Bangkok Subway News January-March 2004

(Photo: MRTA route map with their own notations in color.)

MRTA sends a route update - March 27, 2004
Phansopa Chatchawal noted that the MRTA info contrasts with the info on the OTP site, so he contacted MRTA: I sent an email to MRTA (Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand)... making an inquiry with regards to the changes in the subway routes. There have been a little confusion with regards to the extended route from Bang Sue to Bang Yai and from Bang Wa to Bang Khae. Some new sources have been reporting that the Blue Line will run to Bang Yai while some says the Purple Line would. Moreover, in many reports, it sounds as if both the Blue and the Purple Line will go to Bang Yai and these contradicting news cause some confusion on my part lately. Thankfully, the MRTA Public Relations Officer gave me a reply... And he/she has enclosed a map which might be useful to you too. At this point, I think the routes are more or less finalised and I am glad so.

Poll on the new version of subway lines - translated and summarized from Transportation Journal, March 15-21, 2004
MRTA has hired Rajabhat Suan Dusit to conduct a poll on the new version of MRTA Subway project from 3816 Bangkokians in BMA area and vicinity. The results show that:
1) The mean of transportation
63.73% Use the bus as well as other mass transit services available
25.36% Drive their private cars
2) 84.75% Said "MRTA must continue the construction of the new lines and extensions!"
[Commentary: This has made those transportation experts (except ones who graduated from Japan) who want to halt the MRTA Subway projects to completely change their minds.]
3) Those who want MRTA extensions and new lines said the following lines must be done and finished after the 20-km Blue line has become a reality:
39.20% Orange Line (Bang Kapi - Thai Cultural Center - Victory Monument - Sam Sen - Bang Bumru)
38.73% Purple Line (Bang Yai - Phra Nanklao - Bang Pho - Bang Lamphu - Wongwian Yai - Ratboorana)
21.45% Blue Ring (Hua Lamphong - Tha Phra Bangsue)
Even after the new lines and extensions have become a reality according to 6-year plan, many Bangkokians are still unsatisfied--they want even more lines and extensions. The following are the list of extensions Bangkokians want:
1) Orange Line Extensions:
1.1) Bang Kapi - Minburi via Sukhaphiban 3 Road [this for those who live in eastern Bangkok suburbs of Saphan Soong and Minburi]
1.2) Bang Bumru - Bang Khae [this for those who live in suburb areas of Thonburi (Talingchan, Bang Khae, Phutthamonthon Sai]
2) those who suffer from private and BMTA buses, want the following extensions to allow them to not ride the busses anymore--even Euro 2 air-conditioned buses cannot satisfy these people]
2) Purple Line Extensions:
2.1) Ratboorana - Phra Padaeng [this for those who live in the Phra Padaeng area]
2.2) Branch line from Dao Khanong to Machachai via Rama 2 Highway. [this for those who live in Thonburi and suffer from BMTA buses, private buses and to a lesser extent, the Mae Klong Railway]
3) Blue line Extensions:
3.1) Tha Phra - Bang Khae [This for those who use Phetkasem road daily]
3.2) Bangsue - Bang Buathong
3.3) Bangsue - Rangsit via Northern Railway [this for those who live in the Northern suburbs and feel skepticism about the SRT to handle the Hopewell revival project]
4) 38.38% want Skytrain extension in mixed form (elevated-underground)--more than other people who want either all elevated sections or all subway sections.
5) 74.40% said MRTA must pay the former land owners at market prices for land compensation.
The results will be delivered to MRTA and sent to the cabinet so that they will learn about the people's opinions.
Commentary: These opinions imply that the government must complete the former Blue line with Extension to Bang Yai suburbs (Bang - Yai - Phra Nanklao - Bangsue - Huay Kwang - Hua Lamphong - Wang Boorapha - Tha Phra - Bangkhae) first before adding the Ring line (Bangsue - Bang Pho - Bang Plad - Tha Phra) even though the Ring line is necessary.
These poll results also show the extent of trauma due to maltreatment from BMTA buses as well as private buses on the Thonburi side of Bangkok.

