Mark is a good interchange to Sri Nakarin and Motorway - needs a park and ride.
6) Ban Thub Chang close to Thubchang Interchange - needs a park and ride to attract those who go along Eastern Kanchanaphisek from Minburi and those who use the motorway
7) Lad Krabang - near Rom Klao Interchange - needs to pick up those who live along Onnut, ROM Klao and King Kaeo.
8) NBIA - underground station.
Each station will have 6 sections: 1) Gates, 2) Ticket selling area, 3) Platforms, 4) Stores, 5) Services, 6) Interchange with other modes of transportation
The first batch of Airport Link rolling stocks to be used in the first 15 years will be:
1) 6 sets of Airport Express (5-car formation), 2) 9 sets of Airport Commuters (5-car formation)
As demand surges due to either popularity or the major expansions to Bangsue via Chitladda Palace, SRT will buy more rolling sets.
Commentary by Wisarut: Probably SRT has learned from KLIA Airport Express as well as the HK Airport Express that they have to get more passengers from commuter lines since relying on airport passengers alone will not work.

Details on the airport link - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Prachachart Thurakij, July 1-3, 2004
Prachachat Thurakij correspondents got the messages from SRT that the Airport Link will use Standard Gauge since the system will eventually be expanded to the New City at Banna as well as Nakhon Ratchasima. After expansion to Khorat, the new EMU which have the maximum speed of 300 kph will be the next batch of Airport Link EMUs
The 160 kph maximum is already ruled out since meter gauge has an inherent limitation of 120 kph--even when using the 60 kg/m welded rails.
There will be 15 sets of 5-car Emus for the 1st batch of the Airport Link:
1) Express version - 6 sets - 1-way ticket for the Express version will cost the passenger 100 baht
2) Commuter version - 9 sets - 1-way ticket for commuter version will cost the passenger from 10-40 baht
Both are externally identical, but the interior is very different since the Airport Express must have a luggage facility and soft leaning seats while the commuter version will have hard seats (like in the Skytrain-Subway) and standing area to pack in more passengers. They have learnt from KLIA Express to pick more commuter passengers than airport passengers.

NBIA line map - June 24, 2004
Scanned map of the NBIA line (300 kb) from Manager Daily, June 21, 2004.

Satirical comments from Than Setthakij Sunday: 'Hot Issues' by Ung Thong - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Than Setthakij, June 20, 2004
1) Why Traffic Policy Office and Premier Thaksin still tell a big lie (misleading for much more polite word) to the public by calling the airport link the "High Speed Train for Suvannabhum Airport" even though the specification of the Suvannabhum Airport Link states that the maximum speed is "160 kph"? The true high speed train must have the maximum speed at least 200 kph! Therefore, Suvannabhum Airport Link should be called as "Super Express Airport Link" instead.
2) The Nationwide Double Tracking may be aborted even before being conceived since it seems to SRT that the government has not shown any shadows of the promised 400 billion baht budget for it at all. Even worse, the meddlesome Traffic Policy Office have effectively ruined the SRT version of nationwide double tracking. Therefore the 6-year plan for nationwide double tracking is not even started yet.
3) There was a father whose name is "government" who has 3 sons, the sickest and oldest one was called "SRT", the middle very vigorous son's name was "BMA" and the little, but tricky one is named "MRTA". When three sons want to do the same thing, the elder brother and the little brother just ask their father to borrow money from the neighbors as well as the foreign creditors in addition to savings.
On the other hand, the middle son gets nothing at all even though the middle son just wants to borrow only a half of the budget to complete the Taksin extension. Even worse, the father just tightened the noose around the neck of BMA as the way to force middle son to transfer all assets to the tricky little brother. The middle son will be succumb to the strangulation while the father is still telling a big lie to the public that he treats his sons equally.

