Bangkok Subway News April 2004

BMCL insists 3 baht a share for subway buyout--challenges government to pay or make good their threat to create another system along the same route - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, June 7, 2004 and Bangkok Biznews, June 7, 2004
BMCL said the price for the stocks to be sold to MRTA will be 3 baht/share since the government has deprived BMCL of the chance to make money so the high price tag is for compensation.
BMCL challenged that the government to come up with a system parallel to BMCL tracks--with connections to other system while isolating BMCL tracks. This type of measure would forever severe the relationship between the public and private sector for making joint ventures.
Commentary: Even though the stock price of BMCL is too high, the heavy-hand methods against BMCL and Ch. Kanrchang PCL to deprive the Democrats of having the financial resources to challenge TRT's supremacy is too blatant to be acceptable because TRT is using the Bangkokian's sufferings for political gain. However, the delays on the Taksin and Samrong extensions will cause a backlash against TRT. It would be much better if the government just comes up with a simple majority by holding 51% of stock, but TRT has the strong intention to grab all the shares to give to their cronies in the same way as the privatization of PTT, TOT, and AirportThai.
No wonder then that the EGAT privatization is bound to be a total failure because too many people are opposed to the plan. Same can be said to the pan to nationalize and then privatize BMCL.
Even though the BTSC and BMCL (or even the commuter networks of SRT) will be forced to merge in the same way as Hong Kong MTR and Kwangtung Rail (East Rail + West Rail) by market demands, the government should never meddle in the process for their own gain. Otherwise they will suffer from political defeat as the consequence.

BMA-MRTA setting up motorcycle taxis around Subway Stations - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, June 8, 2004
The BMA City Clerk said BMA and MRTA are preparing motorcycle taxis around subway stations and trying very hard to prevent mafia from grabbing motorcycle fleets. This can be done by picking existing fleets of motorcycle taxis to be employees of MRTA where they receive a salary, other welfare benefits and insurance.
MRTA and BMA police will arrange the place for parking taxis and motorcycle taxis, bicycles racks, and new orders for feeder vans

Farcino Pharmacy aiming for new branches in the subway - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, June 8, 2004
Farcino (local franchise of Phamarcy) said they are going to open branches of Farcino at the following subway stations: Phetburi, Kamphaengphet, Ratchadaphisek, Lad Prhao, and Thai Cultural Center.

Golden space in the subway--Not an easy game! - translated and summarized from Matichon, May 30, 2004
The subway is going to become a reality soon and Nestle, Maeng Pong, Yamazaki (Thailand), 7-11 (Thailand--run by the CP Group) as well as bakery and ice cream shops (Swensen & Aunty Annie--run by Central restaurant, a subsidiary of Central Pattana) have rented space inside subway stations with high business potential.
However, it will take lots of time to boost the daily passenger to reach goals. Even BTSC has only 380,000 passengers a day with an average ticket price of 20 baht even though BTSC initally targeted 600,000 passengers a day with average ticket price of 26 baht.
This lower than expected numbere of daily pasngers have forced many shops inside skytrain station to go out of business.
Mass transit systems like the Skytrain are for those who have a salary of at least 15000 baht a month--those who may have private cars aready. So far Skytrain has an inadequate number of gates with escalators. Most passengers decline to use automatic bank exchanges to break down large bills into coins since they have crumpled banknotes.
MRTA will have a really hard time boosting the number of passenger to reach 200,000 a day. Even Yum Inernational (the local franchise holder of KFC) said they expect more revenue from KFC branches close to subway stations than retail shops inside subway stations. Oishi group (the local franchise of Oishi restaurant) said they will wait until the numebr of daily passenger is high enough.
There are only 40% of possible shops inside Skytrian stations. Central Patthana agree that most subway passengers rush from one place to another and shops take a long time to become successful. Only shops in the station with high potnetial (Mochit - Victory Monuyment - Siam) will be profitable. Not surprisingly, stations like Phra Khanong and Saphan Kwai are virtually ghost stations.
The high rent rates also deter many people from setting up the shops inside subway stations--1500-3000 baht/sq-m compared to 2500 baht/sq-m for grade-A zone in Central Department Stores (especially true for Central Lad Phrao).
Disputes on advertising inside subway stations and tunnels already creates tussles between BMCL and MRTA. The telecom installation also creates a war of words between TOT and BMCL. The retailing inside subway stations will be another ticking time bomb for BMCL--ready to explode after July 1.