Subway extension news - translated and summarized from Prachachart Thurakij, March 15-17, 2004
Those who live in Bang Yai-Bangbuathong-Ratthathibet have hit the jackpot since the government has approved the Northern extension from Bangsue to Bang Yai with the total 13 stations (7 stations from Bangsue - Phra Nanklao are already known) since this line is much easier to handle than other lines due to the fact that all is elevated. Bangsue-Tha Phra Bangkha will follow this line and then the Orange line will follow the Blue line.
MRTA will hire PB to handle the design so as to call a new bid in late 2004 to start the project in early 2005 and open the line in late 2008. The southern extension of the blue line will follow in late 2005 and the orange line will be started in early 2006.
MRTA is just waiting for the cabinet resolution to make an official start on the project. MRTA needs 376 million for the detailed survey on the expropriated areas for all three lines before issuing the Royal Decree to expropriate the land in May.
For the Purple line, the budget is 94.585 billion baht - 4.491 billion for expropriation, 61.703 billion for construction, 26.608 billion for rolling stocks and services, and 1.783 billion for design.
After readjustment, the construction cost will be 20-30 billion baht (for the 1st section with 100% public investment) and private sector investment to run the services.
For this section, the expropriated land will only be the stairs for the areas with narrow spaces and curves. The 6 additional stations from Phra Nanaklao to Bang Yai via Rattanathibet Road are
1) Sai Mah, 2) Tha It, 3) Ratchapruek Road (Bang Buathong?), 4) Bang Phai, 5) Tahankarn Village, 6) Bang Yai
Bang Yai needs more land for both park and ride as well as a sub maintenance center.
The mass transit funds and the capitalization in the stock markets will be the source of income for this project. However, MRTA is negotiating with BMCL about the nationalization process.
Real estate companies such as Buathongg Property Co.Ltd., Wangthogn Group PCL, NC Housing said they are waiting for the line to become a reality to come up with the new projects at Bangyai and Bang Buathong.

Subway extension news!
Subway extension from Hua Lamphong-Bang Khae starting in 2005 - translated and summarized from Dailynews, February 27, 2004
MRTA Governor said MRTA will start construction of the followign two extensions in 2005:
1) January - June 2005: Southern Extension (Hua Lamphong - Tha Phra - Bang Khae - 14.1 km) 44 billion baht construction budget
2) July - December 2005: Northern Extension (Bangsue - Phra Nanklao - Bang Yai- 19.1 km) 37.201 billion baht construction budget
It will take 3 years and 6 months to finish the extensions.
In the part of the subway line there have been several drills for bombs, arson, chemical leakage, and Subway hijack--with cooperation from MEA, MWA, BMA, and Metropolitan Police Office--with very satisfying results. Passengers can be removed from the stations in six minutes.
As for routine crime, BMCL and MRTA has set up security guards to have the authority to arrest suspects and have also installed CCTV cameras in blind spot areas. However, further security measures are needed. Such as a plan to install poison gas detectors. There will be toxic gas drill before the opening date of April 13. The ticket fee will be collected on May Day 2004 at 12-32 baht.

Subway to Bang Yai will be called for a bid in early 2005 - translated and summarized from Thairath, February 27, 2004
Governor Praphat said MRTA received three propjects to handle:
Blue line extension - Bang Sue - Bang Yai and Hua Lamphong - Bang Khae of 65 billion baht
Orange line - Bang Kapi - Bang Bumru 73 billion baht
Purple line - Bang Yai - Rat Boorana 94 billion baht
Cabinet approval will grant the authority for MRTA to do land exappropration to create the gates--either force the local peple to move to other places or return the land to land owners in the same way as the shops around Chatuchak Weekend Market (Kamphanegphet Road). There will be a single consultant to monitor each line in all process such as consruction, systems and the service management instead of the separate consutants for each contract.
Governor Praphat said he allows more contractors, not just Ch. Karnchang, Italaian Thai Development, and Japanese contractors to handle such massive projects. The new contractor bidding will have to meet the criteria of techniques, price, and constructon time. The consultants of MRTA said they would like to see local Thai contractors to handle this job. The new contract will be written in Thai--only technical terms will need to use English terms along with the transliterated version. The Southern Extension from Hua Lamphong to Bangkhae and Northern Extension from Bagsue to Bang Yai will be called first in 2005 (first half for Soutehrn Extension and second half for Northern Extension). The Orange Line and the Purple Line will be started in 2006.