Hoarding land along the Airport Link route - land prices double - Ladkrabang is the most lucrative of all - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Than Setthakij, June 24-26, 2004
The Suvannabhum Airport Link is going to start after the bidding form is issued on July 1, 2004 and land speculation along the Eastern railway is popping up like mushrooms during the rainy season with the focus on commercial development of the eight stations for the Airport Link. The construction will start by the end of 2004.
SRT said the 30-billion baht Suvannabhum Airport Rail Link Project will start from Phayathai Stop and then go along Eastern Railway and then turn right after passing Lad Krabang station to head into the underground tunnel at the main terminal.
The elevated track will be 60 m high (sic - should be '6 meters high') and there will be 8 stations - 28.5 km. It will take 28 minutes to run from Phyathai to NBIA.
1. Phyathai (connecting Phayathai Station of Skytrain and Rama 6 Road)
2. Rat Prarob (the stop closest to Pratoo Nam and it will swallow the old Makkasan Station to connect with Bangkok Palace Hotel)
3. Makkasan (New Makkasan Station - the main station swallowing Asok Stop) This new Makkasan station will interchange with Phetburi Station of MRTA subway.
4. Ram Khamhaeng (New Klongtan Station - This station is at the beginning of Ram Khamhaeng road. Furthermore it is near Klong Tan intersection and has much better road access than the old Klongtan station. Even Saen Saeb Boat can access this station with a short walk).
5. Hua Mark (the station near Jusco Sri Nakarin - should have a link to Jusco so as to attract more passengers)
6. Thub Chang (Thubchang Stop - need park and ride to attract those who use Motorway and Eastern Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road).
7. Lad Krabang (the last station before heading to NBIA - needs a feeder bus to pick up KMITL students)
8. NBIA - terminal station inside the main terminal.
The Airport express (25 km) will run nonstop from Makkasan to NBIA - 15 minutes from Makkasan to reach NBIA. Makkasan will function as the City Air Terminal to deal with airline passengers.
The construction budget will be 25.917 billion baht - civil works, signals and rolling stocks. The other 4.083 billion baht is a payment to NBIA for the construction of underground tunnels.
Japanese investors (Mitsubishi for rolling stock and Mitsui for the main contractor) with support from JBIC and JICA as well as German investors (Siemens for rolling stock and B. Grimm for the main contractor) with support from KfW are going to fight for this project even though Chinese and Canadian investors are also showing strong interest in this project.
The land development around eight stations will be under serious consideration which requires consultants to deal with this matter.
Capitalists have hoarded the land along Eastern Railway - doubling the land prices already from 1 million baht/rai to 2-3 million/rai. Makkasan has a very high potential since the new Makkasan will connect with Phetburi Subway station and Makkasan Depot is the prime target. On the other hand, Kingkaeo-Lad Krabang Road will become a new entertainment and commercial zone around NBIA (except the area close to existing factories). However, they have to take pollution and environmental degradation into account.
The existing suburb villages from Hua Mark to Lad Krabang will make connections to the minor Airport Link stations. Those suburb villages from Sri Nakharin to Ladkrabag are for those well to do people since it is within the green belt areas.

Responses to the airport link - June 15, 2004
Wisarut reports: After reading the response about Suvannabhum Airport Link, there are 100 responses on this subject (on the Manager website). Most want this airport link to expand to their home which is near the Northern Railway tracks. Only a few oppose this project--those with automobile bias as usual.

Suvannabhum Airport Link - '150-200 baht for express ticket' & station list - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Matichon, June 2, 2004, Thai Post, June 2, 2004, & Manager Daily, June 1-2, 2004
[Ed.: Been reading extremely generalized accounts of this in the English-language dailies? has all the details from the Thai-language press.]

