Bangkok Subway News 2000-2001

Demolishing Ratchada-Lad Phrao Flyover to Rebuild the New One
Dailynews, January 24, 2001
MRTA is preparing to demolish the Ratchada-Lad Phrao Flyover and rebuild a new one at the center of Ratchadaphisek Inner Ring Road since the old one violates traffic engineering principle and is not safe. Furthermore, the foot of flyover blocks the entry to the park and ride.
Mr. Praphat Jiongsa-nguan (MRTA Director) said MRTA is cooperating with BMA and ION Joint Venture (MRTA Contractor) to demolish the Ratchada-Lad Phrao since the flyover was built without using traffic engineering principles. The flyover is on the left and right sides of the road, not at the center as other flyovers. The reason is that the flyover was built when there was a plan to construct the Lavalin Skytrain along Ratchadaphisek Inner Ring Road in 1984. Therefore, BMA decided to construct a flyover on either side of the road. However, Lavalin Skytrain was aborted since Lavalin could not find financial resources to realize the project.
MRTA is constructing a subway along the old Lavalin route and found that the flyover will block the entry of the park and ride facility (a 9-floor building). The blueprint of the parking facility stipulates that it is necessary to demolish the old flyover and build a new one at the center of the road with a ramp connecting the flyover with the park and ride. The budget for park and ride is about 100 million baht (US$ 2.5 million) which MRTA will pay first and then BMA have to pay MRTA back. MRTA will cut down the support pillars of the flyover so the tunnel can be built without interruption on the flyover structure. Such a process will speed up the construction since there is no need to wait until the flyover is demolished and postpone the demolition process.
MRTA is now preparing the demolition of the flyover to be ready by the end of the year and MRTA will ask Traffic Police to plan for traffic management to minimize the demolition effects on the people.

MRTA Tunnel Construction On Schedule
Thairath, January 4, 2001
Mr. Praphat Jongsa-nguan (MRTA Director) said that the construction of the subway tunnel has met the schedule set by MRTA even though it was initially delayed due to the problems with land transfer. There is 200 meters more to be done (from Samyan to Hua Lamphong) and the tunnel will be done in this February, after 3 1/2 years of tunnel construction (started in August 1997 at Bon Kai). The internal structure of 18 subway stations is done, only the internal decoration (laying tracks, installation of escalators and elevators, and setting up subway systems) is left to be done.
Mr. Praphat said that there are three civil engineering sections that need to be sped up to be completed on time (Northern section to be opened on December 5, 2002, and Southern Section to be opened on August 12, 2003).

Three civil engineering sections to be sped up:
1. Ventilation systems
2. Eight emergency exits at the following places
---2.1 Chula Soi 5 (between Sam Yarn and Hua Lamphong Station)
---2.2 Between Queen Sirikit and Sukhumvit Station
---2.3 Front of BB Tower between Sukhumvit and Phetburi Station
---2.4 Front of People Republic of China Embassy, just before Tiam Ruam Mit Station
---2.5 Front of Robinson Department Store - Ratchada Branch (between Tiam Ruam Mit and Pracharat Bumphen Station)
---2.6 Front of Nikko Mahanakhorn Hotel - now Grand Hotel after changing the ownership (between Pracharat Bumphen and Suthisarn Station)
---2.7 Front of Panaphan school (between Lad Phrao and Phahol Yothin Station)
---2.8 Chatuchak Park (between Phahol Yothin and Mochit Station)
3. Tunnels across Suthisarn and Huay Kwang Intersection

Structure of 18 Subway Stations Nearly Done
Thairath, January 15, 2001
Mr. Chookiat Phothayanuwat (Director Construction Dept., MRTA) said the civil work section and the foundation work of 18 stations is nearly done.