Suriya speeding up bidding on 13-station Purple Line to Bang Yai to counter oil shock - translated and summarized from Siam Turakij, May 23-29, 2004
Suriya is Speeding up MRTA subway extensions: Bangyai Line (Purple Line) and Ban Khae Extension (Blue Line) as the way to counter the current oil hike. Bidding for the Bang Yai line will be held in October 2004 and the contractor will be signed in May 2005 and the Bangkae Extension (Hua Lamphong - Bang Khae) will follow soon.
It will take three years to finish the first leg of the Purple line while it will take five years to finish the Bangkhae extension of the Blue line. Bangyai line is all elevated while Bangkae extension has to be underground when it passes through Rattanakosin Island.
There will be 13 stations for Bangyai Line - after Bangsue:
1) Tao Poon (near Taopoon Police Office)
2) Wongsawang (near Big C Wongsawang)
3) Nakhon In (the station at the road to Wat Nakhon In)
4) Rewadee (in front of Soi Rewadee - through soi to Bang Kwang and Nonthaburi Pier)
5) Khae Rai (Near New Nonthaburi Government center)
6) Sri Pornsawan (near Jusco Rattanathibet)
7) Phra Nanaklao Bridge (should be called Sanambin Nam to differentiate from Saphan Phra Nanaklao on the western side)
8) Saphan Phrananklao (Bangyai side)
9) Rattanathibet (Rattnathibet Road)
10) Ratchaphruek Village (should be Bang Yai)
11) Wongchai Nakhon Village (should be Ratchaphreuk since it is close to Ratchaphruek Intersection)
12) Bang Buathong Station (near Bang Buathong Intersection)
13) Bangyai (near Bangyai Sport Complex - Terminal Station with land expropiration for the new maintenance center (to complement the Huay Kwang Main Depot) as well as a Park and Ride facility to pick up passengers from Lad Lumkaeo, Pathum Thani, Bang Yai and Bang Buathong)
Commentary: The delay on joint ticket implementation between Skytrain and Subway has already frustrated Skytrain passengers even before the full service of Subway.

Buying the subway and building the extensions - translated and summarized from Prachachat Thurakij, May 27-29, 2004 and Than Setthakij, May 27-29, 2004
Local banks (SCB, KTB, KBank) have very strong interest to grant more loans at special interest rates for MRTA expansions and MTB is supporting the plan for purchasing BMCL (KTB is one of BMCL shareholders).
Local banks have sent financial auditors to check MRTA balance sheets and check the foreign debts and financial situation.
MRTA governor said the price for BMCL stocks would be 2 baht/share--very high compared to 1.50 baht/share purchased by Natural Park PCL since MRTA would like to give some profits to those shareholders who have already purchased BMCL stock to encourage more selling. Therefore, MRTA is aiming to negotiate with shareholders and creditors since it is much easier to negotiate through the creditors and shareholders than the owners.
The MRTA Board will come up with the resolutions for 91 km of expansions with a price tag of 300 billion baht on May 31 and then the MRTA Board resolution will be submitted to MOTC before sending to the cabinet.