The cabinet approved the Suvannabhum Airport Link at 4:30 PM on June 1, 2004 as a turnkey project. The government will pay for the system by using Wayuphak Funds and the 2005 annual budget.
The first 4 billion will be paid to NBIA for an underground tunnel while the other 26 billion will pay for the elevated and at-grade track from Phyathai to NBIA via the Eastern Railway.
The bidding will start in July 10, 2004 and the bidding result will come in October 2004.
The ticket price of the Express Train (Makkasan - NBIA Nonstop) will be 150-200 baht while the commuter version will be paid according to the distance--10 + 2.5 baht/km.
The maximum speed will be 160 km/hr and it will take 15 minutes from Makkasan to NBIA. There will be an express every 15 minutes (8-car type) while the commuter will run in every 30 minutes (4-car type). The expected number of passengers will be 10,000 a day.
There will be eight stations for the Suvannabhum Airport Commuter
1) Phyathai -> between Rama 6 Road and Phyathai Road -> upgrading from Phyathai Stop -> interchange with Skytrain at Phyathai Station
2) Rajaprarop -> The western edge of Makkasan Maintenance Center -> upgrading from Rajaprarop Stop -> This is the station closest to Pratoo Nam but it is closer to Soi Moh Leng (former PM Chuan Leekphai's House) and Mahanakhon Gypsum Building. Better construct a via duct to have direct link with Mahanakhon Gypsum.
3) Makkasan -> This must be reconstructed into a much larger Makkasan with the western edge at the old Makkasan Station and the eastern edge near Phetburi Stop so as to allow the interchange with MRTA Phetburi Station. Via duct connecting with Bangkok Palace Hotel and BMTA bus rerouting are a few big musts in addition to the new commercial center. If it is necessary to come up with monorail connecting Pratoonam-Ratprasong-Ploenchit with Makkasan, please do it now.
4) Ram Khamhaeng -> This should be named as "Klongtan" since it is exactly at Klongtan Railway Station -> needs a via duct connecting Tops Supermarket and RCA with this station to reinvigorate RCA as "Business at day/Entertainment at Night". Via duct to Siemens (Thailand) and Italian Thai Development PCL would add more regular customers who are white-collar workers.
5) Hua Mark -> This is suburb area. This station should have a via duct to Jusco Sri Nakharin to add more regular customers including the Japanese who set up their homes in the Huamark - Sri Nakharin area. Via duct to B. Grimm Group/Unilever would be a big plus to add regular customers from both companies. This is also the beginning of the motorway - better come up with Park and Ride facilities.
6) Thub Chang -> Thub Chang is railway station near the Interchange between Eastern Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring road and Bangkok-Chonburi Motorway. This is also close to Muslim communities in the eastern Bangkok suburbs.
7) Lad Krabang -> Lad Krabang Railway station - the last station before elevating to go across Onnut Road and Rom Klao road to go to NBIA. Better run a feeder bus to pick up the passengers from Minburi, Rom Klao, and Land Krabang who want to go to NBIA.
8) NBIA Terminal station - underground station in the main terminal.
Initially the private sector will have pay for the construction and the government will pay back in the annual budget of 2005. AEC Asian Engineering Consultant Co.Ltd. and the government offices (MOTC, MOF, NESDB) are drafting TOR for bidding of the Airport Link--ready for bidding on July 10, 2004. So far Japanese, German and Australia investors are keen to compete for the project.
There are seven approved projects with total price tag of 1.619 billion baht waiting to start:
1) Design of Red Line Commuter network - 156 million baht
2) Design of Taksin Transportation Center and new Maeklong railway as a part of Red line commuter networks - 179 million baht
3) Design of Commuter and Intercity Railway system - 460 million baht
4) Design of Laem Phak Bia project - 428 million baht
5) Hiring a consultant to handle Laem Pak Ba project - 40 million baht
6) Design of MRTA Subway expansions - 300 million baht
7) Hiring a consultant to handle MRTA subway expansion - 76 million baht
Earlier: Suvannabhum Airport Link heading to cabinet approval on June 1 - Matichon Daily, May 31, 2004 and Thairath, May 31, 2004
Earlier: A tale of two newspapers

Difficult and expensive to evict slum dwellers along railway tracks - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thai Post, June 1, 2004
The 35 billion baht airport link (Phyathai -Makkasan - NBIA) is a part of the 120 billion baht SRT Red Line Commuter Network.
However, land expropriation to evict those who invade SRT land along the railway tracks will take a long time since there are lots of slum dwellers living along railway tracks.
Even when the defunct Hopewell project was alive, they had very hard time to remove slum dwellers. Team Consultant said SRT will have to pay 3.8 billion baht for land to move slum dwellers to new designated places.

Thai Cabinet approves rail link to new international airport - AP, June 1, 2004
A 30 billion baht (US$739 million) elevated rail project to link Bangkok with its soon-to-be-opened new international airport was approved Tuesday by Thailand's Cabinet, said Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit.
Construction of the rail link is supposed to take about two years, and it is expected to begin operating in 2006, one year after the opening of the new Suvarnabhumi Airport, he said...
The contractor is required to pay all the construction costs upfront and the government will pay back upon completion, with interest, he said.
The train would run at a maximum speed of 160 kilometers (100 miles) an hour...