Civil Engineer Work Done
Northern Tunnel (Bangsue - Huay Kwang) 100%
Southern Tunnel (Huay Kwang - Hua Lamphong) 95%

Station Foundation Works of Southern Section
Hua Lamphong Station
Station Roof ----100%
Ticket Floor ----100%
Sam Yarn Station
Station Roof ----97%
Ticket Floor ----94%
See Lom Station
Station Roof ----92%
Ticket Floor ----100%
Lumphinee Station
Station Roof ----100%
Ticket Floor ----100%
Bon Kai Station
Station Roof ----100%
Ticket Floor ----100%
Queen Sirikit Station
Station Roof ----100%
Ticket Floor ----100%
Sukhumvit Station
Station Roof ----97%
Ticket Floor ----100%
Phetburi Station
Station Roof ----99%
Ticket Floor ----98%
Rama IX Station
Station Roof ----91%
Ticket Floor ----100%
Stairways ----100%
Ventilation System ----50%

Station Foundation Works of Northern Section
Tiam Ruam Mit Station
Station Roof ----100%
Ticket Floor ----Not Done yet
Passenger Floor ----97%
4 Stairways ----Not Done yet
Pracharat Bumphen Station
Station Roof ----100%
Ticket Floor ----100%
Passenger Floor 100%
Tunnel at Huay Kwang Intersection
Digging Tunnel ----41%
Concrete Work ----38%
Suthisarn Station
Station Roof ----92%
Ticket Floor ----100%
Passenger Floor ----100%
Tunnel at Suthisarn Intersection
Digging Tunnel ----45%
Concrete Work ----38%
Ratchada Station
Station Roof ----100%
Ticket Floor ----100%
Passenger Floor ----100%
Lad Phrao Station
Station Roof ----100%
Ticket Floor ----100%
Passenger Floor ----100%
4 Stairways ----Not Done yet
Phahol Yothin Station
Station Roof ----100%
Ticket Floor ----100%
Passenger Floor ----100%
5 Stairways ----Not Done yet
Mochit Station
Station Roof ----100%
Ticket Floor ----100%
Passenger Floor ----85%
Platform Floor ----91%
2 Stairways ----Not Done Yet
Tunnel to go across Phahol Yothin Rd. ----Not Done yet
Kamphaengphet Station
Station Roof ----Not Done yet
Ticket Floor ----Not Done yet
Passenger Floor ----91%
3 Stairways ----Not Done Yet
Bangsue Station
Station Roof ----100%
Ticket Floor ----100%
Passenger Floor ----100%
2 Stairways ----Not Done Yet
Ventilation System on Footpaths ----Not Done yet
Ventilation System on the Middle Islets ----100%
5 Ventilation Chimneys ----Not Done yet

December 2000
Updates from Thai Newspapers

Reducing BMTA buses running parallel to the subway
Thairath Daily, December 11, 2000
     Mr. Praphat Jong-sanguan, MRTA Director, said MRTA has hired Mushell Co. Ltd. as a consultant company to study the system connecting the MRTA Blueline with other modes of public mass transit with an expenditure of 70 million baht and an 18-month study period.  The company started its work last September.  Now the consultants are studying the details of the connecting systems including BTSC Skytrain since OCMLT made a new estimation that the daily passenger of MRTA blue would be about 300,000 passengers a day instead of the previous estimation of 400,000 passengers a day.  Without good connecting systems, the MRTA will have serious problems. The company will finish the preliminary report in
January 2001 and MRTA will use this preliminary report to discuss with other relating bureaus.
     Mr. Wijit Wacharin, MRTA Deputy of Planning and Development Engineering, said it is necessary to readjust the bust routes. If the bus routes run parallel to MRTA for more than 10 stations, the bus routes must be readjusted to prevent the wasteful competition.  After the preliminary discussion with BMTA, both MRTA and BMTA agreed to readjust the parallel routes.
     Mr. Pheeraphongse Issaraphakdee, BMTA Director, said he agrees in principle to readjust the routes if BMTA buses run parallel to MRTA Blue line for more than 10 stations. However, he does not mean that BMTA will eliminate those bus routes since passengers would never accept this due to the fact that bus tickets are much cheaper than subway tickets. The BMTA director told the MRTA director that route readjustment means the improvement of the connecting system. The subway entries should allow buses to park nearby to facilitate the exchange of passengers in a hassle-free manner. BTSC Skytrain does not allow BMTA buses to park nearby the stairs causing lots of hassle and cutting down many potential Skytrain passengers.
     Commentary: It would be much easier for BMTA to move the bus to closed to the Skytrain and Subway entries than moving the stairs to BMTA bus stops.

