Subway test runs - translated and summarized from Thairath, April 12, 2004, Dailynews, April 12, 2004, and Bangkok Biznew, April 12, 2004
MRTA Governor said Minister Suriya will come to open the subway system for a test run at 9am on Songkran Day in Thai Cultural Center Station along with representatives from MRTA and BMCL. [There will be a giant mural unveiled.]
The test run period from 10am to 2pm from April 13 to 18 will be arranged as follows:
Odd days (April 13, 15, 17): 9 stations open: Hua Lamphong, Kong Toei, Queen Sirikit, Phetburi, Thai Cultural Center, Sutthisarn, Lad Phrao, Chatuchak Park, and Bangsue.
Even days (April 14, 16, 18): 10 stations open: Hua Lamphong, Kong Toei, Sukhumvit, Phra Ram 9, Huay Kwang, Ratchadaphisek, Lad Phrao, Phaholyothin, Kamphaengphet and Bangsue.
Those who receive the free tickets must come to the station at the time dictated by the tickets even. They can take a free ride and then come out of the station only once.
The free rider can hang around the subway stations until 2pm. The ticket will be invalid after coming out of the stations. Furthermore, free riders must strictly follow the instruction of the BMCL-MRTA officers--no food and drink allowed. No pets allowed except guide dogs for the blind. No flammable items or suitcases allowed. Further details on the May free rides will be reported later on.
Since subway system is very new, MRTA has to limit the number of free rides to 300,000 and they have to ensure a fair ride to all Bangkokians. MRTA and BMCL officers work hard to handle the security.
The ticket system will use the smart card system which allow passengers to enter into the system without pushing the ticket into the ticket readers at all. Female passengers can even keep their tickets inside their bag and just allow zip through the gate and that's all [like the subway system in Hong Kong].
Furthermore, MRTA will have regular and adequate elevators for the handicapped and escalators in all gates.
MRTA is the 7th subway system in Asia - 15-30 m deep from the ground level (4-10 floor building). The stations are 18-25 m wide and 150-200 m long with 2 floor, 3 floor and 4th floor structures according to the condition of the land. The station design is simple, clear, with soft tones, and has no blindspots, no garbage bins or benches so that terrorists will not be able to hide nerve gas to choke the passengers.
Even though this subway line has not reached suburbs yet since the route is still within the central business district, it better than having no mass transit system at all. At least, this will cut some traffic for a better quality of life.
Tickets can be bought either from vending machines which sell smart tokens or stored-value Smart cards. Ticket price will be 14-36 baht (14 + 2 * No. of Station) even though the first year rate will be 12-34 baht. Children below 12 and those over 65 will be discounted by a half. There are two Park and Ride facilities--Lad Phrao (2200 cars) and Thai Cultural Center (200 cars).
Passengers will place tokens or smart cards into the readers and then the gate will open and the passengers will go down to platforms with screen doors. The inbound and outbound rails are at the same level except Sam Yan, Silom and Lumphinee which have to be 4 floors due to the space constraints.
Screen doors will cut energy bills and make a safe ride since it will open only after the subway parks at the correct position. We can see only lights along the tunnels and lights inside the subway cars. It take 30 minutes to ride from Hua Lamphong to Bangsue and the rush hour interval will be 2-4 minutes. The full service hours will be from 5am to midnight.
The security forces inside Subway have been authorized to arrest, check the passengers, and carry weapons at every station. There are also local police forces who take a look around the subway stations as well. Every station has cameras to monitor every spot inside the station.
The gates and open sections above ground are 1.5 meters high from the ground to prevent flooding. There will be a collecting pool to trap the water before it enters the station and the pumps to push the water out. Stations and subway cars will use nonflammable materials. Even the flammable parts will not emit poisonous fumes. There will be an automatic fire extinguisher to quell the fire in 45 minutes and the evacuation will be done in 6 minutes according to international standard.
Wisarut's free ride - April 13, 2004
Wisarut received his free subway tickets. Here's how he will use them: I just received two tickets from BMCL. Both tickets said you can go to Subway stations on April 18, 2004 (Sunday) and I must come to Phaholyothin Station on time (10am-11am). Otherwise, you will be disqualified.
I guess that those journalists as well as politicians will make the first test run at 10am on April 13, 2004 at Thai Cultural Center Station while those lucky few will have the first ride at Chatuchak, Hua Lamphong,Hua Lamphong, Kong Toei, Queen Sirikit, Phetburi, Sutthisarn, Lad Phrao, Chatuchak Park, and Bangsue.
However, the common men like me will have to wait until Sunday April 18 to have a free ride (at Hua Lamphong, Kong Toei, Sukhumvit, Phra Ram 9, Huay Kwang, Ratchadaphisek, Lad Phrao, Phaholyothin, Kamphaengphet and Bangsue).
According to my plan, I will go to either Kamphaenphet or Phaholyothin even though I found that I need go to the right gate in addition to the right station. However, I will get out at Bagsue Station at around 2pm. I hope that I will be able to take a photo even though photo restrictions will be applied inside the subway stations to prevent terrorists to get information about the stations so they can plant a bomb.
MRTA Subway - Impoving our mass transit - by Dr. Samart Ratpolasit, April 12, 2004
The grand engineering task which they said was impossible due to soft clay and the underground water table has become a reality after the test run on April 13, 2004--the MRTA Subway.
Even though MRTA subway is not at very first subway system in the world or even Asean, the technology is definitely second to none.