From yesterday:
Suvannabhum Airport Link heading to cabinet approval on June 1 - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Matichon Daily, May 31, 2004 and Thairath, May 31, 2004
Minister Suriya told the press that the cabinet is going to approve the Suvannabhum Airport Link (Phyathai - Makkasan - NBIA -> 26 km) in the same way as the Southern Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road which asks Ch Karnchang to find the funds and then the Expressway Authority will pay back later (a turnkey project). This project is part of the 400 billion baht mass transit system expansion.
MOTC expects ETA will be able to sign the contract with Ch. Karnchang PCL on May 31 and MRTA is going to call a new bid for Purple Line (Bangsue - Rattnathibet - Bangyai) and the BTSC will try to call a new bit for Taksin Extension and Samut Prakarn extensions - with the condition that MRTA can take over BTSC after Ch. Karnchang agrees to cut their prices to 2 baht/share and BTSC's creditors agree to sell their stock to the government.
The SRT Governor said there are several foreign investors who have strong interest to invest in this project:

  Country Creditors Contractors Rolling Stock
1 Japan JICA + JBIC Mitsu Mitsubishi
2 Germany KfW German + Thai Siemens
3 China Bank of China? China Rail Construction? China Rail
4 Canada ? ? Bombadier
SRT will pay back NBIA 4 billion baht for the finished underground tunnel construction (Airport Station) while the other 26 billion Baht will pay for the system.
Commentary by Wisarut: Turnkey projects are known as a breeding ground for corruption. Project delays will create cost overruns like the Southern Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road has shown.

A tale of two newspapers: Traffic at the new airport - May 28, 2004
Yesterday we ran the translated Thaipost story on the right and suspected that there would soon be a Bangkok Post story coming. Today the Post did chime in on this subject in a characteristic way--to reassure English-language readers that the government was taking care of the potential problem with various plans that "will be forwarded to the cabinet for approval." The Thaipost story, on the other hand, is an attempt to soften and mold public opinion about the lack of a rail system to the airport.

Delays in completion of road, rail projects likely to leave roads jammed for two years - Bangkok Post, May 28, 2004
Problems in road travel to and from the new international airport are likely to be a major headache until an express train link and the southern ring road are completed, more than two years after the first plane is due to take off.
The two projects have been delayed for different reasons.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra criticised Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit for the slow progress on the rail link during Tuesday's cabinet meeting.
Mr Suriya admitted that ``without completion of both projects, the new airport will encounter traffic problems''.
He said a 30-billion-baht investment plan for the Airport Link 31-km train system from Makkasan to Suvarnabhumi airport at Nong Ngu Hao, Bang Phli, Samut Prakan, will be forwarded to the cabinet for approval next Tuesday.
He had also directed the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) to accelerate the design process. He hoped tenders would be called in July and a contractor hired in November. The construction time is estimated at two years and six months...
Mr Suriya expects the Expressway and Rapid Transit Authority to sign a contract with the selected builder Ch Karnchang Plc next week for the 22.5-km ring road from Bang Phli to Bang Khun Tian, after contractual disagreements had delayed the deal. The Attorney-General's Office is now scrutinising the contract details.
Construction of the ring road is expected to take two years and six months.
Premchai Karnasuta, president of Italian-Thai Development Plc, the airport constructor, confirmed Suvarnabhumi airport would open in September 2005.
Airport rail not necessary: Most people drive cars - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Thaipost, May 27, 2004
Deputy Director of Suvannabhum Airport Development Co. Ltd. (Mr Suwat Waneesuputra) said the Suvannabhum Rail Link--even with the Makkasan Airport City Terminal and Makkasan Trade Center at Makkasan is not necessary to invest in in the first five years since almost all people (99.5%) still rely on automobiles (private cars, taxi, BMTA buses) to go to Donmuang Airport. This system could be applied very well to Suvannabhum Airport.
Furthermore, the construction of the new separation tracks from Lad Krabang to NBIA along with the new elevated track may be so costly that it is unworthy to invest at all. Even the trade center at Makkasan may not help because those who go to the airport and those who go shopping are very different people. BMA city planning is unsuitable for rail transit since it was spreading out not focusing into many subcenters as in other countries..
Therefore, Premier Thaksin should not feel worried about the delay on the implementation of the Suvannabhum Airport Link. The eight lane motorways as well as the widened roads around Suvannabhum Airport would do this job.
Suvannabhum New City will be developed in the next two years since it is necessary to wait for the Suvannabhum City Development Corporation Act to become a reality.
Commentary by Wisarut on the Thai Post article: The kindest thing to say about this is that Mr Suwat Waneesuputra may be displaying some kind of prejudice in line with the U.S. mindset which is hostile to railways. Look at JFK and LAX and Dulles Airport as a few sample of poor planning. The rail links from those airports to downtown are either frozen or coming up into a reality with very lousy results. Examples of US airports with proper systems would be Atlanta International Airport, SFO, or even O'Hare. On the other hand, Mr Suwat is displaying the anti-mass transit bias that has been a hallmark of the present government (despite all the talk about mass transit).
If SRT has offer very good and frequent rail services to Donmuang Airport, people would not bother paying hundreds or thousands baht for taxi (expressway fee included) in addition to the 50 baht surcharge to ride taxi waiting in front of the terminal gates. Even airport buses are very hard to find.
Mr Suwat may never suffer from traffic jams when he goes to their airport so he can say something like the above. Fuel prices have skyrocketed... a feeder LRT system from the area around NBIA would be great. Furthermore, Thaipost columnists and journalist usually write against any government they do not like with very venomous tones.

