Bangkok Subway News 2001-2004

Complete details of 2 new subway lines and 2 new extensions - Thaipost, November 11, 2004 and Prachachart Thurakij, November 15, 2004

Opening the connecting escalators between Subway and Skytrain - translated and summarized from Manager Online, October 28, 2004
MOTC Minister Suriya has come to open the connecting escalators between Subway and Skytrain at Asok Station at 9am on October 28, 2004. This has been built by MRTA. This facility has to be built since 95% of those who go out of Sukhumvit Subway station are heading to ride the Skytrain.
Minister Suriya said MRTA should build more connecting viaducts. MRTA Governor said they are going to open another connection at Silom by the end of 2004.

Subway temporarily out of service due to fire extinguisher leak - translated and summarized from Manager Online, October 28, 2004
Many subway passengers including the newscasters from Channel 3 complained about the broken down subway--it went out of service from 5am to 7:20am.
MRTA said this is due to a leak in fire extinguisher in the subway tunnel so the power supply had to be shut down to repair the tube while closing traffic from Hua Lamphong to Lumphinee and running the system only one way.

Subway passengers short of target - translated and summarized from Dailynews, September 11, 2004
BMCL told the press that after introducing the first year rate, the number of passenger is down to an average 150,000 passengers a day from the target of 240,000 even though the revenue is slightly down since the passengers generally go a long way (average about 20 baht/trip).
The reason for the lower number of passengers is that many still have no clue at about about the subway route as well as the gate to go out. More PR effort is in need. Furthermore, many passengers turn to the 300 baht smart card (deposit 50 baht and actually rides 250 baht). The ratio between smart card to token is 40:60 compared to 30:70 in the early days of the subway. Even so, BMCL will make a PR effort to strongly encourage passengers to use smart cards which can be used for more than five years without replacement.
The new promotion will come out of BMCL to boost the number of passengers, but it needs the approval from the Board of Directors.
[Comment and criticism about Subway can be seen here.]

Maintaining the subway/Why few handgrips?/How many sets running? - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, August 21, 2004
BMCL said the maintenance center service has to be separated from BMCL since the subway maintenance requires special skills from experts. So far, BMCL has to pay Siemens (Thailand) 800,000 baht a day for 10 years to keep the subway rolling stock well-maintained--according to the contract with Siemens. Siemens has to keep a close watch on the spare part procurement to prevent fraud from poor quality spare parts supplied by crooked suppliers.
The major overhaul of subway rolling stock will come on the 6th-7th year of services.
Furthermore BMCL has made four seven-year contracts to keep the system well-functioned:
1) Northern tunnels and stations: Wire & Wireless
2) Southern tunnels and stations: Taing Hong Silom
3) Escalators & elevators: Worachak International
4) Huay Kwang Depot: Ch. Karnchang PCL
If the subway system goes out of order, it must be fixed in 5 minutes while the turnstile have to be repaired in 30 minutes. Spare instruments must be ready to replace the broken one. The fine for any delay is 10% of the contract price.
There are 18 subway sets running while one set is a spare (from total 19 sets). Each day, the subway must run 9000 km (450 trips - for the case of 3 minute 45 second headway).
BMCL has 50 maintenance officers while Siemens has supplied 180 maintenance officers and the rest (from 400 maintenance officer) are dealing with the structure. Those maintenance center must stay inside the stations and subway sets to be ready for any emergency.
All the screen doors (12 in each station) open a total 400,000 times a day and they are allowed to go out of order only less than 40 times a day.
Broken aircon is a major complain from subway passengers.
There is a reason why BMCL is asking Siemens not to install overhead handles near the doors of the subway cars. BTS has told BMCL that many Skytrain passengers have a bad habit to stand around the Skytrain doors instead of going inside--a bad habit they kept from riding BMTA buses. Therefore, BMCL is asking Siemens not to install any hand rails at the Subway doors.
Sukhumvit Station has the most passenger (40,000 passengers a day), followed by Silom, Phaholyothin, and Lad Phrao respectively.
Monday has the least passengers for the subway (180,000 passengers a day) and it will climb up on Tuesday (nearly 200,000 passengers a day) and Friday has the most passengers (240,000 passengers a day) during weekdays.
On weekends, Chatuchak Station will have the largest number of passengers followed by Lad Phrao, Kamphaengphet, and Queen Sirikit Center.
BTS (Skytrain) carries 300,000 passengers a day while BMCL carry 200,000 passengers a day and BTS has an additional 5-6000 passengers from the subway at Sukhumvit Station.
BTSC and BMCL will eventually have to come up with a joint Smart Card ticket which can be used for both systems, but both companies have to negotiate with their creditors first. This is very critical for BTS since it is required to change the ticket system from the magnetic version to Smart Card system.
Subway has already come up with 5 headway for each period of the day:
1. 6am-9am: 18 set with 3 minute 45 seconds headway (rush hour)
2. 9am-4:30pm: 14 sets with 5 minute headway (non rush hour)
3. 4:30pm-7:30pm: 18 set with 3 minute 45 seconds headway (rush hour)
4. 7:30pm-9:00pm: 14 sets with 5 minute headway (non rush hour)
5. 9pm-midnight: 10 sets with 7 minute headway (late night)

MRTA donating 89.5 million baht to Their Majesties - MOTC talking with BMCL to come up with discounts - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, August 17, 2004
MRTA is going to donate 89.5 million baht gained during the special period of the subway opening (July 3 - August 12 which offered a 10 baht flat rate) to Their Majesties. The statistics during this period are:
Average number of daily passengers: 200,000 passengers (weekdays)/250,000 passengers (weekends)
Average revenue - 2 million baht a day
The maximum number of passengers: July 10, 2004 -> 262,794 passengers
The minimum number of passengers: July 3, 2004 (7:19am - 11pm) -> 45,112 passengers
Total Revenue -> 89,572,892 baht
The first year rate of 12-31 baht/trip and the regular rate of 14-36 baht/trip will result in a 50% decrease in the number of passengers. Therefore, MOTC is going to ask BMCL to come up with a discount offered to frequent passengers to create an incentive to use the Subway since the price hike has a detrimental effect on the number of passengers. The 10 baht-flat rate has generated daily revenue of 2 million baht.
MRTA is also speeding up the bidding plan for massive expansion so as to start new construction by the end of July 2005.

Alternate subway car design and stamps - August 14, 2004
Above is a rendering of a Mitsubishi-Alstrom version of the subway (Siemens eventually ended up making the cars) in front of Wat Arun.
Right is a Malaysian stamp honoring the KL light rail trains. We wonder when mass transit will appear on a Thai stamp.
UPDATE: There is a Thai subway stamp that was released on August 12 (below). They are being sold at the subway part and ride at the Lat Prae Station.
UPDATE: About the subway stamp here.


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Passengers plummet turning busy Silom Station into a ghost station - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, August 13, 2004
After the subway fare hike to 12 to 31 baht, the number passengers plummeted. Even busy Silom Station has become virtually a ghost station.
MRTA Governor told the press that the actual impact after the fare hike will take a about a month to be seen due to the long weekend. However, MRTA has already predicted that the number of passenger will decrease by 20%
After the test run period (July 3-August 12), the average daily number of passengers is about 250,000 passengers a day - 200,000 passengers on the weekdays and 240,000-260000 passengers during the weekends.