Installing telecommunication network before opening subway services to allow using mobile phone use in tunnels
Dailynews, December 13, 2000
        Mr. Praphat Jong-sanguan, MRTA Director, said mobile phone concession holders came to discuss with MRTA since lots of people feel worried that they cannot use mobile phones inside a tunnel 20 meters below ground level.  MRTA said there is no need to worry since MRTA is going to make a detailed discussion with mobile phone companies and BMCL Co. Ltd. about the installation of special signal receivers/transmitters allowing the mobile phone users to use their phones inside the tunnel.
        Mr. Praphat said the BMCL Co. Ltd. has to install special equipment to allow the radio communications between the police during emergencies inside the tunnel and the installation of telecommunication special systems must be done by December 2002 for the Northern section and the whole system by July 2003.

MRTA tunnel will be done by the end of February 2001
Thairath Daily, Saturday, November 18, 2000
       Mr. Praphat Jongsa-nguan, MRTA director, said that MRTA has nearly finished the tunnel construction. The first drill of the last section from Samyan station to Hua Lamphong station will be done on December 30, 2000 and the second drill of the section will be done on February 25, 2001.
       The MRTA Director said the contractor have to dig Mahanakhon intersection to transport the equipment before digging the last section and remove the drills after finishing the construction. Therefore, it is necessary to make a detour from November 18, 2000 to March 10, 2001.
      Commentary: We hope that the next government will make an immediate approval for the Southern extension and the contractor who will handle this job for MRTA.

October 2000
Updates from Thai Newspapers

MRTA and BMCL select Alstorm-Mitsubishi as the producer of rolling stock for the MRTA Blue Line subway
Dailynews, BMA Section, September 8, 2000

        At 4:30 PM on September 7, Mr. Prapaht Jong Sa-Nguan (MRTA Director) and Mr. Plew Treewitsawawet (CEO of Ch. Karnchang PCL) announced to the press that they have selected NESCO Co. Ltd., a Franco-Japanese consortium consisting of Mitsubishi Corporation, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, and Alstorm Transports, as the provider of rolling stock to be used on MRTA Blue Line. The ambassadors of France and Japan came to MRTA to witness this announcement.
       Mr. Plew said Ch. Karnchang has selected NESCO Co. Ltd. since the company offered the best deal in financial terms, financial security, technical issues, maintenance, and quality assurance with its 16 billion baht budget. NESCO will become 49% shareholder of BMCL.
       Mr. Plew said that BMCL was studying in detail BTS passengers to obtain marketing data since the company has seen that Skytrain carries much fewer passengers than expected. Nevertheless, MRTA will offer a lower fare to attract more passengers. Furthermore, MRTA will use a marketing campaign with a 15% lower fare during the first months or even the first year of subway service (December 2002-December 2003).
       Extensions are a very critical issue to boost the number of passengers which requires strong and steady support from the government.
     Commentary: The discount during the first year of service is a must indeed!  I hope that NESCO won't make the same blunder with vending machines that Siemens did. The vending machines supplied by NESCO should accept 1-baht coins as well as 20 and 50-baht bills so passengers don't have to bother making change.

Still More September 2000 Updates from Thai Newspapers

MRTA Going Forward for Subway Southern Extension
Gives a chance for BMCL to get the Extension Concession
Dailynews, Bangkok Metro Section, August 28, 2000

     MRTA is going forward for the southern extension, waiting for the message from the Priority Allocation Committee set up by Dr. Trairong. At the same time, MRTA has a meeting with BMCL to discuss the plan to award the extension concession to BMCL with a compromise that BMCL must buy more rolling stock and freeze the fare rate at 14 to 38 baht level.
     Mr. Praphat Jong Sa-Nguan, MRTA director, spoke about about ACM Sombun's bad rap that MRTA would have to follow the steps set by the law (actually budget constrains) by shortening the Southern extension to Hualamphong-Tha Phra route. However, OCMLT suggested that MRTA should extend to Bang Waek, 2 km more and total of 6 km so MRTA can connect with other mass transit systems at the proposed Taksin Center. MRTA is waiting for a consideration from the Priority Allocation Committee set up by Dr. Tairong Suwannakhiree, Deputy PM. If the committee approves their proposal, MRTA will forward the proposal to the Traffic Management and eventually the cabinet to approve the construction.
     Mr. Praphat said more about the extension plan that the Southern extension would go from Hua Lamphong, pass the Yaowarat area and Wang Boorapha area (Bangkok Chinatown and Bangkok Old Trade Center respectively) which had limited space. Therefore, the single tunnel with 2 levels is a must since it is impossible to construct a double tunnel in the same way as Bangsue-Hua Lamphong route (except at Silom Station) has done. Furthermore, it requires a single tunnel with 2 levels across Chao Phraya River before going aboveground after passing Tha Phra Intersection.
    Therefore, the budget reduction for this extension is very tough, if not impossible, to do due to the demanding tasks to be carried out. MRTA demands 40 billion baht budget for civil engineering work for this extension. The budget structure is the same old 80% from public for structure construction and the other 20% from private for rolling stock and services. For the concession, MRTA will simply ask BMCL to buy more rolling stocks and freeze the fare rate at 14-38 baht to boost the number of passengers due to expanding network.
     Commentary: MRTA's hitting the nail on the head! At least, this state enterprise has done the right thing to expand southward even though it has to wait for approvals from many agencies and eventually the cabinet. However, MRTA should quickly gain R & D to enable the agency (and the contractors) to be able to dig underground tunnels and lay subway tracks so it can make a joint venture with SRT to dig subway tracks linking all 3 railway terminals in Bangkok (Hua Lamphong, Bangkok Noy, and Wongwian Yai) together to turn Bangkok into SEA transport hub.