The specifications for the airport link - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager Daily, September 26, 2003
After getting the approval from the NBIA board to construct the airport link as well as the tunnel at the northern terminal, SRT has come up with the specification of airport link rolling stock:
1) Airport Express -> Makkasan - NBIA - 25 km -> 6-8 car type - nonstop to NBIA 15 minute interval
2) Airport Link -> 28 km - 4-car type, 30 minute interval stop at the following stations: Phyathai, Makkasan, Phetburi, Klong Tan, Hua Mark, Lad Krabang, NBIA.

Commentary by Wisarut: Looks pretty abnormal since the slower airport link trains should be longer than airport express since they are supposed to pick more passengers and take longer time to go to the airport. If SRT insists on the 8-car type for the airport express, they should allow either MRTA or BTSC to extend to Makkasan to feed the airport express with more passengers.

SRT land to become major airport link - April 16, 2003
this land is the railroad junkyard in the center of town that probably should be Bangkok's 'Central Park.'
Wisarut Bholsithi comments: SRT will have to get cooperation from the SRT Union since this project would definitely involve the eviction of SRT workers who work and live in the Makkasan area. SRT should also renovate the junkyard at Makkasan to become a Railway Museum.
How to link to the Skytrain (at the Western End of City Terminal) and Subway (at the Eastern End) with City Terminal in Makkasan: A cheap way would be would be long escalators and moving ramps (for moving baggage). However, it would be much better if SRT has allowed BTSC (via BMA) have a track for feeder service to Makkasan (it would be necessary to construct extra rails to handle the standard gauge Skytrain). Running feeder bus service from Chitlom (or Ploenchit) to Makkasan is another cheap option, but traffic jams around Pratoonam would render the feeder buses unpopular.
Working on the tunnel at the new airport: ITD (Italian Thai Development) is working on the 576-million baht underground station and tunnel under the main terminal of NBIA. They may have to dig tunnels large enough to accommodate the standard gauge railway even though SRT hopes to run the meter gauge railway to NBIA.

High-speed airport link plan revived
- April 16, 2003
This project was previously canceled to much criticism: (Prime Minister) Thaksin told the press that NBIA (the new airport) does not need to rush on the construction of a mass transit system linking NBIA with downtown Bangkok due to the fact that there will be an 8-lane highway with no traffic lights. (from Thaksin puts brakes on railway train--only the underground tunnel approved) The entry tunnel and platforms for a future rail link are being constructed though. Further down on the same page are earlier articles about both the BTS (the Skytrain operator) and MRTA (the subway operator) both wanting to build the train. The latest Hopewell revival plan envisions a spur to the airport, but the plan requires that the private sector come up with hundreds of millions of dollars to give to the State Railway of Thailand for the investment.

Criticism of no rail service for the new airport - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Bangkok Biznew and Dailynews, December 5, 2002
Criticism of no rail service for the airport
Governor Samak said he strongly disagrees with Minister Suriya about the policy on the connection to NBIA (Minister Suriya has postponed the implementation of rail service to NBIA). Governor Samak still insists that the 21-km extension from Onnut to NBIA is viable. It requires only 21 billion baht compared to 30 billion baht if BTSC decided to go along the Bang Na-Trat Highway. There is presently a three-month study being conducted on the feasibility of the NBIA link via Onnut. After that BMA will issue a TOR to invite the private sector to invest in this project. Governor Samak boasted that the private sector in knocking down his doors to invest in this project. If BMA is allowed to start now, it will be done within 2 years - just before the official opening of the airport.

