Auspicious day for starting the construction of Taksin Extension - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Manager Daily, December 13, 2005 Governor Abhirak came to the construction site of Charoen Nakhon station (S7) to perform the inauguration ceremony for the construction of Taksin extension along with representatives from STECON after signing the contract on November 30, 2005. Taksin extension will be 2.2 km long with price tag of 1.033 billion baht. This has to be done in 300 days. The first section is to construct the support pillars for both Charoen Nakhon station and Wong Wian Yai station which has to be complete by February 2006. After that, track laying will go from April to September 2006. At the same time, the construction of stations along with the installation of escalators, elevators for the handicapped, electric power, the lighting system, and air-conditioners will be executed so all will be done by the end of September 2006. Charoen Nakhon station (S7) is at Bang Chak gas station (former Technic Sajjawat Technical School) and Wongwian Yai (S8) is near the flyover across Taksin Road. STECON has to install the system for environmental assessment, vibration detection, noise detection and dust counting so BMA can inspect the system every month. The BMA Governor has asked Deputy Samart to handle the negotiation with BTS. So far, the problem is due to shareholders who disagree with the BMA scheme of revenue sharing even though Khun Khiree, Mr. Super K, and Khun Anat have agreed with the BMA scheme of revenue sharing to relieve them form the burden of constructing the main infrastructure BTS only needs to install the signals and system and supply the new sets of rolling stock if the original 35 sets cannot cope with surging demand. For the Samrong extension, BMA has asked Mahatthai six times to change the scheme from 100% private to 60% from BMA and 40% from BTS. So far, Mahatthai rejected the BMA scheme despite the fact that this Samrong extension cost BMA 8 billion baht. This section has to be started in 2006 so the line would help those who live in the Samrong area. BMA will also ask Samut Prakarn Provincial Hall to help BMA on the section beyond BMA Boundary Pole since the Samrong extension is going penetrate into Samut Prakarn and those who live in the Samrong area are willing to help BMA since they would get benefit from the project. If the central government refuses to help BMA, BMA would have to come up with an emergency plan to accomplish the Samrong extension. Note: If the central government refuses to help BMA handle the Samrong extension, the section from Onnut to Samrong--even Paknam would turn into a red zone for TRT as well as those vested interests who act like a local mafia.
New names for the Taksin extension stations - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Dailynews, November 25, 2005 Deputy BMA Governor Samart Rajpolasit is sending a proposal to change the names of stations along Taksin extension due to public demand to have very distinguishable station names since the old names are very hard for passengers to distinguish.
|Old name||New name|
|1) S7||Krung Thonburi||Charoen Nakhon|
|2) S8||Taksin Road||Wongwian Yai|
Skytrain Extension: Details of the Taksin Bang Wah line - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Thairath and Dailynews, November 14, 2005 The correspondent at BMA City Hall got the news that Team Consulting and Utility Design, and Asdicon Corp has concluded planning the extension project from Taksin Road to Bang Wah (4.5 km) which connects Phetkasem road with the upcoming Taksin extension of 2.2 km. The details are: 1) The area along the route is urban area with moderate-high density along with agriculture areas, consisting of residential buildings, offices, commercial buildings, schools, temples and so on. 2) The construction of elevated tracks with the pillars on the city of the road will consist of 4 stations 2.1) Pho Nimit 2.2) Ratchadaphisek [or Talad Ploo] 2.3) Wutthakart 2.4) Bang Wah 3) Land expropriation is 41 million baht while the construction will be 6.656 billion baht which consist of 3.1) Main structure and rails - 2.43 billion baht 3.2) New sets of rolling stock - 2.42 billion baht 3.3) Electrical and mechanical works - 1.603 billion baht 3.4) Design and control - 0.203 billion baht It will takes three years to finish the project extension though the main tracks are nearly done. The economic benefit is 23.6% -> 2.17 times of investment 4) The ticket price will be 10+1.8 x N, N = number of km to be paid back in 9-17 years depending on whether it is done by the public or private sector. 100% private investment will add extra cost and compel higher ticket prices. Public contribution along with subsidies would enable the company to lower the ticket price. 5) There are two historical sites along the route, Wat Pho Nimit and Phaseecharoen Canal. Fortunately, the construction does no harm to both historical sites since the tracks are 300 meters away from Pho Nimit temple while no pillars are on Phaseecharoen Canal. However, it needs some land expropriation. It may do some harm to the residents along the tracks from microdust (0.7 micrograms), air pollution (NOX, CO) or noise during construction which will be be in the day for short periods. A wall to block noises has to be erected for the area with noise more than 70 dB. Therefore, a PR effort is needed to allow public participation along with traffic facilitation during the construction along with suggestion boxes and webboards for collecting opinions and complaints. 6) The foundation for the track is 54 meters deep so no worry about earthquakes Rubber shock absorbers will give further protection. Fortunately, most people tell BMA to speed up the tracks to suburb areas on the Thonburi side with fair prices. However, BMA needs to modify some parts of the project before submitting the plan to the Environmental Board.
