...They would be divided into four groups each day to separately inspect suspicious objects and detect any bomb at all subway stations and inside the underground train, Mr. Ronnachit told journalists here on Monday.
The canine bomb expert squad would be on service everyday from 06:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m., the daily service hours of the underground train, he said.
...Mr. Ronnachit said, however, that there had been no bomb threats against the subway service so far although subway security officers used to discover unattended briefcases which later turned to be forgetfully left by some passengers.
Metro Mall opens first at Sukhumvit subway station on September 2 with 22 shops - translated and summarized from Thairath, August 20, 2005
Metro Mall Development Co. Ltd. will have an unofficial opening of it subway shops on September 2, 2005 and official opening date on September 9, 2005. The commercial area will be 759 sq. meters comprising 22 shops of 7 types.
1) Convenience stores [7-11]
5) Financial Institute [Quick Cash, Easy Buy, KTC]
6) Food and drink
7) Other stores [drug store, eye glasses store, cosmetic store, barber, jewelry, gold shop, utensil, and music store]
Metro Mall is 95% done. There will be 11 Metro Malls: Klong Toei, Queen Sirikit Center, Sukhumvit, Phetburi, Phra Ram 9, Ratchadaphisek, Thailand Cultural Center, Lad Phrao, Phaholyothin, Chatuchak, Kamphaeng Phet--524 shops, 12,720 sq. meters.
MRTA is pushing the holding company hard during the negotiation with the Ministry of Finance and MOTC on August 22, 2005. MRTA said it takes three years to realize the Purple Line [Bang Yai section] so MRTA is going to push the holding company as soon as possible--by the end of 2006--and MRTA is going to transfer the construction responsibility to the holding company. MRTA is going to rely on a JBIC loan while inviting the following firms to handle the local assembly of 300-400 subway rolling stocks.
1) CAF [Spain]
2) Siemens [Germany]
3) Alstom [France]
4) Hitachi-Kawasaki-Kinki Sharyo-Nippon Sharyo [Japan]
The decision for local assembly along with investment package will have to be done by the end of 2005 so as to get cheaper subway rolling stock with technology transfer. The initial phase would be the importation of 20 new subway rolling stocks.
MRTA would have to handle the following three lines with a total distance of 94 km.
1) Purple Line (43 km)
1.1) Bang Yai Section (23 km)
1.2) Rat Boorana Section (20 km)
2) Orange Line (24 km)
3) Blue Ring and Blue Subway (27 km)
3.1) Blue Ring (13 km)
3.2) Blue Line through Rattnakosin Island (14 km)
The further new line would be:
4) Yellow Line (32 km)
MRTA would ask for a new cabinet resolution to get the loan of 2.6 billion as the first batch of registered capital for the holding company with the Ministry of Finance as the underwriter instead of MRTA. After setting up a new company with the Ministry of Finance, the registered capital will be 3 billion baht. It will take another three month to get stock from BMCL.
BMCL planning to raise the subway ticket prices on October 1 - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, Thairath, Dailynews, August 23, 2005
BMCL said they have to raise the subway ticket prices to follow the contract with MRTA and to cover the operating cost even though the number of passenger has reached 200,000 a day.
Nevertheless, the discount of stored value tickets will be kept to keep the number of daily passengers high enough. Furthermore, the Metro Malls will be opened according to plan in this September. [2Bangkok.com will have an article on these Metro Malls tomorrow.]
Ch. Karnchang PCL also insists that they will sell part of their BMCL stocks to the government even though they are going to offer an IPO with no delay to get more funds to purchase five more sets of subway rolling stock from Siemens.
BMCL Subway has 190,000 average passengers a day. The number of passengers peaks at 200,000 only on Friday.
On the other hand, the average number of daily passengers on Monday to Thursday is about 100,000 passengers a day. Only when there is a special event at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center do passenger numbers reach 200,000 a day.
The daily ticket revenue is 3 million baht a day from the daily number of passenger or about 190,000-200,000 passengers a day. 220,000-230,000 passengers a day are needed to get the revenue of 3.5 million baht a day--still far away from the break even point of 4.5 million baht a day (400,000 passengers a day). The increasing number of passengers is due to the continuing fuel hike and should reach 200,000 passengers a day by the end of 2005.
The Metro Mall will become a reality in September 2005 while the telecom system to allow mobile phone communication within subway tunnels will be done by the end of 2005 after obtaining the temporary license from the National Telecommunication Relations Committee recently. However, the permanent license for mobile phone communication within subway tunnels will be issued later on.