Thai-language forums & the subway fare increase - August 14, 2004
Commentary on what's going on in Thai-language forums:
There is varied opinion about a subway fair hike. Some cry foul since they got benefits from the cheap subway fare while others say: "That's a good way to filter out those bumpkins and slum dwellers from messing around in the Subway system."
Some said our BTS and Subway are really clean compared with the dirty NY subway and they even point out the narrow mentalities of those who give a baseless opinion that subways outside of Thailand must be better even though it is actually not always the case.
Some also point out Seoul Subway (started in 1971 and expanded at a very impressive rate - nearly rivaled the Tokyo subway in a very short time) which has very fair ticket rates even though they did not recognize that both companies which run the Seoul subway are still deep in debt due to the decreasing numbers of those who live in Seoul and the vicinity.
Therefore, the new railway lines and LRT to feed the Seoul Subway systems are in demand along with a plan to merge both companies to cut down the redundancy. This is despite strong protests from the Subway Union which compels the government to ask the Armed Forces to run the subway during the strikes.
Some even trade their own venomous opinions with one another - a usually habit of Thai netters. Full opinions about Subway fair hike can be seen here and here.
In my opinion, BMCL better learn from BTSC by issuing the 1-day pass, 3-day pass, 7-day pass and 30-day pass and coordinate with BTSC about smart card system installation to tap more passengers from BTSC who previously cannot go where the Subway goes (Bangsue, Lad Phrao, Chatuchak Weekend Market, Phra Ram 9, Bangsue Railway Station, Queen Sirikit center, Lumphinee etc etc). However, they have to wait until the full rate has been applied to come up with the new things.

All quiet underground as subway prices go up - TNA, August 13, 2004
Fears that the end of promotional pricing on Bangkok's new underground train line would see a sudden drop in passenger numbers were confirmed today, as passengers spurned the subway on the first day of the new pricing regime.
The message from the public could not have been clearer: flat fares of Bt10 were acceptable, while the new fare structure, with an initial price of Bt12 plus Bt2 for each additional station, were not...

Subway ticket price controversy - August 12, 2004
[Ed.: We suspected this was going to happen...]
Subway company refuses to keep down ticket prices - TNA, August 11, 2004
A bitter row has developed between the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) and the company responsible for running Bangkok’s new underground train system, with the latter refusing to keep fares stable at Bt10 until the current oil crisis eases.
During talks yesterday with MRTA governor Praphas Chongsa-nguan, Bangkok Metro Company Limited (BMCL) CEO Sombat Kitchalak refused to accede to requests to maintain the promotional flat fare of Bt10, remaining adamant that fares would rise after 12 August.
The fare increases will mean an initial fare of Bt12, with Bt2 for each additional stop.
Mr. Sombat noted that the fare increases were laid out in the contract between the MRTA and BMCL, and that the fares already represented a 15 percent cut on the fares that will be introduced after the first year of operation.
Stressing that the government was heavily subsidising the promotional fares, he said that BMCL already has operational costs of around Bt4 million per day.
However, his insistence was countered by Mr. Praphas’s warning that the fare rise on 12 August would lead to a sharp drop in the 200,000 people currently using the service on an average day, with passenger numbers down by as much as 20 percent.


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Air quality sampling unit - July 31, 2004
Air quality sampling unit at Suthisarn Station (right). An earlier photo of one of the units at a Skytrain station.

Too few subway passengers - translated and summarized from Siam Turakij, August 1-7, 2004
[As usual, the columnists in Siam Turakij are bashing the subway.]

MRTA is surveying areas around Bangkok, Thonburi and Nonthaburi for new subway lines - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, July 27, 2004
MRTA is surveying the areas for three new lines and extensions:

1) Blue Ring - Blue Line (Hua Lamphong - Bang Khae, Bangsue - Charansanitwongse - Tha Phra)

1.1) Blue Line - 14 km (5 km underground and 9 km elevated) - 10 stations passing Charoen Krung, Yaowaraj, Wang Boorapha , Wat Pho, Pakklong Talad, Bangkok Yai, Phetkasem and Bang Khae

1.2) Blue Ring - 13 km all elevated (Bangsue - Charansnitwongse - Tha Phra) 7 stations passing to Bangsue, Pracharat, Charangsanitwongse, Tha Phra

2) Orange Line (Bang Kapi - Bang Bumru) -24 km - 21 km underground and 3 km elevated 17 stations passing Bang Kapi, Lum Salee, Ramkhamhaeng, Din Daeng, Victory Monument, Dusit Zoo, Sam Sen, Krungthon Bridge, and Bang Bumru

3) Purple Line (Bangyai - Ratboorana) - 40 km - 14 km underground and 26 km elevated - 30 stations passing Bang Yai, Rattnathibet, Phra Nanaklao Bridge, Kae Rai, Wongsawang, Tao Poon, Kiakkai, Sri Yan, Samsen, National Library, Bang Lumphoo, Phan Fah, Wang Boorapha, Wongwian Yai, Maihaisawan, Ratboorna.

Bashing the subway - July 21, 2004
Bloomberg has a pessimistic report on the Bangkok subway. It starts with a bit of lobbying from Paul Anderson, the COO of the Skytrain who hints that an extension of the mass transit system is necessary. The writer of the article apparently does not realize this is all a part of the Skytrain people fighting to keep control of the company as the government prevents them from extending the system.
Bangkok goes nowhere, faster - New subway fails to ease traffic jams as car sales burgeon - online - print, Bloomberg News, July 20, 2004
Bangkok's new $3.5 billion subway system will do little to ease traffic jams that increase fuel costs and create some of the world's worst air pollution, says Paul Anderson, who helps run the Thai capital's other mass-transit rail network.
"A 40-kilometer mass rapid transit system won't be of much help in a city that needs 300 kilometers," or about 186 miles, said Anderson, chief operating officer at Bangkok Mass Transit, which opened an elevated railway in 1999. "The number of car trips has been growing rapidly because of economic prosperity, so anything we remove is quickly replaced."...

Thai stories and web comments - July 21, 2004
Wisarut reports on what's going on in Thai-language forums:
Subway glitches
Some complain about the subway glitches since the have very high expectations, but others comment that even the Paris Metro has glitches... so it is normal (here, here, and here).

Details of the subway breakdown - July 19, 2004
Wisarut reports: BMCL-MRTA have fixed the broken signal and reopened Hua Lamphong and Sam Yan Stations at 6am on Saturday. I could see many passengers storming the subway stations as usual.
Another glitch was the loosened screws for the steel handles for Train No 1015, but this was fixed quickly. Probably due to either the rush of production as well as the sardine-canned passengers pulling the steel handing so often due to the shortage of handles available.

The opinions about the subway glitches (in Thai) are here, here, and here.
From the Bangkok Post: Subway suffers breakdown - Electrical fault, passengers safe - July 18, 2004
Bangkok's new subway system suffered its first breakdown on Friday when services between Hua Lamphong and Sam Yan stations were halted because of electrical failure...
"Three pieces of electric energy control equipment short-circuited, stopping the rail switching system from functioning," said Mr Prapas. "The train made an emergency stop at the nearest station as it was programmed to do so for the safety of the passengers."
The search for the electrical fault took around three hours, proving that the train's control mechanism was not to blame. At no time was public safety compromised because of the electrical failure, he said...

Also: Cute college students from Chulalongkorn U. on the subway (in Thai)

BMTA can smile--more revenue from subway feeder bus lines compensate any losses - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, July 14, 2004
After an investigation, BMTA found that even though the Subway has cut daily revenue from BMTA Bus line 136 (passing 12 subway stations) by 55,483 baht a day and Line 185 (passing 9 subway stations) by 21,834 baht a day, BMTA actually got 193,785 baht from the 18 subway feeder bus lines to 7 subway stations and 18 BMTA bus lines which pass subway stations. This has prompted BMTA to add more feeder bus lines directly to subway stations and boost revenue to BMTA.
Commentary: That is a good sign that BMTA has readjusted itself to live with the Subway. However, they have never readjusted for the Skytrain. Probably they will readjust once BTSC and BMCL have been merged into a single operator.

Subway revenue in 10 days reaches 20 million baht - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, July 13, 2004
Revenue from the first 10 days of the subway is reaching 20 million baht, with the target revenue on August 12 of 70 million baht. The daily average number of passengers is about 200,000 while the first week has the average number of passengers at 250,000 a day. All the revenue will be donated to Her Majesty for Royal Projects for the 72-year anniversary of Her Majesty. However, MRTA expects that the daily revenue will be down by 10-20% after the first year rates have been applied.
MRTA is going to improve the directional signs to make them more clear to the public and six additional TVMs will be installed for those single fare riders at Hua Lamphong station so as to deal with the rush-hour periods without problems.