Signing the contract with STECON for the Taksin Extension - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Bangkok Biznews, November 11, 2005 STECON has signed the contract with BMA to handle the Taksin extension of 2.2 km with a price tag of 1.033877909 billion baht with witnesses from the BMA Traffic Bureau and BMA City Clerk. The construction of Taksin extension has to be done in 300 days. The construction will start in December 2005 and the late fine would be applied at 0.2% of 1.033877909 billion baht/day -> 2.067755 million baht/day. There will be two stations at the following places: 1) Krung Thonburi - in front of Soi Sajjawat Technical School 2) Taksin road - near Taksin flyover This will include viaducts connecting with flyovers along Krung Thonburi road to facilitate passenger movement and the removal of obstructing infrastructure. There will be 4 escalators and 4 elevators for the handicapped for each station. A new light system will be installed under the station along with fire extiguishing-detecting system. A system to measure air and noise quality along with vibration will be installed as well.
Dimensions for the Taksin extension and beyond - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Dailynews, November 8, 2005 The stations for Taksin extension and beyond would be 25 x 150 meters. The stairways would be 1.5-3.0 meter wide. Escalators would be narrower.
Interchange between BTS and Mae Klong would be on 1.5 rai of land - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Dailynews, November 8, 2005 After a wrangling negotiation, those who live in Thonburi side of Bangkok say: 1) They do not want the interchange between BTS and Mae Klong railway at Wutthakart area because the new station of BTS is just 800 meters away from Talad Ploo station. Only a connecting viaduct in the middle of Ratchadaphisek Inner Ring Road would be needed. 2) If the government desperately wants the closer interchange, the local people would allow the land expropriation of only one rai and a half (0.6 acre).
More details of the Taksin extension - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Manager Daily, November 7, 2005 1) Even though the Taksin extension may cut down the number of passengers at Saphan Taksin by 10,000 a day, the compensation from 50,000 old and new passengers from the Taksin extension is a big boon to BTS. 2) BTS would have to negotiate with SCB, IFC, and KfW that the Taksin extension of 2.2 km would add extra revenue from the current 8 million baht a day. 5 million baht is just enough to pay the loan interest and the other 3 million is for the electric bill, maintenance, salaries, etc. It is not enough to cover the principle. The extra revenue from the Taksin extension as well as further extensions would enable BTS to pay the principle of 50 billion baht. 3) BTS is going to use the reserved two sets of rolling stock to run the Taksin extension so the operating rolling stock would be 33 sets from 35 sets--nearly reaching the limit. 4) The second phase of the Taksin extension to Bang Wah would force BTS to run at full capacity with new sets of rolling stock needed.
Settlement on the fares for the two new stations - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager Online, November 7, 2005 Those who ride BTS between from S6 (Saphan Taksin) to S8 station (Taksin Road) would have to pay 10 baht while there will be no 10 baht surcharge applied after riding from S8 to station beyond S5 station (Surasak). This extension would facilitate the existing passengers while adding 50,000 extra passengers a day. BTS is ready to provide all the available rolling stock for the Taksin extension.