BMCL is going to raise the ticket price to 14-36 baht on October 1, 2005 with a 30% discount for students. BMCL would still guarantee 20% discount from the new rates for stored value tickets as a promotion. However, BMCL would readjust the ticket prices according to CPI (inflation rate) after January 1, 2006, to be be effective on July 3, 2006.
BMCL has been filing for an IPO. SEC has asked if the purchase of 25% of BMCL stock by MRTA to set up a holding company would have detrimental effects on the company or not. BMCL has replied that the MRTA purchase would not delay the IPO offering or have any detrimental effects on BMCL. If SEC allows BMCL to offer an IPO before setting up the holding company this would allow BMCL to capitalize enough funds to buy five more sets of subway rolling stocks from Siemens or another company. It takes 30 months to get the five new sets. The holding company would have to pay at market prices for the other 75% of BMCL stocks--at least 3 baht/ stocks.
Speeding up Purple Line/Subway news - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, August 21, 2005
MRTA is going to speed up the Purple Line project to be done in three years after making a settlement with the local people of Taopoon while keeping the 15 baht fixed rate alive to push more people to use MRTA services.
The number of Subway passengers is increasing due to the continuing fuel hike:
|Daily number of passenger during weekdays:||160,000||190,000|
|Daily number of passenger during weekends:||130,000||160,000|
MRTA has added more security personnel and sniffer dogs to ensure safety from terrorism or other security hazards.
Final study on the Red Line Commuter (Bangsue-Rangsit) - translated and summarized from Dailynews, August 12, 2005
OTP told the press that the final study for the northern section of the red line commuter [Bangsue - Rangsit] is to be done in September 2005 and submitted to SRT and start the bidding for the construction.
There are 5 stations for this Red line commuter [all elevated - 24.6 km]
1) Bangsue, 2) Bang Khen, 3) Laksi, 4) Donmuang, 5) Rangsit
The price tag is 39.6 billion baht and the are two main contracts:
1) Bangsue Station which can be upgraded into Northern Bangkok Transportation Center once the Airport Link has been extended to Bangsue and Donmuang
2) Bangsue - Rangsit line on Hopewell Pillars - using 153 pillars from the total 554 Hopewell pillars.
Fortunately, this project is being been built on SRT land with no slum dwellers so there will be no protest against the project. SRT only needs to remove hawkers on SRT land near Talad Donmuang and Donmuang station.
Note: There will be no stations at the following places:
1) Km 11 Railway Community [prejudice against SRT workers]
2) Wat Samian Naree [the station closest to Matichon Press - the mouthpiece for Democrat Party]
3) North Park [too few business people--even though this is the station nearest to Dhurakij Bandit University]
4) Lak Hok [the station near Muang Ek Village and Rangsit University founded by members of the Democrat Party]
After taking serious consideration, MRTA found that it would be better if MRTA decides to go through Yaowaraj Road instead of New Road since more people know about Yaowaraj that New Road (from Saphan Lek Bon, Sam Yaek to Hualamphong) even though it is a longer route than going through New Road.
The 6.5 billion baht capitalization of BMCL to purchase more sets from Siemens, investing in subsidiaries, and retail deals will be as follows:
1) BMCL approving the sale of 2.6 billion baht stocks at 1 baht par
2) 450 million stocks will be in the hand of BMCL workers
3) 1550 million stocks will be IPO
4) BMCL receiving the other 1 billion stocks from NPark--adding with the existing ones and BMCL would have 11.985 billion stocks in hand complying with SEC without raising new capitalization or borrowing from creditors.
5) BMCL is expecting 6.5 billion baht capitalization to purchase 5 new sets (2.5 billion baht), 300 million baht investment on the subsidiaries, 1.5 billion baht for current flow and the rest would be the signal and system rehab, new signal and system installation, and debt repayment.
BMCL is expecting a 15% passenger hike from the current 170,000-180,000 passengers a day to reach 200,000 passengers a day due to the condo/office boom along the subway line despite the initial hiccups and glitches due to the inadequate length of the system and TVMs.
After raising the capital in stock markets, BMCL said they are going to raise the ticket prices to the full rate of 14-36 baht once the discount expires after September 30, 2005. Nevertheless, BMCL would ensure that those who use the SmartCard would still get special discounts at the new rates.