MRTA insisting that the automatic door problems are not a big deal - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, July 13, 2004
After 3 weeks of service, MRTA found some problems in the sensors in the automatic doors which have to open and close 70,000 times a day for each set, and thus sensors can break down causing 1-2 minute delays. MRTA has asked Siemens (Thailand) to repair the damaged sensors. This is considered a minor problem and no harm to safety. So far, the average daily passengers is 190,000 a day during weekdays while the number of daily passengers has shot up to more than 200,000 a day during weekends.

What's on the Thai-language forums - July 8, 2004
Saigon vs Bangkok undergrounds
The comment about Saigon's underground LRT while criticizing heavy rail Bangkok Subway has drawn much criticism even though those cynics still thought that many people involved with the Bangkok Subway are very corrupt.
SRT criticized
Even though Railway gets more profit, they still under heavy criticism for slow and poor services.
Subway investment
Criticism of the government for not having full commitment to Subway expansion investment.
Thousands of subway posts
Thousands of Thai netters at travel page of Sanook.com have made comments and criticism on the new Bangkok Subway system:
http://travel.sanook.com/trip/trip_07661.php
http://travel.sanook.com/trip/trip_07662.php
http://travel.sanook.com/trip/trip_07663.php
http://travel.sanook.com/trip/trip_07664.php
http://travel.sanook.com/trip/trip_07665.php
http://travel.sanook.com/trip/trip_07666.php
http://travel.sanook.com/trip/trip_07667.php

Bangkok mass transit perspective - UPI, July 6, 2004
A reader points out this article with some interesting perspective on setting up mass transit in a big city and the consequences: ...This time there is only one line, which runs for a total of 21 kilometers on a broadly north-south axis, intersects with its older colleague/competitor at three points along the way. (Don't, though, expect to get from one to the other during the rainy season without a good soaking. Co-ordination is not among Thailand's most obvious talents.)
...Ever since January this year the Thai government has been subsidizing gasoline and (especially) diesel prices, at rates below $0.50/litre. The cumulative subsidy is now approaching $500 million. The result is that fuel efficiency is not a high priority in the mind of the average Thai driver.
Even more damaging to the prospects of mass-transit systems, perhaps, is the fact that congestion costs are not always high. Economists stress that the costs of traffic jams are not mainly in the fuel being burned to no good effect, but in the valuable time being wasted. If a businessman can only schedule two meetings a day, because he can't be sure whether it will take 15 minutes or two hours to get between appointments, his eight hour day is effectively cut to two. His productivity has been slashed.
That is as true in Bangkok as anywhere else -- but there is also a large floating population of workers who are paid at or near the legal minimum, whose time is (at least to their employers) dirt cheap. The least-skilled workers employed to dig the tunnels the new trains will use were paid just over $3 per day. At that rate, saving an hour's travel is worth only 40 cents. Although the subway's first-year concessionary pricing will make it just about competitive on that basis, it certainly isn't a sure-fire economic winner...
The second is often overlooked by the fans of public transport. In Europe, especially, road-building plans are often opposed on the grounds that making more roads makes more traffic. Build more roads, and you make it easier to get around. Make it easier to get around, and you encourage the demand for, and use of, cars. Which leads to more congestion, more demand for more roads, and so on.
True enough -- but much the same thing applies to public transport. Make it easier to get around the big city, and the city becomes a more attractive place to live and work. Some modern cities, with London a prime example, owe their shape today to the railway-building of the 19th century. There is no reason to believe that Bangkok will be any exception to the simple rule...


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Madhouse at Hua Lamphong - July 10, 2004
Excited crowds continue to pack Hua Lamphong Subway Station. Above is a photo from early Saturday morning as perhaps 500 people are lined up to buy tickets. Subway staff are trying to direct the crowds with bullhorns. Practically every elderly person is getting caught in the ticketing gates going in and out requiring assistance from the harried gate staff.

How do we know MRTA reads 2Bangkok.com? - July 10, 2004

Japanese-language Bangkok subway sites - July 10, 2004
Wisarut mined the web and found these Japanese language sites covering the Bangkok Subway:
Made in Thailand METRO page - New Thailand
Diary in Bangkok - Bangkok rail projects
Bangkok subway map - Eyewitness account of the subway opening

Stunning success for the subway - 7 million baht in 5 days - Ban Muang Daily, July 8, 2004

BMTA has revenue squeezed - Public Relations Department info posted on MThai, July 8, 2004

Stunning success for the Subway - 250,000 passengers in a single day - Prachachart Thurakij, July 7, 2004

Central Pattana to dig 500-meter tunnel to the subway - SRT cooperating with MRTA to modernize Bangsue Junction - Prachachart Thurakij, July 7-10, 2004

No further symbols for the rest of the stations - July 9, 2004

Questions on the subway photo ban and Skytrain ridership - July 9, 2004

Reiner writes: What do we know about the alleged ban on photography? I am sure, many people are taking photos, and I intend to do so. Are we all going to help increasing Bangkok's prison population?
One other thing that should raise concern is the effect on BTS of the 10-Baht flat fare. How fast is the Skytrain losing passengers, particularly between Asok and Mor Chit, and Asok/Silom-Saladaeng. Do you have any estimate or data? Is BTS taking laying down what surely must affect their economies?


Wisarut responds: According to regulations published in Royal Gazette, photography in Subway stations is actually restricted for security reasons. You have to get the permission from Subway officers to take a photo.
However, the Embassy of Japan has submitted a request to make a strict prohibition on taking photographs in the Phetburi Station because this station is too close to the Embassy of Japan. You see lots of police as well as subway security around the Embassy of Japan and in Phetburi Station and on Mitsamphan Bridge across Saen Saeb Canal.
After the Airport Link becomes a reality, the security at the new Makasan station (the main terminal for both Airport Express and Airport Link) may have to be tightened to the highest level possible.
So far, passengers who go in and go out of Saladaeng Skytrain Station has decreased since those passengers have turned to the Subway and exit at Silom Station instead.
On the other hand more passenger have been going in and out of Asok Skytrain Station due to much more convenient interchanges with Sukhumvit Subway Station. The same scenario (Asok/Sukhumvit) can be applied to Mochit/Chatuchak station.
Now, the number of Skytrain passengers is around 350,000-400,000 a day, but on July 4 the number of passengers dropped to 230,000 while the Subway have got 250,000 passengers that day. Therefore it is urgent for the Skytrain to construct the Samrong Extension (along with the Paknam extension) and the Taksin extension (along with Phetkasem extension) to double the number of passengers--especially after MRTA-BMCL introduces the 30-day passes to compete with the BTSC Skytrain.
However, BTSC is going construct elevators and escalators to connect Asok Station with Sukhumvit Station while BMA/MRTA are working on a viaduct to connect Saladaeng with Silom Station. The viaduct to Central World, Major Ekkamai and other commercial buildings and shopping malls will also help them reach the target.
Central Patana is asking SRT (their landlord) to allow the construction of a Subway viaduct (a Gate number 6) to link Central Plaza with Phaholyothin Station. Other companies are also trying to connect their buildings with Subway stations.

BMTA shocked! Subway sucking away almost all passengers from Ratchadaphisek Road busses - Thaipost, July 7, 2004

Crimes inside subway stations - Hoarding subway tokens - Sexual harassment - Thairath, July 7, 2004


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)
Above: Supplementary signs describing where the numbered exits lead were put up in front of exit gates after passengers complained the existing signs were inadequate.