September 2000
Updates from Thai Newspapers

Mass Transit Systems to Work with MRTA Subway
Daily News, BMA Section, August 24, 2000

    MRTA spending 70 million baht to hire a consultant to analyze a plan to adjust all mass transit systems to connect with the subway after the full operation begins in 2003. The analytical study will be completed in 14 months.
     Mr. Praphat Jongsa-nguan, the MRTA director said that MRTA had just signed a contract to hire Mushell Co. Ltd. to work as a consultant for a study to connect MRTA with other mass transit systems (actually other modes of land transportation) such as BMTA buses, Microbus, taxi cabs, Skytrain, trains, and so on. The budget for this analytical study is 70 million baht paid by JBIC. The study will start on September 1, 2000 and it will take 14 months to complete. During the study period the consultant will report to MRTA from time to time.
     Mr. Praphat said the study details will emphasize on the rerouting of BMTA bus lines to prevent them from competing with the MRTA subway since the MRTA fare is higher than the best BMTA buses (14-38 baht for MRTA Blue Line vs. 8-18 baht for BMTA Euro-2 Air-conditioned buses). Without the rerouting of BMTA buses, MRTA will have a huge loss causing detrimental effects on other mass transit projects.
     Commentary: It's about time for MRTA, BTSC, BMTA, and OCMLT to discuss the plan to connect and enable the passengers to use tickets to ride Euro-2 Air-conditioned buses and then ride Skytrain and/or MRTA and vice versa. If the SRT successfully revives the Hopewell project in 2007, another readjustment should be under consideration. I hope that SRT will be able to revive Hopewell project so the line will be the main mass transit route if Thailand is to become a successful Olympic host in 2008. Otherwise, we have to wait until around 2020 to compete for a Olympic host again.

Sombun Fed Up with Chuan
Daily News, August 22, 2000
      On August 21, 2000 at MRTA Office, there was the 8th year anniversary ceremony for the MRTA establishment, which Air Marshall Sombun Rahong, Ministry of the Prime Minister Office, takinf charge of MRTA oversight.
      Air Marshall Sombun spoke to MRTA officers and contractors during the ceremony and at one point he rapped about Chuan government: "This [Chuan] government pays no attention to the poor and powerless but takes a great care of the rich and powerful! This government is a totally stupid.... government.... [that] sells the nation off to foreign imperialists since the government deliberately neglects the mass transit system while other nations always take a great care with their mass transit systems. No private sectors dare to invest in the mass transit systems since they don't want to see their companies become bankrupt like BTSC! Well, it sounds like I am blaming myself since I'm a part of this.... foolish government. I tried so hard to prevent the cabinet from making stupid decisions [like rejecting the MRTA subway extension plan], but they failed to hear my voice!"
     Air Marshall Sombun told the corespondents the construction the MRTA Blue line ran very well but it became impossible to finish the Northern Extension (Bangsue-Phra Nanaklao Bridge) by 2004 and the Southern Extension (Hua Lamphong-Bang Kae) by 2005 since Chuan and the Democrat cronies refused to acknowledge the critical matters of the MRTA extension, thus they rejected the budget proposal for the MRTA extensions.
      Air Marshall Sombun agreed with Samak's plan to extend the Skytrain and he wants the fare rate lowered so it does not drive away the potential customers. He also said Samak knows so many people--politicians and bureaucrats alike--and knows that he can stretch the extensions as far as he wants. MRTA has no such a man so MRTA cannot extend as long as it wants. Therefore, MRTA has to beg the upcoming government to approve the extensions since Chuan government ran out of time.