Thaksin puts brakes on railway train--only the underground tunnel approved
Summarized and translated by Wisarut Bholsithi
Matichon Daily, September 3, 2002
Thairath Daily, September 3, 2002
Thaipost Daily, September 3, 2002
Manager Daily, September 3, 2002

[This basically ends the hubbub detailed in these earlier articles: Decision on airport trains `needed now' (Bangkok Post, August, 2002) and SRT doubts it can build train system for new airport and Tunnel to the airport and Who will build a high-speed train to the airport?]

[An important point in this article (one that has angered the government): Premchai Kannasut, the CEO of Italian-Thai, mentions that there are no actual plans for the terminal yet--the plans in hand now are only basic ones for the bidding process with no details. He cautions that the terminal, as proposed, will only be able to handle 30 million passengers--not the 40 million that are expected by 2005. Premchai has been summoned by Minister Pracha to explain why he made these comments damaging to the NBIA project.]

Premier Thaksin went to the construction site of NBIA had had a meeting with NBIA board for 3 hours and then inspected the progress of construction by helicopter. After that, the premier told the press that the construction will be done by December 2004, ready for test run on the system on December 5, 2004, and then official opening on August 12, 2005.

For the main terminal, it has a capacity to carry 40 million passengers. If the budget is cut properly, the price tag of the airport will be 100 billion baht, instead of 120 billion baht. So far, the NBIA is 20.1% done (from a 20.5% target).

Thaksin also asked AAT and NBIA to make a PR effort to extinguish any bad rumor about the airport and correct any misunderstandings which might cause airlines to move out of Donmuang Airport (BKK) to be stationed at Changi Airport (Singapore).

Thaksin told the press that NBIA does not need to rush on the construction of a mass transit system linking NBIA with downtown Bangkok due to the fact that there will be an 8-lane highway with no traffic lights. Furthermore, Thaksin asked SRT to further cut the budget for the airport rail link (Makkasan - NBIA) from 23 billion baht and draft a new investment plan for this matter, with a lower price tag. Therefore, Thaksin has decided to put a brake on SRT's 23-billion baht railway link to NBIA due to its high cost. Nevertheless, Premier Thaksin order the contractors to construct the tunnel for the future rail link, with a price tag of 680 million baht, and asks NBIA to pay first before asking SRT or BTSC to pay back later.

Thoedsak (Head of SRT Board) has grudgingly accepted the decision even though the SRT Board want the private concession for this rail link project. However, the design on the construction of the SRT Rail link is not done yet, so SRT will do their best to finish the construction design on time so as to get the approval as soon as possible. SRT hopes that they will get the contractor by October 2002 and sign the contract by the end of 2002. It would take about a year to finish the design and the construction can be started in 2004 since the rail link is not necessary to be done at the same time as the Airport, but SRT needs a budget for the construction since SRT is in financial trouble.

Air Marshall Nopporn (Head of NBIA Board) said NBIA will pay for the tunnel first, and construct the irrigation system to drain water in case of flood. NBIA will construct
the northern ramp connecting to the motorway while the western ramp will connect with King Kaeo Road, and the southern ramp will connect with the Bangna-Chonburi Expressway,
but needs a connection with the 1st stage expressway at Bang Na (and the 3rd stage later on) to function properly. The control tower will be done in August 2004.

The NBIA Development Board has approved the plan for the NBIA to invest in the Custom Free Zone with a price tag of 6.29 billion baht and parking space for aircraft with a price
tag of 685 million baht, since this custom free zone will save lots investment money and airport expense with an economic benefit of 4.11 billion baht within 20 years.

NBIA and EGAT have to remove some high voltage power line (owned by EGAT) out of the airport area for safety and pay 721 million baht for the removal.

Premchai Kannasut (CEO of Italian-Thai Development PCL) told the press that the NBIA board denies that the plan for bid calling is incomplete, but in the contractor's viewpoint it is and delays are possible. So far, ITD has paid 3 billion baht out of 36 billion baht for the main terminal construction while working on the foundation. The main terminal is 10% done (at the end of August 2002) since NBIA refuses to approve the 7-8 subcontractors and 3 suppliers offered by ITD. ITD also needed the construction control consultants and design consultants to work on the terminal since the terminal designed by MJTA is for bidding (not for construction) and needs comprehensivedetails. ITD has no expert on plan design, so the company needs design consultant to help the company out of trouble, and ensure fast construction process. It also takes two monthsto get a construction control consultant, and thus a delay will ensure. If the NBIA Board still refuses to approve or handle the proposed subcontractors, suppliers, construction control consultant, design consultant, there will be a big trouble ahead.