Passengers still storming the subway - Hoarding subway tokens - New passenger numbers - Khaosod, Thairath, & Dailynews, July 6, 2004

Connections to the Subway and Skytrain - July 7, 2004

Storming the Subway - Manager Daily, July 5, 2004

The Thai-language forums and the subway - July 7, 2004

Questions HM The King asked the PM at the subway ceremony - translated and summarized from Khao Sod, July 4, 2004
During the Royal Inspection, His Majesty asked Premier Thaksin and MRTA Governor a few questions:
1) Rails to the New City at Banna
HM: Is the new line to be extended to the New City at Banna?
PM: Yes, Your Majesty. [HM means the Airport Link and Red Line Commuter]
2) Mobile phones inside the subway
HM: Are mobile phones going to interrupt the subway system?
MRTA Governor: No Your Majesty, mobile phones won't interrupt this system even though they might have some effects on the starting system inside the subway rolling stock.
3) New systems done in 6 years
HM: Is the Subway-Skytrain system to be extended and done in 6 years?
PM: Yes, your majesty, we'll finish the jobs in 6 years.
After pressing the button to mark the official opening of the Bangkok subway system at 7:19pm, His Majesty said to Premier Thaksin, Minister Suriya and MRTA Governor Praphat that "You have to expand the subway system very quickly!"
A very concise yet powerful message indeed!

Subway ridership figures & various notes - July 6, 2004

Confusion, fun reign on subway - The Nation, July 6, 2004
...Many others were stunned to learn that if they want to go shopping at Chatuchak market, they have to get off at Kamphaeng Phet station - not Chatuchak station, which is a long walk from the market.
Passengers emerging from Lat Phrao station were similarly surprised to find they were not near Central Lat Phrao shopping plaza, for which they would need to alight at Phaholyothin station.
...Prapat said the number of passengers over the weekend was about 300,000, with more than 100,000 using the service yesterday.
"But we are aware that this number won't reflect the actual number of commuters as we are still offering the promotional fare," he said.

Signs leave commuters puzzled - Bangkok Post, July 6, 2004
... Mr Prapat said the signs lacked detail as the subway's main objective was to move people from the platform as quickly as possible. Other countries also followed the same guidelines and passengers could check details of directions which were placed on the upper floor away from the train platform at each station, he said.
Sompho Sriphum, operations director of BMCL, said his firm would improve direction signs by adding details of exits and enlarging the letters.
" We have to accept that Thais are not accustomed to reading signs. Like subway systems in other countries, large signs will show only the exit and more details of the exit will be shown at other locations,'' he said.

Subway chaos - Bangkok Post, July 5, 2004
Huge crowds rush to try subway... Passengers jostle for space, trains delayed...
...Most flocked to Hua Lamphong and Bang Sue, the first and last stations, where enthusiastic travellers were forced to wait in the crowds for two or three trains to pass before they could squeeze aboard.
..."It's really crowded. Two trains have passed and I still can't get on,'' said one passenger at Hua Lamphong station...
An officer at Hua Lamphong station said the 10-baht fee had attracted too many people. Instead of leaving the station after reaching their destination, many people continued riding, taking several trips back and forth.

Thread of the forum > Eyewitness accounts of the subway opening

First-day subway ride - July 3, 2004

"Thunderbolt" statement from His Majesty asking to expand the subway system quickly - translated and summarized from Manager, July 4, 2004
After pressing the button (photo) to mark the official opening of the Bangkok Subway System, His Majesty told Premier Thaksin, Minister Suriya and MRTA Governor Praphat, "You have to expand the Subway System very quickly!" A concise yet powerful message indeed!

7:14pm, July 3, 2004 - The subway is OPEN!

Drinking, spitting and photography in the subway prohibited - Thairath, July 3, 2004

Updated list of subway feeder busses and vans - Thairath, July 2, 2004 & Dailynews, July 2, 2004

MRTA-BMCL ready for official subway opening - translated and summarized from Matichon, July 1, 2004 & Manager Daily, July 1, 2004
MRTA and BMCL are preparing for the official subway opening by making a rehearsal of the Royal Visit on July 1--with representatives from the Royal Households, Royal Guard Units, and Royal Physicians to prepare the ceremony. MRTA will also have security from the Royal Thai Police and Royal Guard units.
There will be 900 invited guests including ambassadors from Germany, Austria, Japan, the Privy Council, the cabinet, the Director of JBIC, contractors, consultants, and officers from related agencies. However, Hua Lamphong Station can handle only 300 invited guests at a time. Therefore, MRTA has to relocate the other 600 guests to the Thailand Cultural Center Station which can carry 500 guests. There will be live broadcasting by the TV pool.


Subway tickets to be sold at 6pm on July 3 - translated and summarized from Thairath, July 1, 2004
MRTA and BMCL are going to open the stations for the people at 6pm on July 3. The first set of cars will come out of Huay Kwang Depot after the Royal Visit for the Official Ceremony at the Depot at 7pm. This will be the first sign that the government is serious about energy saving by encouraging rail usage.
To use tokens, you have to pay 10 baht and then touch the token to the reader. When you are going out, you have to deposit the token into the turnstiles. This rate will be in effect from July 3 to August 12. After that, the first year rate will be applied. Children younger than 12 ( height 3-4 feet) and those older than 65 will get half price while children smaller than 3 feet will ride free. The estimated daily passengers will be 200,000 a day for the period from July 3 to August 12. The first year rate will last from August 13 to July 3, 2005. After that, full rate will be applied.
To use Smart Cards, you have to pay 300 baht (50 baht for deposit and 250 baht for the ticket) and then you just touch the cards on the readers on turnstiles. When you run out of money, you can refill the card.

On the forum: subway signage questions - June 28, 2004
1. Why do the Thai Cultural Centre and QSN Convention Centre stations use English spelling for 'Centre' whilst the buildings they are located at use American (i.e. 'Center')?
2. How come Rama 9 station is Phra Ram 9 in English?
3. How come 'To Trains' signs in English read 'Way In (Tang Kar)' in Thai?
4. Why the gap in 'Si Lom'?


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

More Subway test rides - June 26, 2004
2Bangkok.com took another round of test rides on the subway. Nothing new to report. The system looks ready to go.

Above: Display screen at the exit gates.
Below: Escalators at the Lumpini Station


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

His Majesty opening the Subway on July 3 - translated and summarized from Khao Sod, June 23, 2004 and Manager Daily, June 23, 2004
The official opening of the subway system will be on Saturday, July 3, 2004. There will be 18 sets of subway rolling stock ready for the grand opening with 1 spare set, thus periodic maintenance must be applied stringently.
His Majesty and the Royal Family will come to Hua Lamphong at 5:30 PM and ride subway all the way from Hua Lamphong to Bangsue. The people will have to ride the subway at Rama 9 Station to go to other stations only after the official opening ceremony is finished (for security reasons). The first 99,999 customers of Subway will receive the special commemorative gift from MRTA/BMCL.
The traffic will is expected to be 40,000 passengers an hour. BMCL is guaranteeing that the subway is really safe to ride after passing the assessment from Independent Certified Engineers in early June 2004. The first year target is 250,000 passengers a day. If the number of passenger is greater than 300,000 passengers a day, BMCL must purchase at least five new sets of rolling stock to meet the demand.
The first year rate of 12-31 baht with half price for children under 12 and old people over 65 will be applied on August 12, 2004. Before August 12, the rate will be 10 baht flat rate to encourage more subway riders. The revenue from July 3 to August 12 will be donated to His Majesty and Her Majesty for Royal Projects.
The expense on the tunnel, stations and rolling stock is 2 million baht a day. The Subway system needs 15,000 spare parts/set since the station is 200 meter long (total 3.6 km) and 20 km of tunnels.

HM the King ready to open city's new subway on July 3 - Bangkok Post, June 23, 2004
...Sompho Sriphum, operations director of Bangkok Metro Co Ltd (BMCL), the subway concessionaire, said a team of independent engineers had approved the safety of the system after test runs in March and this month.
The subway is now 100% ready for service, he said. The company is awaiting official approval from the Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA).