August 2000
Updates from Thai Newspapers

Subway deal quietly pushed through
Concession terms fiercely criticised
Supoj Wancharoen, Bangkok Post, August 2, 2000
      The Metropolitan and Rapid Transit Authority yesterday signed a multi-billion-baht subway concession contract with Bangkok Metro Co Ltd. The signing was conducted quietly at the MRTA headquarters with PM's Office Minister ACM Somboon Rahong, Ch Karnchang Plc chairman Plew Trivisavavet and board members from the two firms present.
      "That might be to avoid political criticism because the project involves huge investment and has been under strong attacks over its transparency in implementation. Also, the cabinet had rejected the contract several times," an MRTA source said.
      Chart Pattana ministers strongly opposed the contract saying BMCL's 11.7-billion-baht contribution to the state over 25 years was too low and its fare rate of 14-36 baht was too high.
      BMCL deputy managing director Sompodh Sripoom said his firm was about to choose a subway train supplier and that it was negotiating with four companies on four criteria: finance, technology, shareholding in BMCL and after-sale service.
      BMCL wants a loan from its supplier and the candidates will propose loans in different currencies, he said.
      He said the train suppliers were in contact for over a year and denied JBIC, a major creditor, was pressuring it to pick up the Japanese supplier.
      He said the supplier could be chosen in the next few months and that part of the 20km subway, from Hua Lampong to Bang Sue, could open in late 2002 with the full service opened in 2003.
      The interested suppliers were the Alsthom Group of France with a euro-and-yen loan of 19,036 million baht from the French Coface export credit agency; the Bombardier Group of Canada with a US-dollar loan of 19,321 million baht from Export Development Corp of Canada; Germany's Siemens Group with a euro loan of 26,045 million baht from KfW; and the JMC Group from Japan with a yen loan of 16,888 million baht from Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

June 2000
Updates from Thai Newspapers

Proposal to extend subway rejected - MRTA told B40bn estimate too high
Supoj Wancharoen - Bangkok Post, May 22, 2000
        A government committee overseeing mega transport projects has rejected a proposal by the Metropolitan Rapid Transit Authority to spend 40 billion baht to extend the "blue line" subway currently under construction to Tha Phra.
        Committee sources said the MRTA came under heavy criticism for trying to push through the proposal at Friday's sitting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Bhichai Rattakul. The committee felt the proposed cost for the 6.4-km extension of the underground railway was too high.
        MRTA gave a breakdown of its proposed investment as: 27 billion baht for design and civil work, three billion baht for land expropriation, six billion baht for electrical installations and four billion baht for other expenses.
        ACM Somboon Rahong, deputy prime minister supervising the MRTA, led other committee members in expressing reservations over the cost.
        He said the figure was too high and the proposed budget for design and construction could be cut by at least 20%, the sources said.
        Kamroplak Surasawadee, deputy director of the mega-project office, supported ACM Somboon's view.
        He said it cost MRTA 24 billion baht to build half of the 20-km Hua Lamphong-Bang Sue subway, known as the blue line.
        The proposed cost of the extension could be cut by 25%, he was quoted as saying.
        A Finance Ministry's representative on the committee suggested that MRTA have talks with the National Economic and Social Development Board to set a priority for the proposed extension in comparison with other traffic projects.
        The existing ceiling on the volume of foreign loans which MRTA can raise should also be discussed to avoid exacerbating the country's foreign debt.
        MRTA director Prapat Chongsa-nguan defended his proposal. He said the government should not be too concerned with the size of the investment but should look at the economic return the project could offer.
        Compared to the economic loss caused by traffic jams, the project was a worthwhile investment.
        The cost of the proposed extension was high because a section would have to pass under the Chao Phraya river.
        His explanation failed to convince the committee.
        Mr Prapat was asked to review his proposal and then resubmit it to the committee, the sources said.
        MRTA also plans a northern extension of the blue line subway.