What happened to the subway depot development plans? - February 13, 2004
Somehow we missed posting these articles below that explained the end to MRTA plans (they are from last August). Previously had the only English-language mention of the attempts to develop expropriated MRTA land for commercial use. It was extensively covered in the Thai-language press.
This issue first came up in 2001 when MRTA (the subway company), attempted to develop some of the land they expropriated to be a shopping center and residents complained that this would be prohibited by the Constitution. The constitutional ban is based on the earlier scandal involving the Central Lat Prao site (See Was Central Lat Prao really built on a garbage dump?).
From the article below it seems the focus turned to lobbying the government to change the zoning first, but them MRTA would still of had to confront former owners to settle the issue (perhaps by giving them more compensation).
MRTA Development Plan Folded - BMA refuses readjust zoning - translated and summarized from Prachachart Thurakij, August 21-24, 2003
BMA and City Planning Dept. refused to readjust the color of the 691-rai MRTA Depot and Maintenance Area from Blue (Bureaucrat Office) to Red (Commercial Area) even though MRTA has tried to lobby hard to make such a change. BMA warned MRTA that if BMA changes the color from blue to red, MRTA must confront the former landowners who had surrendered their land plots for the depot.
Many people said the reason why BMA refused to fulfill the request from MRTA is due to MRTA's strong connection with CH. Karnchang. Therefore, Premier Thaksin might have ordered BMA not to change the color of the area to allow commercial development to starve Ch. Karnchang and force a merger with the Skytrain.
Even if those who surrendered their land to MRTA agree to allow commercial development on MRTA land, the development might not be worthy as they expected since SRT is going to develop the land around Makkasan Station with government support [as an airport rail depot]. By the time the MRTA plan would be approved, their might be no demand at the MRTA depot location. Therefore, MRTA could only be allowed to construct a park and stadium since they are considered a public good. Another usage might be a new SRT depot.

"Uea Arthorn Subway" by Lom PlianThit - translated and summarized from Thairath, February 3, 2004
Minister Suriya is planning to buy back the subway, Skytrain and expressways to create a nationwide transportation network and the government will invest 400 billion baht more instead of granting a concession as the previous government did. I agree with him in principle to reduce the public burden and stimulate the economic through the construction without profit seeking.
The first part of the nationalization process is to purchase the BMCL subway for 18 billion baht. The subway belongs to Ch. Karnchang PCL. The purchase of BTSC is the second step but the government will have to wait until BTSC has restructured the 32.4 billion baht debt before making any further negotiation. So far, the creditors have written off 6 billion baht interest and 2.4 billion baht principle, transforming debts into equity by 16 billion baht. The other 14 billion baht debts will be paid back in 18 years.
The government will have to allocate 40-50 billion baht to purchase both projects. After that, they will be able to integrate the system in physical form or ticket form as the way to relieve traffic jams.
However, I will ask Minister Suriya to come up with an "Uea Athorn Subway" to cut ticket prices to boost passengers from all walks of life.
Would you believe that all eight Seoul subway lines as well as the upcoming the ninth line has the single price for the section within the jurisdiction of Seoul Municipality? Just 700 won (22 baht) while the area outside the Seoul Municipality will be a flat rate of 1000 won (about 31.5 baht). Such a ticket price is very cheap compared with the expensive cost of living.
Therefore, the ticket prices for an integrated mass transit system must be cheap enough to allow all walks of life access into the system--not seeking too much profit as private sectors did. We will allow the maximum price for this integrated mass transit system to be a little bit higher than the air-conditioned buses since the government has invested about half a trillion baht to implement such a project... and to keep air-conditioned buses alive and well. However the ticket prices must be lower than the current rate to encourage more passengers. This will cut down automobile usage and the budget to build more roads and highways.
One thing I would like to complain about to Minister Suriya and Director Praphat is that MRTA has not constructed the tunnel to connect all parts of the intersections such as Silom Station in Saladaeng intersection. The passengers from Chulalongkorn Hospital have to go across the the street to the station gates which are definitely inconvenient. The same thing can be said about Rama 9 Station and Hua Lamphong Station and so on. The connecting tunnels to major department stores such as Central Plaza, Fortune Town, Robinson Silom and so on are missing. It will not be a good deal for passengers to go to the stores by going outside to face smoke and rain.
Commentary: Khun Lom Plian Thit did not tell the whole story. Both companies who are dealing with the Seoul Subway system suffer heavy operating losses (now reaching more than 100 billion baht) even though Korea produces their own subway rolling stock to support the systems as well as for export to Hong Kong, the Philippines, India and so on. This heavy loss has dragged the ninth line project down. Furthermore many people are going to live in the new suburb towns outside Seoul thus the government has to come up with LRTs and new commuter lines (including the new Airport Link to Inchon Airport) to feed the Seoul Subway system.