The first subway system in the world opened on Jan 10, 1863 in London. There were hundreds of thousands waiting in line along subway stations but only 40,000 passengers had a first ride. It took 33 years for Britain to build the first subway line--after a proposal in 1830.
The first Asian subway system opened in Tokyo on December 30, 1927. The first line was 2.2 km long connecting Ueno and Asakusa. The designers of Mitsukoshi Department Store had the advertisement that it was "The only subway line in the Oriental World." Mitsukoshi department store has contributed to TRTA in such an extent that TRTA has used the name of this department store as the name of Tokyo subway station that was close to the store.
This ad had effectively drew ten thousands to those who live in Tokyo to line up at the subway station to have the first ride even before the opening at 6am on December 30, 1927.
This Tokyo subway line carried 70,000 passengers on new year's eve, 1928. Now the Tokyo subway system has grown into a 300-km giant. Only London and New York City subway systems are more complex network that Tokyo system. The first subway line in Asean was Singapore's opened in 1987.
It took 6 years to make the Bangkok system a reality. Each drill that dug subway tunnel had the drilling rate of 10 m/day/set. There were very few traffic interruptions during the construction which is very good. Those who came to see subway construction said Thai engineers could drill to make subway tunnels and construct stations to become an underground city.
No need to worry about floods since the gates have been constructed 2.5m higher from Thai standard sea level at Kho Lak. Thus, flooding would be a serious problem after the flood has reached 3.5 m level. The subway cars will use nonflammable materials. Even the flammable parts will not emit poisonous fumes. There will be automatic fire extinguishers to quell the fire in 45 minutes and the evacuation will be done in 6 minutes according to international standard.
Every subway station is equipped with elevators and ramps for the disabled which many other systems in other countries still have not installed yet. It is up to the government to make a new BMTA air-conditioned bus to have the access for the handicapped in every buses so they can ride the bus to the subway stations.
It is a fair deal to pay the ticket at 14-36 baht after August 12 in exchange for this comfort. Even though there is a park and ride facility at Lad Phrao and Thai Cultural Center, there are not many people to use such facility since the line does not extend close to the suburbs. Only massive expansion will solve this problem. I hope that the government can do it.
The nationalization plan of
BMCL and BTSC is good for the country
- translated and summarized from Siamturakij,
April 4-11, 2004
1) Suan Chatuchak - very spacious - even though Thai Cultural Center Station is the spaciest of all. I met a middle age men who said he has worked for ITD as workers to construct both Skytrain and Subway. I suggested him to tell the stories to his children and and ask his children to write down the tales as the way to keep the stories about the construction of both systems alive.
2) Sukhuimvit - pretty small station... needs a 4th gate at the building opposite Soi Cowboy [Emporium side] after the construction of the derelict building there becomes a reality.
3) Queen Sirikit - pretty big, but no traditional Thai decoration yet. The air-condition at the ticket purchasing level looks salty and the air condition at the platform level has chemical odor. The officers said they will make a weekly cleaning of the air-condition and may have to perfume the air-condition as monthly basis.
4) Klong Toei - pretty small, but tolerable
5) Lumphinee - an uncle who lives in Bon Kai complained that this station has too few gates. He has either to pay 14 baht to ride subway to Silom for the morning or evening exercise at Lumphinee Park or has to walk through the smoking Rama 4 Road to enter into Gate 2 at Witthayu Intersection to go across the street.
6) Silom Station - needs two new gates near Surawongse Intersection and Chulalongkonr Hospital. The escalators are very steep. The escalators at Lumphineee station are very steep as well! if you go in the wrong direction at Silom and Lumphinee (either head to Bangsue even though you want to go to Hua Lamphong or vice versa), you will be exhausted from either climbing up or down the stairs.
7) Hua Lamphong - this one has a via duct to Hua Lamphong Main Railway Station. The display under the glass pyramid is the foundation stone laid by HRH The Crown Prince.
Photos of some of the stations are here: First looks at the Phetchburi, Queen Sirikit Convention Center, and Hua Lampong subway stations
BMCL would sell
the subway at 35 billion baht to reap 200% profit
- translated and summarized from Prachachart
Thurakij, April 1, 2004
More on buying
the subway - Government counters 300 baht per share offer by offering
to pay 1 baht per share
BMCL has set up Metro Mall Co. Ltd as a subsidiary to handle the retail trading inside MRTA Subway station areas and hire professionals to run an underground department store with BMCL and Ch. Karnchang PCL as major shareholders of more than 50%.
BMCL decided to set up a new subsidiary to handle the department store since hiring other companies to handle retailing inside the station area will cause lots of problems about revenue sharing.
The underground department stores will consist of brand name products. After BMCL made an unofficial leasing announcement, there are several retailers such as 7-11 (Thailand), Starbucks (Thailand), O Bon Pain (Thailand), EZ Buy, and Se-Ed book that have signed contracts to rent space inside subway station areas. The main target is those who are not passengers, a different approach compared to BTSC.
The monthly rent rate is in the range of 1500-3000 baht/sq-m while the monthly transferring rate from previous owners will be 10,000 baht/sq-m, at par with BTSC Skytrain renting rates and the space for rent will be 4-70 sq-m.
BMCL is decorating the subway stations and the underground Metro Mall department store -> ready to be opened on August 12, 2004 (official opening date with a royal ceremony) at the following 5 Stations:
1) Sukhumvit, 2) Chatuchak, 3) Kamphengphet, 4) Phaholyothin, 5) Queen Sirikit National Convention Center
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