BMA discussing with BTS on three issues - Installing countdown clock for the Taksin extension - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Dailynews, November 7, 2005 Deputy BMA Governor Samart is going to discuss with BTS about three issues related to the contract with Krungthep Thanakhom on BTS services on the Taksin extension. 1. Service - five sets of rolling stocks going across the Chao Phraya - No need for new rolling stock--the same old 35 sets would be enough. 2. 10-40 baht ticket fee with 10 baht collected from BTS by BMA along with revenue sharing on the first 23.5 km as a way to raise revenue for further extensions and recoup the investment. 3. The BMA contract with BTSC - whether it is necessary to collect ticket fee to go across the Chao Phraya. After discussion, BMA would ask BTSC to come up with a plan in the next two weeks so as to make a speedy settlement. BMA is finishing the draft on a TOR for signal installation along with the construction of two stations and laying tracks to be signed by STECON. The only thing left is to wait for the consultant chosen by BMA Traffic Bureau to handle this project. After the signing ceremony with STECON, BMA would install a countdown clock to speed up the company to get it done in 300 days-- leaving 60 days for system testing.
Premier Thaksin letting BMA handle the Taksin extension at 40 baht max - Other BTS extensions wait until next year - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Manager, November 4, 2005 The central government is giving the green light to the Taksin extension to be done in one year, but they are asking BMA to negotiate with BTS to freeze the prize at 40 baht max instead of the additional 5-10 baht for going across the Chao Phraya. This was after 2 hours of discussion between BMA (Governor Aphirak and Deputy Samart) and the central government (Maew, Pheng, Thanong, MRTA Governor) from noon to 2pm. The 2nd phase to Bang Wah will have to be under negotiation with MOTC even though BMA has already finished the first 4.5 km with only 0.8 km left. The Samrong extension (8.9 km) is also under negotiation between the cabinet and BMA via Mahard Thai for BMA and OTP for the central government. However, the government would like to delay the extension projects (e.g. 8.9 km Samrong extension, 10 km Paknam extension, 10.9 km Phaholyothin extension and 7.7 km Pinklao extension) until they have set up MTA to handle both MRTA and BTS along with the Red Line commuter. This is the only way BMA could get more funds and subsidies from the Central government after BMA has thrown all its money for the Taksin extension to Bang Wah. Failure for BMA to negotiate with BTS would prevent BMA from executing any further extensions. The central government would come up with the line competing with BTS instead. Even MRTA is questioning the BMA scheme to help BTS including the contract as well as the extensions and the authorized person to approve the projects. MRTA would help BTS only after BTS had agreed with MOTC. MRTA would call a new bid for the Purple line and Blue ring with a price tag of 120-125 billion baht in the next three months. The latest in January 2006. Furthermore, the government decided to scrap the direct barter trading system to let the other countries to bid for the projects paid in cash next year. This is after getting boos from foreign investors. They would allow an indirect barter system. Some barter and some in cash so as to start the construction in June 2006. The Purple line would be done by the end of 2009. Government approves BMA's 2.2 km extension of skytrain - TNA, November 4, 2005 [The government had no choice but to capitulate after five years of stalling...] The government has finally approved a proposed plan of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) on its 2.2 kilometre extension of the existing skytrain system to the Thonburi side. The government endorsed the plan at a joint government-BMA meeting here on Friday, which was chaired by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra...
EDITORIAL: Standing up for weary commuters - The Nation, October 30, 2005 ...It came as little surprise therefore to see the initial hostile reactions from the prime minister and relevant Cabinet ministers when Apirak made public his plan to speed up the BTS extension to Thon Buri. Probably because the plan makes very good sense. After all, Thon Buri is a major population centre that has not been served by either of the existing rail-based mass-transit systems. Apirak not only has stolen the show but has also made the Thaksin government lose face. A visibly annoyed Thaksin went so far as threatening to stop the BMA plan in its tracks, saying Bangkok is not an independent state and that any mass-transportation plan must have the approval of the country's Transport Commission. Bangkok councillors belonging to the Thai Rak Thai Party, as if on queue, boycotted a meeting of the Bangkok City Council called by Apirak to make a decision on the proposed funding for the BTS extension. But they later came to their senses, after realising that opposing a plan that would benefit much of Bangkok's population is not very smart politically. The council then unanimously approved the plan...