MRTA contract allows purchase of 25% of BMCL shares - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, January 27, 2004
Minister Suriya is trying to push his plan forward by asking MRTA to immediately purchase 25% of BMCL shares by paying at par since the contract with BMCL allows MRTA to do so. The other 75% will need negotiation with Ch. Karnchang and N-Park to facilitate the system integration.
Commentary: Too much meddling for political revenue will spoil ruin the 6-year plan though.

Land expropriation plan for four new subway stations
The English-language papers gave a general overview of the plan--here are the real numbers and figures translated and summarized from Manager Daily, January 26, 2004.
Since the Southern Extension has to pass through the Rattnakosin Island (in Bangkok and Thonburi side), MOTC will ask landowners to use the areas to construct the four new stations and then MRTA will compensate the landowners by constructing new buildings on top to return to the landowners afterwards. Some compensation payment will be made during the construction period as well--in the same way as MRTA handled Kamphaeng Phet station.
There will be four station areas to be expropriated:
1) Wat Mungkorn (AKA Wat Leng Nei Yee)
2) Wang Boorapha
3) Pakklong Talad (near Phra Ratchawong Police Station)
4) Bangkok Yai (near Wat Chaeng, RTN HQ and before Tha Phra)
The law to be applied is the Land Expropriation Act of BE 2542 while land prices will be readjusted to the 2004 Price.
Wat Mungkorn: land price - 348 million baht and buildings - 58 million baht
Wang Boorapha: land price - 300 million baht and buildings - 105 million baht
Pakklong Talad: land price - 101 million baht and buildings - 28 million baht
Bangkok Yai: land price - 160 million baht and buildings - 101 million baht
It will take eight months to finish land expropriation. MRTA will apply the latest technology available so that the surface opening is not necessary at all as the way to comply with regulations on Rattanakosin Island area. It will takes five year to finish this section (Southern Extension of Blue line through Rattnakosin Island).

Earlier: Plan to cut land costs for subway extension
- Bangkok Post, January 26, 2004
...The Mass Rapid Transit Authority would instead build stations for the extended line under old buildings, which would be demolished, said Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit.
Upon completion of construction, new buildings would be erected at the sites and handed over to the original property owners, Mr Suriya said...
At least four stations would be built _ at Mangkorn temple in Yaowarat district, Wang Burapha, Phra Rajawang Police Station (Pak Klong Talat) and Bangkok Noi, near Tha Phra intersection on the north side of the Chao Phraya...

