Bangkok Subway News – November-December 2003

MRTA testing subway rolling stock and finding no problems - translated and summarized from Dailynews, November 26, 2003
Dr. Ockert Van Zyl (the CEO of Siemens Thailand Co.Ltd.) said Siemens has produced and supplied 84% of the electronic instruments for the subway rolling stock and 91% of electric instruments for the stations. So far, Siemens (Thailand) has delivered 59% of the electronic instruments to MRTA for testing subway cars.
Dr. Ockert said after testing the first delivery of subway rolling stock at the maximum speed (80 km/hr), the company found no problems at all. The next four sets will reach Laem Chabang in this December and all 19 sets will reach MRTA depot by March 2004.
On December 5, 2003, Minister Suriya and his subordinates from MOTC are going to visit MRTA depot to see a test run. Test runs will be held until Songkran Day of 2004 - the day for partial opening of the subway.

Photos of the Hualampong subway station - November 20, 2003
Pascal reports: Please go to my website and there you’ll find a link to Bangkok Subway (station photos)... which I took yesterday.
Right: The names are to pay respect to the people who have contributed to the planning, construction and finalization of the first subway line. Hualamphong Subway Station also features a small museum about Thai train history. The museum is near the place where I took the photo of the names.


How the subway cars were transported - November 15, 2003
Patrick Dick of The Freight Co, Ltd. has provided an explanation of all planning that went in to transporting the Bangkok subway cars by air to Thailand. (Various photos of the subway cars being delivered are here.)

1. What are the critical points for transportation

Transporting trains (rolling stock) requires a very specialized know-how that. Subways and Mass Rapid trains are big in size but not extremely heavy. On average, a single subway wagon (coach) is just more than 20 meters long, slightly over 3 meters wide and almost 4 meters high. The weight is only roughly between 34 to 40 tons depending whether it is the front or end of a subway, which contains the driver's cabin and an engine. The wagons or coaches between the front and end wagons are without engine and therefore are not as heavy as the ones with engine. Real train (diesel) locomotive in comparison weight easily around 100 tons. Depending on how the trains are built it can happen that it will not be allowed to lift them by cranes. Because they are so big, they are generally transported and shipped unpacked and special care is needed to protect them from scratches, dents, bruises, etc. which may occur especially during handling at the port, airport or upon loading in the factory or unloading at final destination.

When shipping subway wagons or similar rolling stock by sea the first idea is normally to ship them on break bulk vessels. This has the disadvantage that the handling as not always the best and safest and that ship owners are tempted to load the trains on deck and not under deck (again mostly because of the big size). However, they can also be shipped on container vessels but the expert needs to know how and with which ship type, etc.

In the case of sending such a rolling stock by air there are not so many choices. The primary aircraft type to use for such a cargo is the Antonov AN124. Another aircraft would be the AN124's bigger brother the AN225 but there is worldwide only one such aircraft in operation.

The AN124 is an ingenious and self-sustainable aircraft. It can uplift up to 150 tons and the volume of the cargo hold is approx. 1,000 cubic meters or close to the equivalent of 30x20' containers. The airplane has a front and an aft cargo door. Both boast a ramp for easy loading (roll on/roll off) of heavy cargo. The airplane has also onboard loading cranes with max. lifting capacity of 40 tons.

In the case of loading a rolling stock into the AN124 the choice is using the front nose door and front door ramp for loading and unloading. Here start the first difficulties that need to be taken into consideration and into the planning. The AN124's overall length is 70 meters. The ramp system is can quickly add another 10-15 meters depending on the ramp design and the angle at which the ramp is laid out. When loading/unloading such a rolling stock obviously a special trailer is needed as well. In our case the trailer inclusive of prime mover and draw bar had a combined overall length of 31.5 meters. Finally when operating this trailer for loading or unloading we have to include also operating space of at least 10-15 meters. Thus altogether we have to calculate a total operating space needed of 120-140 meters. Not many airports and cargo terminals are happy to free this kind of space because it is the equivalent of about 4 parked airplanes.

The next thing that needs to be considered is that when the subway will be rolled into the AN124 the road trailer should be fitted on the trailer bed also with rails and should be able to connect to the aircraft's ramp system. Special sliding devices must be built for the purpose of loading and unloading. Detailed planning is needed for the loading place and the unloading place as the road trailer is most likely not the same at the loading place and the unloading place. Special lashing and securing has to be prepared by the engineers. Engineers need to calculate shock impacts and their calculations will be considered when preparing special lashing and securing systems.

2. Precedents

The Freight CO Ltd previously handled the very first mass rapid transit system that was imported to Thailand. This system, an elevated mass rapid transit system known as the "Skytrain" was also supplied by Siemens of Germany. The cargo originated from all over the world. Trains were supplied from Siemens' factory in Austria (same as for the subway project). Rails came from Germany. Ticketing machines from the U.S.A., fully assembled escalators from Germany and China, etc. The total volume of this project was approx. 60,000 frt. The Freight CO LTD was responsible together with Fracht AG of Germany for the total freight and logistics concept of this project. In Thailand we also provided the warehouse space and our warehouse management software for the stock control of this project. We delivered just in time to the jobsite. Jobsite was obviously all over the city of Bangkok, a city of approx. 10 million people. We had to deliver / lift most of the cargo more then 10 meters high onto the various stations. Due to traffic restrictions we were only allowed to deliver at nighttime, mostly after midnight. The Freight CO LTD also took care of traffic management and police escort for special cargo such as the trains, the long rails, escalators, etc. Besides transporting the sensitive trains we had to take special care while handling the unpacked, fully assembled escalators fitted with glass panels on both sides. Since starting with the Skytrain project, The Freight CO LTD has transported and lifted more then 100 escalators for the Skytrain Project, commercial high-rise buildings in Bangkok and the provincial airport in Pitsanulok.

3. Planning

The first inquiry for the subway air charter project was received in December 2002. Thereafter, negotiations were renewed in July 2003. Serious planning started relatively late, end of August 2003. From that point and time The Freight CO Ltd's management was non-stop involved in planning, meetings, preparations, etc. Many meetings had to be conducted with Thai government offices such as the Royal Thai Airforce, Airports of Thailand (Airports Authority), Thai Airports Ground Services, Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand, Bangkok Metro CO LTD and our client. Special transportation equipment was already developed by our German partner, Messrs. Fracht AG of Nuremberg who specializes in handling rolling stock. Road surveys and negotiations with various parties had to be conducted. Since the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand planned to hold a VIP reception and to invite the press (T.V. and newspapers) we on the arrival of the last of the 3 air charters, we had to plan the entire operation "military-style". Upon arrival and unloading from airplane of subway coach 1 and 2, we covered the wagons immediately with 300 square meter large covers to avoid the press of making a press release prior to the VIP reception. During the VIP reception The Freight CO LTD was largely requested by the client to organize and coordinate matters in and around the airplane. We had to work under enormous pressure because at the same time, Thailand's government was preparing for the APEC (Asia Pacific Economy Corporation) that was attended by all Asia Pacific countries leaders including U.S. President George Bush. Security measurements were at its highest level ever for Thailand and we had to comply with all requests for security,
scheduling, etc.

The entire operation and VIP reception was a huge success. We delivered everything on time and as planned. Upon finishing the VIP reception on October 15th, the entire subway train (3 wagons) was delivered to the client 's train depot during the nighttime.

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