MRTA must pay 2.5 billion baht to BMCL for 25% of its stock - translated and summarized from Prachachat Thirakij, June 27 - 30, 2005
BMCL has set a deadline of July 25, 2005 for MRTA to purchase 25% of BMCL stock at 2.5 billion baht. If the payment is late, BMCL would ask MRTA to pay at the market price. MRTA is negotiating with KTB for a 2.5 billion baht loan.
The deadline is due to a filing schedule with SET at the end of the third quarter (September 2005).
Furthermore, BMCL has increased registered capital from 7.35 billion baht to 9.8 billion baht. After the MRTA purchase, the BMCL stock allocation for Ch. Karnchang will be down from 66% to 49%, but still a majority.
Somkhit wooing JBIC to grant a soft loan for subway expansion - translated and summarized from Matichon, June 17, 2005
Minister Somkhit is flying to Japan from June 15-19, 2005 to negotiate with JBIC on soft loans to finance 30% of the mass transit expansion. 555.737 billion baht with 424.437 billion baht for civil works and 131.3 billion baht for rolling stock, financed 30% by budget, 40% by domestic loans [169.321 billion baht] and the other 30% foreign loan [126.991 billion baht]. The foreign loan would reduce the current account deficit.
JBIC has granted the soft loan to Thai governments since 1968 with the total amount of 2.010537 trillion baht. The latest JBIC loan for Thailand is a 70 billion baht loan for Suvanabhum Airport while the other 42 billion baht for the Suvannabhum Airport comes from taxpayers.
Siemens and Alsthom digging up more info before negotiating with BOI and FTI for local rolling stock assembly - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, June 16, 2005
ALSTHOM has come to MRTA to negotiate about the plan for local assembly in Thailand. However, this investment must be a long term investment--at least longer than the initial 5 years. So far, MRTA needs at least 300 subway carriages [100 sets] for the first 3 lines [Blue Ring, Purple Line and Orange Line].
ALSTHOM needs more data about the potential of Thai industry to support local assembly as well as the future potential after the first 100 sets of subway have been assembled in the next 5 years. ALSTHOM has told MRTA about their business expansion in China such as the the locomotive assembly, DMU and EMU assembly--at least 10,000 carriages.
MRTA told ALSTHOM that they eventually need more than 1000 subway carriages to serve the Red Line commuter, Suvannabhum Airport Link, Yellow LRT and even Pink LRT along Highway 304--all locally assembled to cut down the cost except the first batch of Blue line and Purple lines which have to be imported.
However, the demands for SRT section will be submitted to the cabinet in July 2005. Even though SRT has expressed to the public that they need at least 70 diesel electric locos with 2500 HP engines to cure the locomotive shortage and at least 100 set of DMUs and 1000 aircon carriages to cure the seat shortages.
So far, the Imported version would cost MRTA about 1.5-1.6 million Euro/carriage [4.5-4.8 million Euro/set -> 180 -190 million baht/set]while the local assembly would cost MRTA 1.15 million Euro/carriage [3.45 million Euro/set - 138 million baht/set] - a sure sign of saving and local industry development from local assembly which Premier Thaksin strongly agrees with.
Siemens and CAF are waiting to negotiate with MRTA about this local assembly matter next week while collecting more data for the local partners.
MRTA also discusses with both BOI and FTI (the Federation of Thai Industries) about the local assembly scheme. FTI and BOI agree with MRTA about this scheme.
Therefore, the private investors should submit conditions for the local assembly Only those who come up with the best deals would be awarded with attractive investment packages from BOI and local industry support from FTI if they decide to invest outside Bangkok.
Subway financing: BMCL suggesting the government allow 20% private joint venture - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, June 8, 2005
The MD of BMCL has suggested the government allow the private sector to make 20% participation while government invest 80%.
BTS advisors said the government should allow many private firms to participate in the 20% joint venture with the government while the government should coordinate all the private firms.
BMCL has raised the price of BMCL stock over 3 baht/stock after the hike of the land around the subway route--ready to offer an IPO in the stock market despite of the request from the government to sell back stock to MRTA at 1.50 baht/share. Even BTS refuses to sell their stocks to the government at any price. They think it is better to exchange stock between BTS and BMCL instead.
BTS is negotiating with BMCL to make a discount for joint tickets after installing a smart card system at BTS stations. However, BTS also has to negotiate with the smart card system producers about the right price tag for new smart card systems installation.
Only those who use single trip card will have to stick with magnetic cards while those who use stored value cards would have a chance to buy the new stored value smart card.