Earlier: Subway extension plans - translated and summarized from Thairath, January 17, 2004

Notes on the subway system - 'Free' rides by invitation only? - translated and summarized from Siamturakij, January 18-24, 2004
Temperature in the subway station is controlled to 29 Celsius to prevent the people from hanging around for too long thus reducing the chance for crimes as well as juvenile delinquents. The speed of escalators is 45 m/min--faster than the common escalator speed of 30 m/min.
The subway may not be as fast as European counterparts (maximum speed of 110 km/hr for European subway systems and 80 km/hr for Siemens), but it will be fast enough to cruise from Kamphaengphet to Sukhumvit in 5-10 minutes -> up to 70-80 km/hr. The total time for round trip is less than 15 minutes.
Before the concession expires, MRTA will check if the subway rolling stocks need to be restored and modernized to carry more passengers.
The ticket price has been capped at 36 baht according to the contract even though MRTA has allowed price readjustment according to the inflation rate every two years. The first year rate will be 12-32 Baht/trip. [The following indicates that the subway will not really be ready for even a soft opening on April 13. Apparently the 'free' rides will be by invitation only.] If you want to have a free ride from April 13 to May 1, you should send a postcard to the PR Department of MRTA.

The fight to take over the subway - translated and summarized from Thairath and Dailynews, January 21, 2004
MOTC Minister Suriya said he had a preliminary discussion with Mr Plew Triwitsawawet (CEO of Ch. Karnchang PCL) about the plan to buy back the subway concession to facilitate the system integration between Skytrain and subway and buses as well as ticket price controls. After that, MOTC will call a new bid to handle the service. By the end of January, MRTA will come up with a plan to buy back the concession and the planning will be done before August 12, 2004.
If BMCL refuses to sell back to MRTA, the government will readjust transport routes to support its own systems and not support the subway system.
Furthermore, MOTC has asked the Director of the Expressway Authority to change the ticket price scheme to collect according to the distance or open system.
Wisarut reports: It seems to me that the government is trying to meddle on other people's affairs too much. After telling the press about the plan to buy back BMCL, MOTC got a very negative responses which can be seen here.
Therefore the insiders at MOTC have told the Manager correspondent (January, 2004) that the most feasible plan would be:
1) Government has to carry the 11 billion baht burden to refinance the project or cut the interest.
2) The investment paid by the private sector (Ch. Karnchang) must be paid back in cash. Both sections total 20 billion baht.
3) Revenue from the 25-year concession should be transformed into stock for the new company to handle mass transit integration. The company has to be a state enterprise with the government holding at least 51% of stock.
Or this is the best deal--integrate the mass transit system without imposing nationalization of the system. NBMCl still owns the project even after this transformation while BMCL could transfer some of their debts into equity. MRTA would come up with the data for this integration plan.
The price to purchase BMCL would be about 10 billion baht. However, the government will wait until BMCl has come up with their own prices.
However, MOTC will not include BTSC (the Skytrain) into this integration scheme yet until the company has concluded the 40-50 billion baht debt restructure deal. Also the Don Muang Tollway will not be fully merged with the expressway yet since the company has quoted too high a price.
Also: For once the Bangkok Post reports this story (State to buy back subway concession, Bangkok Post, January 21, 2004) and does not seem to omit anything.

Subway extension plans - translated and summarized from Thairath, January 17, 2004
Chaloemsak Rabinwongse (Director of Traffic and Transport System Development Office - Traffic Policy Office) said after the discussion between MRTA and Traffic Policy Office that the planned subway extensions are as follows:
The first phase will follow the lines which MRTA has already finished studying--Blue Line northern extension (Bangsue - Phra Nanaklao), Blue Line southern extension (Hua Lamphong - Tha Phra) and Orange Line (Bang Kapi - Rat Boorana) which will be approved in principle in mid-February 2004.
However, to comply with the 6-year development plan (2004-2009), the following extensions have to be constructed:
1) Bang Yai extension -> Phra Nang Klao - Bang Yai
2) Northern Ring - Bang Wah - Tha Phra Charansanitwongse - Bang Pho (Rama 7 Bridge) - Bangsue
However, the details will have to be discussed since MRTA has a duty to finish the first phase. After getting the second phase approved by the Traffic Committee, the plan will need cabinet approval with the assessment from the ad hoc subcommittee headed by MOTC to handle the assessment of the following matters: procurement, contracting, and financial resources. For the police jurisdiction along subway lines, it is necessary to clarify such things as who handles the Ratchadaphisek Station (Suthisarn Police Station or Huay Kwang Police Station). Otherwise, it will create a lot of trouble.