For the 91-km extensions, there are two major sections:
1) These sections already have through studies:
1.1) Southern extension of Blue line (Hua Lamphong - Bang Khae) - 4.8 km underground and 9.1 km elevated -> total 13.9 km
1.2) Orange Line (Bang Kapi - Sam Sen) - 18.5 km underground and 1.5 km elevated
1.3) Purple Line (Bang Yai - bang Sue) - 20 km all elevated
1.4) Purple Line (Sam Sen - Rat Boorana) - 9 km underground - 6 km elevated total 15 km
2) Additional New Section
2.1) Blue Ring -> Bangsue, Charan Sanitwongse - 13.1 km - all elevated across Chao Prhaya at Bang Or
2.2) Bang Bumru Extension of Orange Line (Sam Sen - Bang Bumru) - 2.5 km underground (with underwater tunnel) and 1.5 km elevated - total 4 km
2.3) Samsen Connector of Purple Line (Bangsue - Sam Sen) - 5 km all elevated (Actually there should be a 1.5 km underground section when it has to pass the main gate of Sukhothai Palace (Palace newly renovated for the Crown Prince) near Watchira Hospital.
MRTA is waiting for 386 million to fund the detailed design (300 million baht) and the land expropriation (86 million baht) for the subdepot and maintenance center as well as the stairways for elevated sections.
The purple line (Bangsue - Wongsawang - Phra Nanaklao - Bangyai) will be executed first since the elevated tracks are much easier to handle.
MRTA System Maintenance Director said the Radianz Networks is going to finish the installation of the mobile phone antenna inside the station by the end of June 2004. After that, it is up to the telecom companies whether they are going to pay 300,000 baht/month/station to rent the space for installing telecom substations.
However BMCL complained that MRTA has not transferred the area to BMCL yet. Even worse, during the decoration as well as the maintenance, they found several kinked power lines inside the tunnel.
Commentary: The interchange stations at Sanghee Intersection, Bang Plad Intersection and Tha Phra intersection are too critical to be abandoned.

Subway extensions delayed due to confusion and red tape - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, May 9, 2004
MRTA Governor said MRTA has to submit a report to MOTC so as to get cabinet approval on the budget for subway extensions (Hua Lamphong - Bangkhae, Phra Nanklao - Rat Boorana). While waiting, MRTA is hiring a consultant to examine the results from the existing studies and make a new cost estimation so that they can start the project immediately and fulfill the 6-year plan.
Even though the Traffic Policy Office told the public at large that the subway extensions have been approved by the cabinet, it is only an announcement causing lots of red tape when asking for a budget since there is actually no cabinet resolution to back up the announcement.
It seems to MRTA that the Traffic Policy Office is telling a big lie to the public with impunity. MRTA has to get the routes approved first before starting the construction. Even though there are financial resources available, it is up to the government to either borrow for MRTA or ask MRTA to borrow the money on their own.
However, MRTA is asking for the budget from the budget bureau to make a detailed study as well as studying the social impact and the land expropriation. The budget would be 300 million baht to hire the previous consultant to handle detailed studies along with designs of the projects to to speed up the project and be done in eight months. After ironing out those details, MRTA will call a new bid for the contractors to handle the projects.
Commentary: MRTA is feeling the same bitterness as BTS (the Skytrain company) when their extensions have been delayed even though the government and Traffic Policy Office (actually another government mouthpiece of propaganda) make a strong claim that the project will be done in six years. However they have created more red tape which they are not supposed to do if they want the project to be done in six years. If the government really wants to win both the hearts and minds of Bangkokians, they must cut red tape to speed up the project even though the routes will pass the Opposition Party's houses instead of passing the cabinet member's houses.

MRTA Park and Ride parking rates proposed - translated and summarized from Matichon, May 8, 2004
MRTA Board are proposing the parking rates for the park and ride to promote more usage of the subway system.
1) 2.5 baht/hour -> 25 baht/10 hour for those who have Subway Smart Card Tickets
2) 20 baht/hour for those who are not subway passengers in all stations except the following stations: Sukhumvit, Phetburi, Sam Yan
3) 30 baht/hour for those who are not subway passengers who park in the following stations: Sukhumvit, Phetburi, Sam Yan
These high rates will discourage those who want to park overnight. These parking rate will need cabinet approval to be enact.