Pathway designs to connect MRTA and BTSC together have been completed
Dailynews, May 8, 2000
        MRTA has finished designing pathways to connected MRTA and BTSC together - with a reserved area for BTSC to construct pathways along the rails later on.
        MRTA director Mr. Praphat Jong Sa-Nguan told the press that MRTA has finished the pathway design for the connection at Silom station (MRTA). MRTA will have to use footpaths and road surfaces around Silom Road to install escalators from the ground levels to the station, and it will take three months to remove infrastructure before the installation of escalators can begin.  After that the MRTA will erect pillars to support the construction and install a flyover from Dusit Thanee to Robinson Department Store.  There is no suitable area to construct connecting pathways from Chulalongkorn Hospital even though there is no problem finding an area to construct a flyover from Dusit Thanee to Lumphinee Park.

MRTA Blue Line from Huay Kwang to Bangsue will be opened first
Thaipost, May 22, 2000
        MRTA director Prapat Chongsa-nguan said that the construction of stations and tunnel is 62.09% complete. The Hua Lamphong to Huay Kwang section has finished 66.83% of all work: the main structure of all 9 stations in this section is done and now MRTA is working on internal construction and the stairways. The tunnel digging is 51.17% complete for the Southern section (7.628 km dug of 14.908 km) - Rama IX to Sukhumvit section and Queen Sirikit National Convention Center to Lumphinee section are dug. Now, MRTA is digging the tunnel from Sukhumvit to Queen Sirikit National Convention Center and Lumphinee to Silom.
      The Northern Section is 57.35% complete. The main structures of almost all 9 stations are done.  MRTA is constructing ventilating rooms at the stairways. The tunnel in this section is 66.93% complete (12.121 km dug of 18.110 km) - Tiam Ruammit to Suthisarn, Ratchada to Phaholyothin, and Bangsue to Kamphaengphet are dug and Suthisarn to Ratchada finished on May 17, 2000. MRTA is going to dig from Mochit to Phaholyothin and open the Northern section (Huay Kwang to Bangsue) in July 2002 and open all sections in July 2003.

May 2000
Updates from Thai Newspapers

MRTA Proposes Southern Extension to the Cabinet and Talks with NESDB to Clear the Hurdles that Delay the Project
     Recently NESDB considered megaproject investments--80 projects so far--and created three classifications:
     (1) Projects with the highest priority
     (2) Projects with the secondary priority
     (3) Approved projects with some management problems--10 projects--including the 70 billion baht project to extend the MRTA Blue Line from Bangsue to Phranangklao Bridge
     Mr. Praphat Jongsa-nguan, director of MRTA, said he didn't feel sure if the news from NESDB about suspending the MRTA extension projects follows the facts since MRTA Blue Line cannot become profitable without northern and southern extensions and the cabinet has already approved the construction of northern extension of the Blue Line.
     Mr. Praphat said MRTA will send the guidelines concerning the construction of the Southern extension from Hua Lamphong to Tha Phra (a section from Hua Lamphong to Bang Khae) to the cabinet for the approval. MRTA said the guidelines had been approved by the Large Transportation Management Subcommittee and still need cabinet approval to become effective.
     Nevertheless, MRTA may send the plan back to the NESDB to discuss the financial viability of this project.
     The project is indeed expensive--even the expenditure for laying tracks (25km) will cost 40 billion baht (US$1.1 billion). 10 billion baht (US$ 250-300 million) for the Northern extension (11.5km) and 30 billion baht (US$750-800 billion) for the southern extension (13.5km).
(from Manager Daily, May 1, 2000)

Tunnel Digging to Connect BTSC and MRTA - Police Worrying about Traffic Jam During the Construction
    There was a discussion about the construction of underground tunnels to connect BTSC and MRTA at Mochit and Civil Aviation Dept. on April 25, 2000 at Metropolitan Police HQ. The proposed tunnel will be 120 m long and go along Phaholyothin and Kampahengphet Road. Construction will start on April 28, 2000 and be finished around mid-July. The construction will consume 3 lanes of road. Police said they feel so worried about traffic jam during the rush hour--especially the outbound lanes of Kampahengphet Road. They will resolve the problem by using reversible lanes--turning two inbound lanes to two outbound lanes. The inbound will be jammed from June 20-July 12 since the left side of the BTSC line will have one lane left. Therefore, the police ask drivers to use Vibhavadee Highway and Rama VI Road instead of Phaholyothin.
    BMTA will also have to rearrange local bus stops as follows:
1) Cancel the temporary bus stop at the corner of Chatuchak park and use Chatuchak Weekend market stop and that opposite of TMB Bank from April 28 to June 3
2) Cancel the temporary bus stop at the corner of Chatuchak Weekend Market and use Chatuchak Park stop and that opposite of TMB Bank from June 3 to June 13
3) Cancel the temporary bus stop at the corner of Chatuchak park and use Chatuchak Weekend market stop and that opposite of TMB Bank from June 14 to June 19
4) Use all 3 bus stops from July 3 to 12
(from Daily News, April 26, 2000)