When is the subway open on Saturday? - July 1, 2004
Anxious readers have been asking how long after HM The King opens the subway will the system be open for rides. Depending on which source you believe, the subway will be dedicated at 5:30 or 6:30pm on Saturday evening, with the Royal family riding from Hualamphong to Bangsue. After that the system should be open...
TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) reports: Bangkok’s newest mass transit system, the subway, is to open on 3 July 2004, one month ahead of schedule. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej will graciously preside at the formal opening ceremony at the main Bangkok railway station, Hua Lamphong, on July 3, 2004 at 17.30 hrs.
TNA (via MCOT) reports: ...His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej will preside over a ceremony to inaugurate the country's first underground train system at 06:30 p.m. on Saturday, according to the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA).
The inauguration of the subway's first 'Chalerm Rajamongmol' route would be live broadcast nationwide by local TV stations, the MRTA said in its announcement yesterday...
The underground train system will be on service everyday from 06:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

A ride on the subway - June 16, 2004
Subway ride photos with captions at Yimsiam (in Thai) and at Skyscraper City (in English--down towards the bottom of the page).

Wisarut tells the story of his subway ride: I went to Phaholyothin station for the June free ride with the aim to take a photo at Samyan. It took an hour to ride bus No 52 from my home to Phaholyothin Station due that traffic jam at Lad Phrao Intersection and I reached the station at 7:30am.
After that, I passed the security guard who took my ticket. When I reached the platform, I felt stunned that it is virtually a ghost station since I missed the train to Hua Lamphong. Therefore, I decided to ride the subway to Chatuchak and wait for the train to Hua Lamphong. The train to Bangsue is virtually empty--thus I could take a photo of empty train.
I could see a few passengers in the Chatuchak station. They have used the yellow tape to make arrows on the floor in front of the screen doors for Chatuchak Station. Unfortunately, some stations such as Sam Yan have no directing yellow arrows on the floor yet.
I took a photo every time the train reached a station. Sutthisarn has a red sign due to the density as well as the commercial area (the poor men's Patpong). Ratchadaphisek and Samyan get the pink sign due to the business area around there (Si Phraya-Surawongse for Samyan and Olympia Building at Ratchadaphisek)
More passengers prop up along Ratchadaphisek Road until we passed Rama 9. After that, many passengers exited to offices in Sukhumvit and Silom. Before I reached Samyan to see those Chula gals, the train was virtually empty again.
The test run this time was much better than the previous April test run. I could see only one delay (1-minute delay) at Sutthisarn station. However, Siemens must solve the vibration problem on subway cars when it accelerates to the maximum speed (70-80 km/hr) which I could notice when sitting.
Someone who does not know about the interval of the limited service posted very angry words toward MRTA and BMCL since he was asked to leave Subway at 7pm. However many people retorted to the poster that "This stupid officer from Siam Cement came to Bangsue station very late. He should come to the station at 6pm instead of 6:50pm so that he could ride the subway to have a meeting with his friend at Silom at 7:30pm." Look at the stupid man's post (in Thai).

Odd and ends from Siam Turakij - translated and summarized from Siam Turakij, May 30-June 5, 2004
* The columnists of Siam Turakij said the plan for cutting down for 30-day passes for children from 12-16 baht/trim is to 5-8 baht/trip. The government will subsidize the rest. This is a big welcome since it will fill up the capacities to meet the goal of 600,000 passengers a day from the current 380,000 passengers a day.
* PCT Phones can be used in all 18 subway stations, thanks to True (Telecom Asia).
* The Ministry of Energy is going to fund the construction of a permanent Park and Ride at Mochit and Bangsue to support both Skytrain and subway.
* BMTA is going to donate 15 non-airconditioned buses to Viangchan (Laos) and Phnom Penn (Cambodia).
* All the restrooms inside subway stations will be closed for security reasons--open only for emergencies.

Subway looks to July 1 opening - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, June 8, 2004
Peter M Smith (General Manager of CSC1 Consortium - the consultant for the construction of Blue Line Subway) said the construction of tunnels in the Northern section (Huay Kwang - Bangsue) and the Southern section (Hua Lamphong - Huay Kwang) as well as escalators and elevator installation are done. Only civil works testing and subway running system which are under the responsibility of BMCL are not done yet. After BMCL's tests, the system will be checked if it is really safe to use which will be done by the end of June.
Independent certification engineers hired by BMCL and MRTA will make an assessment on subway safety systems by the end of June 2004. If there is no problem to meet the US NFPA 130 Standard, the subway could be opened on July 1, 2004. US NFPA 130 requires the simulation of emergency situations to see if BMCL and Siemens can solve the problems in time. If the tunnel and station structure has problems, CSC1 and the contractors will come to solve the problems to meet the NFPA 130 standard.

Irregularities in the subway causing full service only after July 1 - translated and summarized from Than Setthakij, May 27-29, 2004
The plan to speed up the full service may miss the July 1, 2004 deadline due to irregularities inside the basic structure which need to be fixed immediately before official transfer to BMCL. Even the power lines have confusing colors due to different systems by different contractors. The delays by MRTA will force MRTA to pay 7 million baht a day compensation to BMCL.
However, MRTA governor said those irregularities exist but are not that serious so long that MRTA can fix the problems on time. MRTA is fixing the power line problems by replacing the power lines which use specifications for internal parts of buildings with the better ones which have specifications for the external parts of buildings. The basic structure is almost done--only some decoration and maintenance (cleansing).
The ventilator chimneys have the gates fixed by replacing fireproof doors with steel doors so as to be able to resist the pressure from ventilators. The fire alarms installed by Siemens have also been repaired since they are still in 2-year warranty period.
Furthermore, the rolling stock problems with stopping in the wrong place (causing the screen doors not to open) have been solved. The morning and evening rush hours will have 18 sets of rolling stock in service while the afternoons will have only 14 rolling stock. The security service providers from England will come to MRTA in June and introduce their service deal.
However, ITD (one of the contractors who installed the power line) said they have submitted the construction results to MRTA long ago since they found no problems in the installation at all and they thought they had met all the specifications.

Subway chief rejects delay claim--Telecom dispute minor, says Prapat - Bangkok Post, May 28, 2004
The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) insists that a legal spat between TOT Corp and True Corp over who has the right to provide communications services on Bangkok's new subway will not delay the service's opening in July...
" I myself am bewildered. Why has this legal dispute been cited as such a big deal that it might delay the subway's opening?'' the governor asked. "As a matter of fact, the communication network in the underground train system is no different from the networks currently installed in the basement of any building. The work can be handled by any contractor, not necessarily the TOT alone."
According to Mr Prapat, the authority had signed a memorandum of understanding with the former Telephone Organisation of Thailand, not TOT Corporation Plc. "Many conditions were set under the MoU and the TOT failed to meet them," he said. "TOT was, for instance, too slow in acting to install the system as agreed."...

Earlier: THAI PRESS: Bangkok subway hits snag over TOT-TRUE tussle - Yahoo News, May 26, 2004
...The report quotes Surapong Suebwonglee, the Information and Communications Technology minister, as saying the trains may not run in July, a month earlier than the initial schedule.
Surapong's comments come after TOT and TRUE, which both provide fixed-line telephone services in Bangkok, claimed the right to provide services from inside the subway tunnels to users outside the subway system.
The report quotes an unnamed source as saying said Bangkok Metro Co., the operator of the subway train, had previously granted TOT the right to construct telecom networks for the subway.
However, Bangkok Metro later canceled the agreement and awarded the contract to a consortium led by TRUE and Advanced Info Service PCL (ADVANC.TH). Advanced Info, owned by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's family, is Thailand's largest mobile phone operator...

Public allowed for new free ride on subway - May 20, 2004
Another confusing statement from MRTA about subways rides: The general public who hold unused tickets for free underground train ride issued in April can use the tickets again in June.
Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) Governor Prapat Jongsa-nguan said Wednesday that those eligible to travel on the underground train between 13-18 April could enjoy the trial runs again on 12,16, and 27 June.
He added that a new lot of free-ride tickets would be delivered to recipients on 21 May. The tickets would also be valid for the free rides on the same three days in June, he disclosed.