Australian radio reports on the Bangkok subway - January 17, 2004
Several readers are reporting that Australian radio is claiming that the Bangkok subway is a year behind schedule and will not open until mid-2005. We think someone is confusing earlier news about a delay in Skytrain extension construction to May, 2005 (now the extensions are halted).
The truth is that the subway will begin operating on a limited basis (meaning limited hours and not on the entire route) starting this April 13, 2003. Even if it had been behind schedule, there was a scenario in which the subway would run between at least two stations so it could be declared it began operation as promised. The official opening will be August 12, 2004 (on HM The Queen's Birthday).

Design and build for MRTA extensions - translated and summarized from Bangkok Biznews, January 8, 2004
After reading the plan for 90 km of MRTA Subway extensions from the 6-year masterplan (2004-2009), the MRTA director said MRTA will use the design and build process - increasing the risk cost to the contractors - in addition to the construction and design. This is the process which Hong Kong and Japan have used to construct their MRT systems.
The detailed design for elevated sections (Tha Phra - Bang Khae and Tao Poon - Phra Nangklao - Bang Ya) must be done before asking contractors to handle the project.
The risk analysis will be done by the Engineering Association of Thailand, Architecture Association of Thailand, Construction Industry Association of Thailand, and professors of related fields in universities. These trustworthy auditors will ensure that the prices are right and will not become another controversy.
So far Minister Suriya agrees with the MRTA plan.
The extensions which MRTA will execute are as follows:
1) Northern Extension - Bangsue - Phra Nanklao - Bang Yai - 19.7 km with a price tag of 30 billion baht. If the government supports the plan, this section will be done in three years. This section has to be done first since the elevated section is easy to handle.
2) Hua Lamphong - Tha Phra - Bang Wahr - Bang Khae - 13.8 km with a price tag of 28 billion baht. This section will be an underground from Hua Lamphong to Tha Phra (6.5 km) and the rest (Tha Phra - Bangkhae) is an elevated section.
However, the underground section will be only one floor instead of 3 floors as in the first section to cut the price. Construction with only one underground section will be 10% cheaper than the 3-floor type.
The vending machines will be on the ground floor - same as the elevated station.
The buildings expropriated by MRTA will be used as commercial buildings for the upper floors with gates and vending machines on the first floor in the same way the Hong Kong MRT and Tokyo Subway.
Note: The buildings around Rattankosin Island are very delicate issues. There will be a need to preserve the old structure.

IPO from MRTA for extensions - translated and summarized from Dailynews, January 7, 2004
MRTA is talking about extensions. The discussion at the ministry level will be held in mid-January 2004 At least the first three sections have to be implemented since they have already been studied and designed.
1) 11 km - Northern Extension (Bangsue - Wong Sawang - Phra Nangklao)
2) 10 km - Southern Extension (Hua Lamphong - Tha Phra - Bang Khae)
3) 35 km - Orange Line (Bang Kapi - Thai Cultural Center - Wang Boorapha - Rat Boorana)
All three sections require a total investment of 200 billion baht. The underground section will be design-and-build with the board to define the prices as unit costs. The board will consist of the architects from Siam Architecture Association and engineers from the Thai Engineering Association. The board will calculate the construction costs and risk costs - with suitable profit from the construction. The board will submit the plan to the Traffic Committee and then deliver it the cabinet to get approval so it will be done in 6 years. MRTA will get the funds from the Stock Market through an IPO.
The Smart card system for system integration will be installed in all three sections as the way to boost the number from the passengers from 200,000 to 1,000,000 a day with a 20 baht/trip for joint ticket with the Skytrain. The current price for BTS Skytrain + BMTA bus will be 40-50 baht/trip--too much since it would be translated into 80-100 baht/trip if directly added to the subway.