Complaints about Bangsue park and ride - translated and summarized from Matichon, May 23, 2005
Those who live in Bangsue area have complained about the Bangsue park and ride that they cannot access it since there is no direct road from Bangsue area (Tao Poon, Prachanivet). Even the existing roads are too narrow to accommodate more vehicles.
One of the main reasons for the lack of direct access roads to Bangsue park and ride is that SRT (the landowner) refuses to allow the construction of roads or even automobile flyovers on SRT land. Not surprisingly, there are too few cars at the Bangsue park and ride.
Therefore, the SRT Board has been asked to approve the construction of direct access roads and automobile flyovers as soon as possible. Otherwise, that park and ride would do nothing to solve traffic problems.
Road expansions around Bangsue Junction along with more terminals for BMTA buses would be a great boon. SRT and BMTA needs to terminate the monopoly of BMTA bus Number 52 so other bus lines could set permanent terminals at Bangsue in the same way they have done to Hualamphong, and make the plan to terminate intercity trains at Bangsue with much better level of success.
The failure of terminating intercity trains at Bangsue is due to the narrow access roads and too few buses terminating at Bangsue.
A tale of two newspapers: Subway passengers after the fare hike
|Subway passengers dropped 5% after the ticket hike - translated and summarized from Dailynews, June 8, 2005
After the subway ticket hike, the number of passengers dropped by only 5%. The passengers at QSNCC Station on June 5 shot up compared to other Sundays. On the other hand, the number of passengers on Monday, June 6, 2005 dropped by 5% to 170,000 passengers due to psychological effects after the ticket hike while revenue increased from 2.5 million baht/day to 3 million baht/day. The number of passengers should go back to the normal levels.
BMCL has already offered special discounts for those who are willing to pay at least 300 baht for stored value tickets. Only children under 12 and senior citizen over 65 are entitled to half-value discounts for both stored value cards and tokens.
Many subway passengers even after the ticket hike - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, June 6, 2005
BMCL is claming that there are still many subway passengers even after ticket hike while the MRTA governor said they would reduce the ticket price back to the same old level if MRTA could buy at least 45% of BMCL stock.
After raising the price from 10-15 baht to 12-31 baht, BMCL said there are 136,000 passengers a day during the weekend--up from previous weekends where there were 110,000 passengers a day due to the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale at QSNCC.
The steady fuel hike would encourage more people to ride the subway as regular customers.
However, MRTA Governor said they would lower the ticket price to 10-15 baht if MRTA could grab at least 45% of the subway stock.
The new ticket price for subway effective from June 5-September 30, 2005 - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, June 2, 2005
Stored Value Card [Adult]: 20% discount (10-25 baht)
Stored Value Card [Students]: 30% discount (8-22 baht)
Stored Value Card [Children/Senior Citizen]: 50% discount (6-16 baht)
Single trips [Adults/Students]: 12-31 baht
Single trips [Children/Senior Citizen]: 6-16 baht
This measure is to encourage more spending through smart cards. No need to stand on the long lines in front of TVMs. It is also encourages more passengers to ride the subway.
Note: Responses to the new Subway rates are here
After turning to the 12-31 baht rate (with 10-25 baht discount) many Subway passengers said they prefer the good old rate of 10 baht for the first 3 stations and 15 baht for the rest. Such a rate hike would do no good to encourage the usage of the mass transit system.
Furthermore, the massive expansion of Subway networks to cover all parts of the Bangkok area as well as the suburbs are the first priority.
Cabinet approving 2.45 billion baht to purchase 25% of BMCL stock - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, May 31, 2005
PM Office Speaker said the cabinet has approved 2.45 billion baht for MRTA to purchase 25% of BMCL stock at par from a domestic source without underwriting from MOF. The Budget Bureau better pay the creditors the principle and annual interest for MRTA. However Minister Somkid said the Budget Bureau would only pay the interests and MRTA should pay the principle.
Enthusiasm for local assembly of subway rolling stock - translated and summarized from Manager Online, May 27, 2005
Minister Suriya said foreign investors who are going to invest in the subway have to set up local assembly for subway rolling stock using local materials and making technology transfers to Thai people. This measure is to satisfy local demand as well as solving the maintenance problems. The subway accident in January 2005 forced MRTA to ship the broken subway rolling stock to Germany for heavy repair.
During the visit to ALSTOM's subway rolling stock assembly line at Valensia (France) to see the new driverless heavy rail subway rolling stock used in both Singapore (Purple NE line - 75 bogies -> 25 sets) and Shanghai (Line 3 and Line 5), ALSTOM showed strong interest in the local assembly line. This could be compensation for their loss in the initial bidding to Siemens. The strong demand for both Skytrain-Subway (and even railway) rolling stock have made local assembly worth setting up.