National Safety Committee satisfied with security in subway stations - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, May 5, 2004
Gen Loedrat Rattnbawanit (the head of PR Subcommittee, National Safety Committee) told the press after visiting the subway system that "he feels very satisfied with the security system inside the subway stations with conditions classified into three levels--normal situations, abnormal situations, and emergencies." Subway workers and officers are trained to handle the arson and first aid, and to rescue injured passengers.
To counter terrorists' sabotage, CCTV systems are installed in all corners of subway station and all train officers are trained to handle terrorist attacks. Canine police will be used to sniff out bombs and poison gases and there will be more training every six months.

Further subway free rides postponed - translated and summarized from Komchadluke, May 1, 2004
The second subway test runs have been postponed. The initial date will be moved from May 10 to June 7. However, MRTA said they will speed up the to mid July 2004.
MRTA Governor said MRTA and BMCL are working around the clock so that they can make an official opening in mid-July 2004--therefore, it is impossible to have a May test run.
However, MRTA and BMCL decided to postpone the May test run to June 2004 with new dates for the rides:

Old Date New Date Old Date New Date
May 10, 2004 June 7, 2004 May 25, 2004 June 22, 2004
May 14, 2004 June 11, 2004 May 27, 2004 June 24, 2004
May 15, 2004 June 12, 2004 May 28, 2004 June 25, 2004
May 17, 2004 June 14, 2004 May 29, 2004 June 26, 2004
May 19, 2004 June 16, 2004 May 30, 2004 June 27, 2004
May 21, 2004 June 18, 2004 May 31, 2004 June 28, 2004
May 24, 2004 June 21, 2004    

Final four sets of subway rolling stock delivered - translated and summarized from the MRTA website
Governor Praphat Jongsa-nguan has come to A5 Pier of Laem Chabang Deep Sea port to receive the final delivery of subways from Siemens AG which has been shipped by Japanese NYK Logistics & Megacarrier on April 20, 2004. The final four sets of subway rolling stocks are in Delphinus Leader cargo ship. These will be ready for the inauguration of the subway in August 2004.
The first set (No 1004) was been delivered by Antonov AN 124-100 on October 15, 2003. The next 14 sets were shipped to Laem Chabang in every 2 weeks for 7 times starting from December 19, 2003 while the last four sets were shipped by NYK on April 20, 2004.

Police want subway opening set back - The Nation, April 17, 2004
Police yesterday suggested that the official opening of Bangkok's new subway system be postponed to September because of safety and policing concerns...
...At the moment, police have yet to decide which district will be responsible for investigating subway crimes, he said.
Thani said test runs of the subway over the past few days showed that the system needed to be improved to make sure it was completely safe and could provide a smooth service.
However, Metropolitan Rapid Transit Authority governor Prapat Chongsanguan insisted that the official opening would be ahead of schedule, either in June or July.

Update on the subway 'fire' - April 16, 2004
Panic as brakes fail on new subway train (TNA, April 15, 2004)
Passengers testing Bangkok's new underground train system fled in panic today when they smelt burning and apparently saw smoke drift through the subway tunnels.
As the alarm was raised among the 200-plus passengers using the system on the third day of its test run, people began to make a hasty retreat for the nearest exit.
But the incident was quickly shrugged off by Mr. Prapat Chonsanguan, Governor of the Mass Rail Transit Authority (MRTA), who stressed that the trains were still being tested, and that blips in the system were 'normal'.
He attributed the smell to low pressure in the air tank, which had made the brakes work automatically.
The smell, he said, was simply cause by the resulting friction. He also denied that any smoke had occurred.
Mr. Praphat said that engineers from Siemens had inspected the train in question, and were confident that there were no safety risks.

Subway riders evacuated after brake malfunction (The Nation, April 16, 2004)
More than 200 frightened passengers were evacuated yesterday from Bangkok's new subway system after a train was halted by a malfunctioning brake...
It was the subway's second brake-related problem. Another train exhibited a similar glitch two weeks ago during a test ride, he said...
Subway evacuated as train brake fails - MRTA says problem `normal' for trial run (Bangkok Post, April 16, 2004)
The train with three carriages left Hua Lamphong station about noon yesterday when passengers started to smell smoke. When the train passed Silom station, the third station en route, staff of the Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA), which supervises the train service, told passengers the smell of burning was not harmful and the problem was normal for a trial run.
The train eventually stopped at Klong Toey station, the fifth station, and passengers were evacuated...
``The problem was not serious. It's similar to driving a car when we forget to release the hand brake, causing the brakes to burn,'' he said...

Smoke inside Klongtoei Subway Station at noon - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, April 15, 2004
There was smoke inside Klongtoei Subway station at noon today. Passengers inside the subway station were evacuated. The smoke reportedly was due to a spark from the friction between the rails and wheels. Further details will be released later.

Latest stories on the subway opening from the Thai press
Subway system inspection - Manager Daily, April 13, 2004
Subway - Ride it now or wait four months for full service - Matichon Daily, April 14, 2004
MRTA governor explains subway 'free rides' to the public - Manager Daily, April 14, 2004
Diplomats, executives and press ride the subway--Lots of development planned around the stations - Manager Daily, April 13, 2004 and Thairath, April 13, 2004
How to be a subway driver - Manager Daily, April 12, 2004
Disappointment and praise for the subway - Manager Daily, April 13, 2004
A tale of two newspapers - Thaksin's son and a subway contract - April 12, 2004

Bangkok Subway begins passenger runs! - April 13, 2004
The Bangkok Subway starts demonstration runs with passengers on April 13, the first day of Songkran.


Stories on the opening from the Thai press
Subway test runs - Thairath, April 12, 2004, Dailynews, April 12, 2004, and Bangkok Biznew, April 12, 2004
MRTA Subway - Impoving our mass transit - by Dr. Samart Ratpolasit, April 12, 2004

Subway to open ahead of schedule? - April 13, 2004
jpatokal points out this article with the comment 'Now how did this slip under 2Bangkok's radar?': The official launch of the Bangkok subway system will be moved from August 12 to June because of increasing traffic congestion on Bangkok streets, the Metropolitan Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) said yesterday. MRTA governor Praphat Jongsanguan said the government decided to move the official launch to June, but the exact date had yet to be fixed. (
Subway to open ahead of schedule - The Nation, April 3, 2004)
This seems impossible, since the idea of having the official opening on August 12 is to open the system on an auspicious date (HM The Queen's birthday). We do not think this has turned up in the Thai papers either. The subway will run in May, June and July, but the exact conditions are unclear (the plan for the opening of the subway on Songkran was only finalized a week before the deadline). Even at this point there are no ticketing machines in the stations.
MCOT does mention the possibly earlier start date: 84,000 people expected on subway test run - MCOT, April 13, 2004
Bangkok Metro Co., Ltd. (BMCL) expects 84,000 passengers to use subway service during its test run from 13-18 April.
The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) and the BMCL launched the service today after giving away 84,000 tickets to the public and other 60,000 to the government agencies.
During the six-day test runs, BMCL opens 9-10 stations to offer the free ride to estimated 24,000 passengers each day, while the official opening is expected in July, or August to celebrate the 72nd birthday anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen.
The BMCL will start roadshow at department stores, exhibition halls, and office buildings along the subway lines on 22 April. The tickets will also be given, free of charge, to interested people to use the underground train in May...

Tens of thousands of letters flooding MRTA for free tickets - translated and summarized from Thairath, April 7, 2004
After the 18 subway stations were opened for public visits, people asked BMCL officers for free tickets for the test run. They felt very disappointed after knowing that they have to write the letters to BMCL for free tickets since they were stunned because they never thought that MRTA and Thai engineers from ITD and Ch. Karnchang could come up such ultramodern subway stations. They definitely like them. You cannot choose the date you want for the free ride since the date will be selected at random.