More on the Royal subway ride - January 11, 2004
Wisarut reports: I also went to see Princess Sirindhorn Opening Phu Fah on 5:50pm of Sunday Jan 11. However, Security Guards in black uniforms would not allow me to take a picture of Princess Sirindhorn for security reasons and privacy.
The news from Khom Chad Luek (Jan 11, 2004) said that Princess Sirindhorn drove the subway car from Chatuchak Station to Kamphaengphet Station by herself to open Phu Fah Shop. In the return trip, Princess Sirindhorn drove the subway car from Kamphaengphet to Sukhumvit by herself before riding Skytrain back to Sra Pathum Palace.
The products at Phu Fah Shop are red t-shirts with a batch of Monkey and Chinese characters drawn by Princess Sirindhorn (350 baht each, 50,000 shirts) and coffee mugs with Chinese characters (Siw - Longevity) for Chinese new year. There are also the products from the Royal Project for Thai teens as well as food and beverages from Chitladda Palace sold in Phu Fah Shop to meet the demands of teens (Thai or foreigners).
Phu Fah shop is in Kamphaengphet Station area. Electric and water bills will be paid by revenue from renting around Kamphaengphet Station. It will be open from 10am to 6pm. Revenue will go to the Children in Remote Area Funds.
When Princess Sirindhorn rode the Skytrain from Siam to Mochit, she rode along with people even though she had to be squeezed inside the Skytrain. The merchants and customers at Chauchak Weekend market said with delight that they have never thought that they will have a chance to see Princess Sirindhorn.

Children's Day in the subway - January 10, 2004
Wisarut reports: I have been to Phra Ram 9 Station [AKA Rama 9 Station] and went inside the subway train--the first set of Subway trains transported by air. This one will be used for HRH Princess Sirindhorn's visit on Sunday, January 11. So far, the TVM machines and turnstiles are not installed yet. It will take two more months. Now, the subway has three pricings:
1) Ordinary - full rate
2) Children (under 12) and Senior Citizens (65+) - half price
3) Students (13-23) - probably 2/3 the price
When I went down at the first level, it was pretty humid and warmer than the outside. On the second floor, the air-conditioning was working. Lots of children, their parents and even grandparents came to see and sit inside the subway cars. However, MRTA and BMCL officers said that those who wear high heel shoes and those children with small feet better beware the the step before going inside the subway car since there is a small gap (about 1.5-2 inches) between the door and the subway gate.
The stairs for Hua Lamphong station are apparently smaller than the stairs of Phra Ram 9 Station due to the space constraints. However, MRTA managed to build a direct connection between Hua Lamphong Railway Station and Hua Lamphong Subway station. If you do not look carefully, you will not be able to detect the connection since the connection looks like the extra wing of Subway station. So far, I can only see the station name signs, but map and other signs are not installed yet.

Royal subway rides/subway testing/free rides & promotions - translated and summarized from Matichon, January 8, 2004
Princess Sirindhorn is to ride the subway to Chatuchak Weekend Market on Sunday Afternoon (January 11) at 4:30pm Phu Fah Shop - Chatuchak Branch is in the MRTA area of Kamphaengphet Station.
The royal route will be:
1) Riding Skytrain from Siam Station to Mochit Station
2) Opening Phu Fah Shop
3) Riding Subway from Kamphaengphet Station to Sukhumvit Station
4) Riding Skytrain from Asok Station to Siam Station to go back to
Sra Pathum Palace.
Minister Suriya said MRTA and MOTC feel very appreciative that Princess Siridhorn has a very strong interest in the MRTA Subway system - a very auspicious sign indeed! MRTA has already finished testing the route from Bangsue to Ratchadaphisek station and all sections will be tested by the middle of January, but the section to Asok must have been finished testing before the Royal Visit.
Furthermore, Queen of the Netherlands will come to visit MRTA on January 21 and will ride the Subway from Sukhumvit Station to Queen Sirikit National Convention Center.
Therefore, the system must be fully functional and security must be tightened to the highest level due to these Royal Visits. They may need Royal Guard Units to handle the security even though MRTA and BMCL have asked security guards to tighten the security system to the maximum level.
Free rides will be from 7am to 9pm from Songkran Day to May Day 2004 (April 13-May 1, 2004). After that, the passengers have to pay 12-32 baht and the normal schedule (5am to midnight) will be started. The limited service hours will cut energy bills even though it means less passengers. The price will be readjusted according to the inflation rate--so far the maximum price will still be within 36 baht.
On January 20, MRTA will call a meeting with department stores along the subway line to come up with a promotion plan such as buying 1000 Baht and then get a free ticket.