MRTA and BKT Meeting for the Tunnel Discussion
    Royal Treasure Department, the owner of Mochit land, will discuss with MRTA and BKT (Bangkok Terminal Co. Ltd.) land usage for the construction of tunnels connecting the Skytrain and MRTA. MRTA warns the Treasure Department that they will cancel the tunnel project unless MRTA is allowed to use the Mochit area within a month.
    MRTA told the reporters that the construction of Mochit station (in Chatuchak Park) is nearly finished and the proposed tunnel will end up in the Bangkok Terminal area - 6 m from the footpath. Unless the tunnel construction begins within this month, the contractor will have to wait and the MRTA will have to pay the workers even though there is no work to do.  If the Treasury Department allows MRTA to work in the area, the tunnel construction will begin immediately.
(from Daily News, April 27, 2000)

April 2000
Updates from Thai Newspapers

Police Concerned About Blind Spots in Subway Stations
        The Metropolitan Police report their concerns about telecommunication blind spots in subway stations.  They said they cannot use their radios to communicate with police stations nearby or even with police HQ from the subway stations. These communication blind spots will interfere with police ability to track down criminals and assist crime victims  - a very serious problem indeed!
        Thus far, MRTA and the Police Department have no solutions for the telecommunication blind spots yet.  IMHO, MRTA will have to install antenna in every station as well as in the tunnels to enable police as well as passengers to communicate with their comrades in other places (from Thai Post Daily, April 4, 2000).

Subway Operator Chosen
    The Cabinet has approved BMCL (Bangkok Metro Co. Ltd., Subsidiary of Ch. Karnchang PCL) to become the private operator of MRTA blue line despite strong protests from the Chart Patthana Party. However, it is up to Office of the Attorney General to scrutinize the deal and return the contract to the cabinet for final approval.
    If the official contract is signed, Ch. Karnchang will definitely choose Japan Metro Consortium as its partner in developing the subway since Japan Metro proposed the lowest price and offered the best financing terms of the four bidders. Also, Japan Metro has the best technology and design and the German bidder (Siemens) could not compete in terms of speed or electricity efficiency.
    Those bidding for the partnership with Ch Karnchang were:
1) Japan Metro (16.88 billion baht)
2) Alstom Transport and Mitsubishi Electric (19.036 billion)
3) Canada's Bombardier (19.32 billion)
4) Siemens (26.045 billion)
(from Thai Post and Bangkok Post)

March 2000
Updates from Thai Newspapers

        Presently, we are waiting until there is a final solution to the conflicts between the BMCL (a private firm with Ch. Karnchang as the major shareholder) or MRTA (State Enterprise of the Prime Minister's office) - about who will buy trains and run the services. This conflict also has caused a bit of a political rift between the Democrats and Chart Phatthana parties since Chart Phathana said that Ch. Karnchang paid less than what the TOR states in the contract (10 billion baht from Ch. Karnchang vs. 24 billion baht from TOR) and the fare is higher than what the TOR said (15-38 baht with inflation adjusted for Ch. Karnchang vs. 14-36 baht with the ceiling of a 4% hike in the TOR). The cabinet has to set up a committee to negotiate with Ch. Karnchang so they can find a compromise for all parties involved in this project. If negotiation fails, it will become necessary to call for a new bid or the government will have to take over the whole project so they can control the fare rate even though it would be counter to the privatization trend.
        After that, we'll have to wait to see who will be the supplier for the MRTA trains, Siemens (German firm) or Kawasaki (Japanese firm). Siemens has an edge--it would be much easier to integrate the fare and car system with BTS Skytrain even though Ch. Karnchang prefers the Japanese firm which would cost 4-5 billion baht less than Siemens. from Thai Post Daily, January 18-21, 2000
        The third hurdle for MRTA is to have a fare to satisfy the firm who will run the subway as well as Bangkokians. The BTS Skytrain fare rate problems should give MRTA and the would-be subway operators some lessons to ponder.

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