However, Siemens and Bombadier are not to be outdone by ALSTOM, so they have shown strong interest in setting up a local assembly line to compete with ALSTOM. The winner would have to negotiate with BOI for a beneficial investment package.
However, MRTA know too well that it would take time to set up the local assembly line so they have to attach the provision to import rolling stock (75-90 bogies or 25-30 sets) before the local assembly line is ready to start production.
Predicted demand for subway rolling stock - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, May 27, 2005
MRTA has estimated that MRTA would need 2,700 carriages (900 sets) of subway rolling stock. The rolling stock for Bangsue-Bang Yai may need to be imported since it would take time to construct the local assembly line, but newer lines would get the locally assembled version.
MRTA poll results on the extensions and new lines - translated and summarized from the MRTA website
After sending 1,000,000 poll forms, MRTA has received 92,386 forms back with 90,902 properly filled out. After processing the forms, the results show the opinions of the public in regards to the subway system:
1. MRTA Subway project did solves traffic problems very well -> 84.76%
2. MRTA Subway project cut pollution very well -> 84.30%
3. MRTA Subway project facilitates journeys between home and office in a speedy manner -> 89.28%
4. MRTA Subway project has modestly cut travel expenses -> 47.37%
5. MRTA Subway should extend to the following suburbs after finishing the 3 main lines (5 projects)
5.1) Bang Khae - Phutthamonthon Sai 4 - Salaya
5.2) Bang Khae - Om Noy - Sam Phran
5.3) Bangsue - Rangsit - Lum Lookka
6. All 5 projects (1 ring + 2 lines) must be completed as soon as possible.
7. Subway should have much cheaper ticket prices with monthly passes like BTS.
8. More Park and Ride and parking lots at every station with much better access roads for Bangsue parking lots and adequate space.
9. Much better efficiency required.
10. Much better security and accident prevention measures.
11. Minimize traffic problems during the constructions of extensions along with much better traffic management.
12. Better service with much clearer direction signs.
MRTA speeds up BMCL stock purchasing to gain more power - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, May 16, 2005
MRTA is going to buy 25% of BMCL stock with a 2.5 billion baht credit line from KBank and SCB with the advice to MRTA that MRTA should never buy more than 50% of BMCL stock let alone 100% to prevent BMCL from becoming a state enterprise within MRTA. The fair price is at 1.52-3 baht since BMCL has purchased back the stock held by NPark at 1.52 baht/share. This purchase to gain control of BMCL has to be done before the third quarter of 2005 when BMCL has scheduled to offer an IPO. The price for BMCL stock in the market is expected at 4 baht/share, so the delay would force MRTA to purchase BMCL at market prices with complicated procedures instead of the 3 baht/stock as proposed by BMCL.
Maew green lights 1st phase subway expansion - translated and summarized from Matichon, May 16, 2005
Maew [PM Thaksin] has given a green light to the MRTA proposal and is ready to push the 269 billion baht project in early June 2005. No securitization needed. Financing is by loan (70%).
The Public Debt Office said the government is going to invest on megaprojects with 50-60% from loans, 15% from the annual budget, and 15% from state enterprise revenue.
Even if loan are the main financial measure, it would do little harm to public debt in the next five years (2006-2010). It would still be 30% of GDP with the assumption of 5% growth.
For MRTA projects, 70% would come from loan and only 30% from securitizations due to the high cost of Securitizations. They need high interest rates or high return to attract bond-stock holders with a stock-bond rate of at least AA level.
BOT Governor said the 1.65 trillion baht Investment on megaprojects is lower than the expected 2.35 trillion baht proposals thanks to the cuts on the redundancy. 300 billion baht investment a year does not harm the macroeconomic picture.
The government is trying to keep financial deficit at the level of no more than 2% of GDP. The investment in schools, hospitals and housing can use local materials to meet demand with not more than 50% importation.
Of transport projects, MRTA projects are the most ready to get started with a total price tag from 2005-2012 of 269.527 billion baht
1. Purple Line
1.1 Bangsue - Bang Yai - 46.962 billion baht
1.2 Bangsue - Rat Boorana - 64.874 billion baht
2. Blue Ring
2.1 Hua Lamphong - Bang Khae - 49.902 billion baht
2.2 Bangsue - Tha Phra - 25.101 billion baht
3. Bang Kapi - Bang Bumru Orange Line - 82.688 billion baht