Subway test run - translated and summarized from Matichon, Jan 9, 2004
[The Bangkok Post also has an article about this, but omits info about BMCL's financial condition and timing of the IPO.]
Transport Minister Suriya feels very satisfied after making a test run of subway rolling stock from Kamphaengphet to Sukhumvit -> very smooth and quiet despite a slight jerking at the start and stop. Minister Suriya was at the controls for a while before letting Mr Wichet (Deputy Minister Wichet Kasemthongsri) take over before reaching Sukhumvit. Minister Suriya also asks BMCL and MRTA to keep security at the maximum level and ensured the corespondents that MRTA will be open on Songkran day 2004.
For the free rides, MRTA will take 10,000 guests for free rides from April 13 - May 1. After that, the first year rate will be applied.
BMCL is going to offer an IPO by starting the process in February 2004 and IPO will be offered around mid-July or early August 2004. The IPO will be before cutting down debts, buying the second set of rolling stocks or extensions. So far, the registered capital is 7 billion baht and the debts are 12 billion baht. Creditors have cut interest rate to MLR -1% to MLR -0.75 % from the current 7.5-7.8% which helps BMCL since 1% of interest rate is 120 million baht. Creditors have also granted a 1 billion baht loan to keep BMCL afloat.
Now the subway will have a test period which will last 90 days according to standard procedure starting from March 2004. After an independent engineer finishes testing, the service will be fully started on Mother's Day 2004 (August 12, 2004).

MRTA calling a bid for development of 18 subway stations--expecting 200 million baht a year revenue - translated and summarized from Matichon Daily, December 31, 2003
MRTA is going to draft a TOR to invite the private sector to develop 18 stations. Development is divided into three types: new park and ride facilities, advertising, and commercial leases. Bidding must be done before Mother Day's 2004 (official opening date). Each station will have different price tags. Silom and Chatuchak will have higher price tags than Bangsue.
MRTA expects to reap 100-200 million baht revenue a year from station development with the majority to come from the commercial leases.

Above: The subway exit at Silom and Rama IV Roads. An additional 80-meter walkway to the Saladaeng Skytrain Station is scheduled to be constructed soon.

Subway/Skytrain link at Saladaeng - Delivering the rest of the subway cars - translated and summarized from Dailynews, December 16, 2003
Bidding for the connection
MRTA Director said BKCT (contractor for Hua Lamphong - Huay Kwang section) has called a bid for the construction of the connection to from the subway to the Saladaeng Skytrain station. So far the lowest bidding is 60 million baht. The settlement will come up by the end of 2003. After that, MRTA will send the result to BMA and BTSC to get construction approval. At first, MRTA will pay for the construction and then BMA and BTSC have to pay half.
80 meter walkway
The connecting via duct will start from the gate in front of Dusit Thani Hotel. It will be 80 meters long. There will be a need to clear up the infrastructure in the way before placing the pillars. However, the construction can be start in early January, 2004 to be done before August 12, 2004.
Rest of the rolling stock
The 2nd and 3rd set of rolling stock are going to reach (reached) Laem Chabang Port on December 19, 2003 and all 19 sets will reach Thailand by the end of April 2004.
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