ITD said that even the main terminal is done, it will be able to carry 30 million passengers since the number of passenger modules is cut from 9 bays to 7 bays to save money, and the number of passengers in 2005 will be 40 million passengers, so an expansion is needed. If NBIA ask ITD to construct 2 more passenger modules, it is impossible to open the airport for test run on December 5, 2004. If ITD is unable to deliver the main terminal on time (December 5, 2004), ITD will have to pay fine of 28 million baht a day. Initially, the number of passenger modules is supposed to be 11 bays, but it was cut down to 9 bays and later 7 bays.

If NBIA needs to expand by constructing a second terminal, the new terminal will have to able to carry the other 30 million passengers in addition to the initial 30 million passengers. If NBIA need to expand by constructing 2 more passenger bays, it will take several years after 2005 to be done. 2 passenger modules need 6 billion baht to complete.

Minister Pracha has asked Premchai Kannasut (CEO of Italian-Thai Development PCL) to be at MOTC to explain about the news causing severe damage to NBIA.

Nevertheless, NBIA received a letter from MJTA explaining that the company will redesign on the passenger terminal so as to enhance the terminal management and administration, thus enable the main terminal to carry 40 passengers without any further expansion. MJTA will work on the design of the baggage transportation system, IT System, and other things relating to passengers' convenience to ensure that NBIA will be able to carry 40 passengers in 2005 without trouble.

NBIA said NBIA has discussed with JBIC about the construction control consultant and it would take 28 days to get the approval from JBIC. The NBIA main terminal will be 1.6 times larger than all Don Muang terminals combined (Donmuang is now carrying 32 million passengers a year). Therefore, 40 million passengers a year is not a problem, they just need excellent management of immigration counters, custom counters, and the baggage transportation system.

"Suvannabhum Extension" vs. High Speed train - July 10, 2002
Who will get the airport route? Bangkok's second airport has for decades caused a feeding frenzy--everyone wants a piece of the action. The latest is the tussle over who will handle the rail route to the airport--the Skytrain company or SRT.
BTSC Suvannabhum Extension vs. SRT High Speed Train to NBIA - Governor Samak says BMA is not a slave of OCMLT so BMA has the right to make its own decision - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi - Matichon, July 9, 2002
[This article was prompted by OCMLT refusing to approve the Skytrain extension to NBIA via Onnut. It also has implications for the Railway tunnel to the new airport.]

SRT Planning to Construct Rail Link to Suvannabhum Airport
Thaipost, December 11, 2001

Somsak pushing MRTA to build skytrain to Nong Ngoo Hao Airport
MRTA Director says MRTA is in a better position than SRT due to its depot and subway construction
Summarized and translated by Wisarut Bholsithi - Dailynews, November 16, 2001

Minister Somsak Thepsuthin (Office of PM) has met with Mr. Surachai Phisitwanit (the Head of MRTA Board of Directors) concerning the mass transit link with NBIA. Initially, SRT, OCMLT, and MRTA were planning mass transit links. However, the recession delayed their implementation. There is a discussion over whether to let SRT handle this project or let MRTA take charge. Minister Somsak asks MRTA to make a feasible study concerning details of the construction of the mass transit link from the Rama IX Depot to NBIA along the Eastern Railway line with a total distance of 30 km.

Putting the line along the railway will save money in expropriation, Mr. Praphat Jongsa-nguan (MRTA Director) said. MRTA has the potential to handle this task since it is constructing the blue line subway so MRTA has its own depot and maintenance center. Only a new mass transit line to NBIA need be built. SRT is not in a very good position at all since it would need to make new investments on rail systems and a maintenance center.

It is up to government policy to decide which office should handle this project since the initial phase of NBIA is (supposed) to be done by 2004. The only way to ensure that the mass transit link will be done within that time period is to construct a skytrain along the Eastern Railway line and use the piling of the failed Hopewell Project along the eastern railway line to realize the link.

Commentary by Wisarut Bholsithi: It is a good idea to let MRTA handle this mass transit link to NBIA. After Premier Thaksin made the decision to demolish the Hopewell piles, he got lots of arguments against his decision, so he decided to change his mind by proposing that SRT revive the project from Donmuang to Bangsue (with a total distance of 15 km.), but with a budget of not more than 10 billion baht. Premier Thaksin could start such a mass transit project to NBIA and let MRTA handle the project.

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