Siam Turakij and the subway - May 4, 2004
Wisarut reports: Siam Turakij still writes negatively about the subway, but at lower tone due to the high popularity of the subway as well as positive responses despite the malfunction of brakes and the screen doors. They said in the latest issue (April 25- May 1, 2004) that: "Bangkokians, you better wake up about your popular MRTA Subway! It costs 100 billion baht. You could create two sets of motorways from Chaing Rai to Sugai Kolok for that amount--or even a 4-lane highway with a total distance of 5000 km - 60 km/province - or 13 billion baht/province."
However, I would respond to the Siam Turakij editor that:
If the SRT workers and SRT unions still use corruption, collusion and nepotism as well as sticking with old mindsets [such as refusing to cooperate with the Skytrain/Subway by upgrading Phayathai and Asok to full-fledged stations, not issuing joint tickets with Subway/Skytrain, not creating park and ride facilities as well as the convenience connection with bus stops, not constructing via ducts to pick up passengers around Pratunam/Phetburi area, very poor design viaduct connecting Donmaung Airport with Donmuang Railway stations], they do not deserve trillions of baht investment through my tax payment.
Because of my strong response toward the posts from SRT workers who stick with their old mindsets, the SRT webmaster deleted my post on SRT webboard.
Investment on new motorways? This only pleases those automobile/oil vested interests as well as highway contractors. Many politicians get started as road contractors as the first step to become corrupt politicians.
April test run review - Matichon Daily, April 23, 2004
Criticisms of the subway - Siam Turakij, April 18-24, 2004

MRTA rejecting the price offered by BMCL - translated and summarized from Komchadluke, May 1, 2004
The MRTA Governor said the BMCL stock price is too high--100% profit is too much. Thus MRTA is threatening not to extend the contract. Suriya said the final conclusion for Subway/Skytrain purchasing will come out soon.
BMCL has invested 7 billion baht and the 3 baht/share of BMCL will enable BMCL to reap a profit of 14 billion baht which is too much. BMCL is claiming that the system will have a future, but have doubt if the future is coming from the private sector or at the expense of public sector. If the problem persists MRTA will not extend the contract.

April test run review - translated and summarized from Matichon Daily, April 23, 2004
There are tens of thousands of people went down 15-25 meters to the subway stations to escape the flaming April weather and have a free ride despite brake malfunctions.
After passing the gate, they found the concourse area is very wide--18-25 meters wide and 150-200 meters long--stunning lots of people because of the size. The concourse section is for PR, control rooms and ticket vending machines which allow passengers to purchase either smart tokens for single trips or smart card stored value tickets. However, the TVMs are not delivered from France yet.
Klong Toei, Sukhumvit and Lad Phrao has sections for stores.
There are 3 forms of platforms:
1) Staggered platform at Silom, Sam Yan, and Hua Lamphong
2) Central Platform at Hua Lamphong and most of the stations
3) Side platform at Bangsue and Klong Toei
The interior part of subway rolling stock is almost the same as Skytrain rolling stock. Only the seat and handles are blue. Not a surprise since Siemens is the producer of both Skytrain and Subway. The special feature is the wheelchair lockers for the handicapped.
It is pretty fast--80 km/hr reaching the destination in 25 minutes. The actual time from end to end of the system is 35 minutes--almost the same as the Skytrain.
There were tens of thousands of subway passengers a day reaching 80,000 people by April 18. Most people said "they like the subway system as an alternative to driving."
For those who miss the April test run, the May test run will be held during the rush hour period during designated dates and times for about 10 days [This has already been postponed]. If both BMCL and MRTA could make a settlement, even those who have no access cards will be invited as well.
Mr [Im]ron Binmadnee (a Muslim Bangkokian) who brought his family from Ram Indra to have a free ride told the Matichon correspondent:
"It is a good alternative for us - even though I ride the Skytrain from Morchit to work at Chitlom. The subway is faster, but very loud during the trip. So, a good thing about the subway is the convenience. The only worries are about the safety despite the PR effort. Even we get stuck on the Skytrain, we can still see, but the subway tunnel is dark..."