More about first rides on the subway - March 31, 2004
From Matichon Daily, March 30, 2004
April 6-9, 2004 : Free visits of the subway station
April 13-18, 2004: Free rides from 10am to 2pm
May 1-9, 2004: Free rides during rush hour (morning and evening) as well as other arranged times
June 1, 2004: Ticket fees from 12-32 baht applied
If you want to get a ticket for free ride, you have to send a letter to MRTA along with an empty envelope with your mailing address to: MRTA, PO Box 434, Lad Phrao Post Office, Bangkok, 10310
The letter must be postmarked before April 10, 2004. Therefore, you must send the letters for a free ride now!
From Bangkok Biznews, March 30, 2004
April 6-9: Free visits to all 18 stations to see demonstrations how to use subway cards and tokens from 9am to 6pm
April 13-18: Free rides from 10am to 2pm
May 15, May 29-30: Free ride from 10am to 2pm
Furthermore, MRTA and BMCL will collect daily usage data during the rush hour periods in May 2004 for those who live within a 500-1000 meter radius along subway tracks on the following days: May 10, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24, 25, 27, 28, and May 31, 2004
Rush hour periods: morning 6am-8:30am, afternoon 11:30am-1:30pm, evening 4:30pm to 7pm
For those who are not within the radius of the subway tracks, they have to write a letter with an empty stamped envelope with their mailing addresses before April 10, 2004 to: Bangkok Metro Co.Ltd.,
PO Box 434, Lad Phrao Post Office, Bangkok, 10320. The test run costs BMCL 10 million baht since the subway is more expensive than the Skytrain - especially the electrical bills from the air-conditioning and ventilator systems.
BMCL and MRTA will receive all 19 sets of rolling stocks in April 2004 and the official opening ceremony can be held in July 2004 with the ticket price from 12-31 baht/person for the 1st year. In the 2nd year, the ticket price will be 14-36 baht.
Those public and private agencies who want their workers and officers to have a free ride will need to have special contact with MRTA so as to ride the Subway from May 1-9, 2004. MRTA expect that there will be 300000 passengers who ride the subway during the testing period.

State of the subway - translated and summarized from Bangkok Biznews, March 30, 2004
For the progress of the extensions, after the cabinet has approved the extension projects proposed by the Traffic Policy Office, the Traffic Policy Office and MRTA will be able to hire a consultant to handle the design in the next two months and it will take another 4 months to finish the definite design to call the new bid by the end of 2004.
The construction of the Bangsue-Bang Yai section will be started in early 2005 while the construction of Hua Lamphong-Bang Khae will be started in July 2005 and Bang Kapi-Ratboorana will be constructed by the end of 2005. All have to be done in 6 years.
Furthermore, MRTA is going to make a free park and ride promotion from April 1-30, 2004 where users can park their cars from 6am to 8pm. There will be two Park and Ride facilities and other 6 parking spaces for who who want to park their cars:
1. Lad Phrao Park and Ride - at Lad Phrao Station inside their 9-floor building - can hold 2000.
2. Thai Cultural Center Park and Ride - at Thai Cultural Center Station - inside 3-floor building between Ratchadaphisek Soi 6 and Ratchadapphisek Soi 8 - can hold 180 cars.
3. Rachdaphisek parking lot - at Ratrchadaphisek near Olympia Thai building.
4. Huay Kwang parking lot - at Huay Kwang Station near Huay Kwang Intersection - can hold 30 cars.
5. Thai Cultural Center parking lot - opposite RS Tower - can hold 20 cars.
6. Phetburi parking lot - near Asok - Phetburi intersection - can hold 60 cars.
7. Sukhumvit parking lot - in front of Siam Society - can hold 40 cars.
8. Sam Yan parking lot - in front of Wat Hua Lamphong - can hold 40 cars.

Tens of thousands of letters flooding MRTA for free tickets - translated and summarized from Thairath, April 7, 2004
After the 18 subway stations were opened for public visits, people asked BMCL officers for free tickets for the test run. They felt very disappointed after knowing that they have to write the letters to BMCL for free tickets since they were stunned because they never thought that MRTA and Thai engineers from ITD and Ch. Karnchang could come up such ultramodern subway stations. They definitely like them. You cannot choose the date you want for the free ride since the date will be selected at random.

Latest on subway extensions: MRTA planning for 91-km expansion of subway - Thairath, April 5, 2004 and Than Setthakij, April 4-7, 2004

First rides on the subway - March 30, 2004
From ITV Midnight News
Wisarut writes: According to ITV Midnight news (March 30, 2004): MRTA will open all the 18 stations for visits from April 6-9. MRTA will make test runs from April 13-18 and then a May test run for 10 days during rush hours before starting fee collection.
If you want to get a ticket for a free ride, you have to send a letter to MRTA along with an empty envelope with your mailing address to: MRTA, PO Box 434, Lad Phrao Post Office, Bangkok, 10310. From June, you have to pay for the ticket from 12 to 32 baht.

From ThaiRath:
First test run with passengers from April 13-18 - translated and summarized from Thairath, March 29, 2004
The MRTA Governor said that after the discussion with BMCL and Siemens (Thailand) about the test run on April 13, 2004, they have come up with the plan for test runs from April 13-18, 2004 which will run from April 13-18, 2004, 10am-2pm.
The future test runs from May to August 12, 2004 will be announced in detail later even though they have made a preliminary schedule as follows:
Weekdays: ONLY during the morning and evening rush hours.
Weekends: All day long (but not so sure for the night).
This test run will be used for data collecting to ensure maximum service quality for the actual services from August 12, 2004. During the test run period, BMCL will issue ticket cards which the passengers have to pick up from the MRTA Office and BMCL Office in person (either going to the officers by themselves or sending a representative for them).
The private sector is asking BMCL and MRTA to become representatives for issuing the tickets during the test run. However, BMCL and MRTA have not decided who will become a representative yet.
The press conference about the test run period will be announced at 1:30 PM of March 29 in MRTA Office at Rama 9 Road.
There will be two places for distributing free tickets during the test run, MRTA Office at Rama 9 and BMCL Office at Inthamara 37.

Songkran subway rides for politicians and invited guests only - March 19, 2004
Wisarut writes: The PR department of BMCL says that the Songkran opening of the subway with free rides (April 13- May 1, 2004) is for politicians and their families. Leftover tickets will be allocated for invited guests. For those who want to be an invited guest, please send a postcards to the following address: Bangkok Metro Co. Ltd., 12th floor, Viriya Thavorn Building, Inthamara 37, Sutthisarn Winijchai Road, Dindaeng, Bangkok 10320
[Ed.: Earlier 2Bangkok.com was told by MRTA that the address was: MRTA, 175 Rama 9 Road, Huaykwang, Bangkok, 10320]
The PR department said they have not allocated the leftover tickets for invited guess yet. Probably, BMCL will be able to do so on April 1. Therefore, common men must wait until May Day to be able to ride with discounted fares.

Want to ride on the subway this April? - March 10, 2004
The official word (which has already been in the Thai papers for many months) is to send a postcard to MRTA, 175 Rama 9 Road, Huaykwang, Bangkok, 10320 with your address and phone number.
However in past months MRTA has told us they do not want to be send any more postcards since they do not know how the subway 'demonstration period' will be handled. Even now, it is not exactly clear of the nature of the free ride given to those who send in postcards.

No word on the nature of the subway opening in April - February 28, 2004
Still no word on how MRTA will handle the 'opening' of the subway in April. At this time it is still being called a 'demonstration period' and is still 'under planning.'