Criticisms of the subway - translated and summarized from Siam Turakij, April 18-24, 2004
Professors in Traffic Engineering, the Parliament's Traffic Committee, Pol Gen Salang Bunnag have the following criticisms of the subway:
1) No telecom stations installed - creating mobile phone blindspots.
2) The stations are too big and wide for getting much area for renting. Even Piccadilly Station of London Tube is not that big.
3) The distance between stations is too far way in the central business district area. The distance for each station should not exceed 2000 feet (600 m), but it is 800-1000m (some even 2.2 km for Kamphaengphet to Bangsue, Queen Sirikit to Sukhumvit and Lad Phrao to Phaholyothin. It could cause passengers to become exhausted before reaching the station especially in the case of those who live between Sirikit-Sukhumvit station as well as those who live between Lad Phrao-Phaholyothin.
Same can be said for those who want to change the train at Silom-Salaend interchange station. They need to have the stamina of Hercules to change the train at Silom-Saladaeng since they have to climb 42 meters up and walk about 500 meters at the ground level to reach the station. Even escalators are not much help at all.
4) Queen Sirikit, Lad Phrao and Sukhumvit Stations should be elevated since the underground sections will cause lots of troubles. Generally, the subway stations should be 800 m away. Thus the ventilator has to be designed to ventilate the air at a maximum distance of 400 meters. The distances between Queen Sirikit Station and Sukhumvit station as well as the Lad Phrao-Phaholyothin stations are 2200 m away - thus the ventilator is not powerful enough to handle the tunnel section.
5) Stacking platforms like Samyan, Silom and Lumphinee will cause inconvenience for changing to other modes of transportation especially in the case of Silom station.
6) Ticket Prices--The rate of 14 to 36 baht (12 to 31 baht for first year) as well as half the price for children under 12 and those over 65 are still too expensive since MRTA has not come up with special passes as BTSC has already. The 30-day passes as well as 1-day pass and 3-day pass have drastically cut ticket prices.
Commentary: This shows the bias against the subway by Siam Turakij editors. These are very corrupted ideas imported from America during the 1960's which are obsolete today. Furthermore, stopping MRTA-BMCL from making commercial development is actually the way to cripple the subway system as the way to please those Automobile interests.

Roadshow along the subway route - translated and summarized from the MRTA Website
MRTA and BMCL feel very happy that 90,000 passengers have trusted the subway system as an alternative for traveling around Bangkok and came to the subway stations to try ride for free during the April test run from April 13-18, 2004.
Therefore, BMCL is going to set another road show along the route to attract those who live and work along Subway route to know how to use the system.

Date Place
April 26, 2004 - 11:30am-1:30pm Fortune Town - Ratchadaphisek
April 27, 2004 - 11:30am-1:30pm Lake Ratchada - Ratchadaphisek
April 28, 2004 - 11:30am-1:30pm Abdul Rahim Building - Rama 4
April 29, 2004 - 11:30am-1:30pm CMIC Buidling [Grammy Entertainment HQ] - Asok
April 30, 2004 - 11:30am-1:30pm Olympia Building - Ratchadaphisek
May 4, 2004 - 11:30am-1:30pm Lumphinee Tower - Rama 4
May 6, 2004 - 11:30am-1:30pm PTT PCL - Vibahvadee Rangsit
May 6, 2004 - 2:30pm-3:30pm TMB PCL HQ - Phahol Yothin
May 7, 2004 - 11:30am-1:30pm Silom Complex - Silom
May 10, 2004 - 11:30am-1:30pm Le Concord Building - Ratchadaphisek

Radianz wins subway project - The Nation, April 22, 2004
Subway operator Bangkok Metro Co LTD (BMCL) yesterday said it had allowed its subsidiary Radianz Communication Network to provide wireless communications services along its underground line...
Radianz has hired a sub-contractor to install the antenna system in the subway, allowing for mobile phone communications along the commuter line...
Another telecom source said Advanced Info Service (AIS) Plc had also won a similar deal from Radianz to install a system for its own use.
Without mentioning names, Total Access Communication (DTAC) recently criticised the project as favouring one telecom company by allowing it to monopolise fibre-optics installation.

Earlier: Cell phone service in subway not complete - Siam Turakij, April 9-16, 2004

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