Subway project progress - as of January 31, 2004
  Planned Actual
Civil Work 98.59% 98.49%
Concession: 100% 99.995%
Overall: 93.45% 93.00%

Subway not sure how it will handle free rides - January 29, 2004
Thai-language papers have been reporting that those who want to ride the subway for free 'should send a postcard to MRTA.' A source at the MRTA PR department has told 2Bangkok.com that April 13-May 1 is considered a period of "demonstration services" and at this time there is no need to send in more postcards for a free ride. This is because MRTA is not sure how to handle the rides since they have received a massive volume of postcards already. Exactly how they will handle giving the rides is "under meeting." So this subway opening will not be like the soft opening of the Skytrain where the entire system was operating but there was no ticketing.

'Free' rides by invitation only? - translated and summarized from Siamturakij, January 18-24, 2004
[The following indicates that the subway will not really be ready for even a soft opening on April 13. Apparently the 'free' rides will be by invitation only.] If you want to have a free ride from April 13 to May 1, you should send a postcard to the PR Department of MRTA.

Photos from the Royal visit to the subway - January 15, 2004
Royal Visit Subway photos on the MRTA site. It is neat to see Princess Sirindhorn taking the Skytrain to return home.

'Test run' rides limited to April - translated and summarized from Matichon Daily, December 20, 2003
The test run period with free rides will be limited from April 13 to April 30, 2004. The first year rate will be applied on May Day (May 1, 2004) so as to pay the electric bills for air-conditioning, 60 elevators and 260 escalators which have to be turned on for 24 hours. If the people want to have a free ride, they should send a postcard with a request and inquiry to MRTA and MRTA will send a free ride ticket to them.

Subway opening on schedule - December 21, 2003
Radio Thailand quotes sources at MRTA confirming that the subway will open for test rides as planned during Songkran, 2004.

Over the last few months, officials have changed the wording from a 'soft opening' in April, 2004 to a 'test run' in April 2004. - October 3, 2003

Soft opening on Songkran 2004 (April 13, 2004) and the grand opening on HM The Queen's birthday (August 12, 2004) - Manager Daily - June 3, 2002

430 million to be paid to speed up subway car delivery - Business Day, January 15, 2002
Bangkok Metro (Metro), the operator of Thailand’s soon to be first subway system, said yesterday it was ready to pay Siemens an additional 10 million euros or about 430 million baht to speed up the manufacture of the rolling stock to get the trains running if not on time then sooner than feared. The Metro announced a revised -- earlier -- date for the inauguration of its subway train services, They will now begin on April 13 next year,to mark the celebration of Songkran, the water-throwing festival, that marks the start of the Thai new year....The Metro postponed the proposed start after switching suppliers for its $315 million trains and operating system to Siemens instead of France’s Alstom....The construction works of tunnel and the actual subway system is reported to be about 99 percent complete and it just has to wait for the actual trains to run test-operations.

Want subway cars earlier? Pay an extra 400 million baht
- Bangkok Post, December 28, 2002
First there was a long delay in choosing the vendor to make the cars. When Siemens was chosen, it was a shock choice as Japan loaned billions for the subway with the understanding that certain suppliers would be favored. Now the Post reports: Siemens Co of Germany is demanding an additional 400 million baht for the earlier delivery of subway trains-- in May 2004 instead of August that year. This is a telling delay. The parties involved only recently admitted that the service would not start until August, 2004. This article seems to suggest that the trains might not be delivered until then. That would mean months of testing before the service would start, delaying the opening until late 2004 or early 2005.

Subway delayed one year - Business Day, October 25, 2002
What 2b has reported for years is now official: "The entire project is as much as 57.36 percent behind schedule and the BMCL has admitted the delay and said it would start operation on August 2004," he said after his inspection tour.

No penalty for subway delay - Bangkok Post, August 8, 2002
``To be fair to the concessionaire, we have to admit that the state was partly responsible,'' he said. The concession was supposed to be signed in August 1999, but wasn't actually signed until July 2000, mainly because the government was slow in signing the construction contract. The contract did not say exactly that the service had to start on July 14, 2003, only that the company would have to start it in 48 months. The new deadline for opening is August 2004.

Two from The Bangkok Post: The Bangkok Metro Co Ltd (BMCL) has requested a 13-month delay for the subway opening, blaming the government for being slow in signing the construction contract. Earlier articles: Developers may face B2bn fine for delay & Firm denies breaching terms of contract

MRTA adjusts opening date
MRTA has officially readjusted the opening date from a partial opening at the end of 2002 to a partial opening date in August, 2003.

Probable subway opening date: August 12, 2004
The probable opening ceremony for the subway will be on August 12, 2004 (the 6-cycle jubilee of Queen Sirikit). It's interesting to note that the local press is sticking to MRTA's offical line that the subway will open on December 5, 2003.

Subway cars to be delivered in February, 2004?
An article in the Bangkok Post stated: The delivery period for the subway cars and infrastructure is approximately 30 months, starting from this month (January 5, 2002). That appears to push the opening date into 2004. The same article also stated: The MRTA is scheduled to open the subway's northern line from Rama IX to Bang Sue in December this year, and to have the rest of the system operating by mid-2003. But Mr Prapat said the start of the service might now be put back to the end of 2003.

Siemens beats Alstom for the supply contract

Contract glitch will further delay city subway opening
Bangkok Post, December 4, 2001
City commuters will have to wait another two years to ride on the country's first subway system. The underground railway will not begin operation until late 2003 thanks to delays in the signing of a contract to purchase carriages and operating systems.
Prapat Chongsanguan, governor of the Mass Rapid Transit Authority, said the partial opening of the subway, the Hua Lamphong-Huay Khwang route, scheduled for late next year would also be delayed until then. Mr Prapat attributed the delay in the launch to hurdles in the signing of a contract between the subway operator Bangkok Metro Co Ltd, creditors and the Alstom-led consortium, supplier of electric trains and operating systems. The carriages and the operating systems are worth 17-18 billion baht. Under the 25-year concession contract, BMCL was required to sign contracts with train suppliers by May this year with delivery to be made within 18 months.
Mr Prapat said he had arranged a meeting for the three parties to clear any problems this week and expected the contract to be signed this month. Damages and additional costs resulting from a construction delay would be absorbed by the contractor.
PM's Office Minister Somsak Thepsuthin said the 13km extension route would soon be tabled to the cabinet for consideration. The Hua Lamphong-Bang Khae route, estimated to cost 40 billion baht, has been approved by the National Economic and Social Development Board. A test run for the subway was expected in early 2003 and construction of the extended route was scheduled to start in late 2003.

October 31, 2001 - The contract has been signed!!

October 19, 2001 - Dailynews reports that the contract (trains and operating systems) may be signed this morning.

October 17, 2001 - 2Bangkok.com has been reporting this for some months (since our tour of the subway in March, 2001), but now it is certain: "Commercial service of Thailand's first subway, scheduled to begin in December 2002, is now expected to be delayed..." This is due to the abrupt cancellation of the contract signing to purchase the trains and operating systems from Mitsubishi Corp, Mitsubishi Electric of Japan, and Alstom of France.

August 3, 2001 - A Matichon Daily article dated August 2, 2001 quotes the MRTA Director as saying the subway will open in December, 2002. [This is probably optimistic.] It also said that MRTA has bought a subway system produced by Alstorm-Mitsubishi Co.Ltd. and the concession holder (BMCL Co.Ltd.) is preparing for the assembly of the rolling stock.

March 14, 2001 - The opening of the first leg of the subway project will probably be delayed at least six months because the concessionaire has not ordered the cars and equipment yet. Once the order is made it takes approximately 1.5 years for delivery. That means the July, 2002 delivery date will be pushed back as well as the subway opening from December 2002 to June 2003 or beyond. (The concessionaire is responsible for all of the equipment. The governement is providing the concrete structures.)
* Digging is 100% complete and the tunnel boring machine (TBM) has been removed from the ground.
* When completed the project will have 346 escalators and 69 elevators.
* The massive depot is 100% done. It sits on 270 rai of land.
(Source: March 14, 2001 2Bangkok.com interview with Ms Yuppadee Srinak, Director of Public Relations at MRTA)