More articles on the Skytrain extension controversy - October 29, 2005 Wisarut points out more Thai-language articles about the Skytrain extension controversy: * Photograph of Saphan Taksin as testimony for the Taksin extension * The smear campaign against Governor Apirak * Deputy Governor Samart points out that a 15 baht flat rate scheme would cost the central government billions of US$ for subsidies * Loud cheers for the Taksin extension - Loud jeers toward TRT's smear campaign * Deputy Governor Samart insists that the structure of the Taksin extension to Bang Wah is strong enough to handle heavy rail rolling stock * MOTC inviting foreigners to handle the four lines of mass transit systems * Irregularities on the foreign participation on the four lines of mass transit systems baffling diplomats from seven nations
Skytrain roundup Apirak wins round one of BTS showdown with Thaksin 52-0 - The Nation, October 27, 2005 TRT councillors vote 'yes'; 1,000 rally at BMA; governor says work begins next month. Bangkok City Council yesterday unanimously approved a Bt2.39-billion budget to extend the Skytrain to the Thon Buri side of the city... City Council approves B2.3bn BTS extension - Apirak backed by Thai Rak Thai councillors - Bangkok Post, October 27, 2005 The City Council, including members of the Thai Rak Thai party, unanimously approved a 2.3-billion-baht budget for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to finish the short BTS train extension across the Chao Phraya to Thon Buri. However, a Thai Rak Thai cabinet minister insisted the project would need a fresh environmental impact assessment... TRT derailing BTS extension - Bangkok Post, October 27, 2005 ...There is no justification whatsoever for the government to drag its feet any further to delay the BTS extension. The government has only itself to blame for doing almost nothing to relieve the suffering of Thon Buri residents. It's time they had a better alternative, just as their neighbours do, on the Bangkok side of the river.And if the government is not willing to finish the unfinished project, then it should not stop the city administration from doing so if it truly cares for the well-being of Thon Buri voters. Lambasting BMA for planning BTS extension without discussing with Premier Thaksin - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Manager Daily, October 27, 2005 Premier Thaksin is lambasting BMA that "you didn't come to discuss with me before implementing the BTS extensions!" "BMA is very undeveloped--the extension does not connect with other systems!" "I can do these BTS extensions while keeping a 15 baht flat rate!" "BMA is irresponsible to force passengers to pay twice when using the Taksin extension" Wisarut points out many Manager articles whipping up a frenzy over the extension issue: * More people have booed Premier Thaksin on his obstruction of the BTS extension * Governor Apirak pushing BTS extension forward with 10-40 baht ticket * MOTC discussion with BMA on Taksin extension * TRT using a smear campaign against those demonstrators for Taksin extensions as "Mobs from Klong Toei slums" * Premier Thaksin's smear campaign against the Taksin extension * Critics on TRT's mishandling of the BTS extension issue
Bangkok Council approves BTS extension - The Nation, October 26, 2005 [After boycotting an earlier vote last week, not a single TRT council member voted against the plan.] ...The council voted unanimously to allow the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to invest Bt2.39 billion to construction the 2.2 kilometre part of the elevated railway. The extended Skytrain route will run from Taksin Bridge across the Chao Phya river to the Thon Buri side of the city. The vote came after over four hours of debate by Bangkok councillors...
A tale of many newspapers: Did the Transport Ministry "refuse to approve" or "soften its stance"? - October 26, 2005 The English-language newspapers are not quite clear on what the Transport Ministry meeting meant (although the Post adds in an interesting detail not in the Thai-language papers--that the Skytrain extensions have to controlled by a new agency which the government has yet to set up). The Thai-language papers give a much clearer picture that makes it appear the Transport Ministry meeting is a stalling tactic--asking for new EIAs on already complete projects (ironic considering all the projects the government has tried to rush through without EIAs) and offering to call a bid and pay overseas contractors in agricultural products.
|SKYTRAIN EXTENSION: Ministry drops opposition to BMA funding - The Nation, October 25, 2005 The Transport Ministry has softened its stance over the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's attempt to pay for the Skytrain extension to Thon Buri. But it has urged officials in charge to pay more attention to fares, and the potential for environmental damage. Transport Minister Pongsak Ruktapongpisal said yesterday after a meeting with the rail network development committee that in principle, the BMA financing was feasible...||Pongsak rejects city's plan to finish route - Bangkok Post, October 25, 2005 Transport Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal has refused to approve city hall's plan to complete the 2.2km extension of the BTS skytrain from Taksin station to Thon Buri, a decision sure to anger Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin. Mr Pongsak said there were several reasons for the decision, but in particular the authority to proceed rests with a city mass transit authority that the government has yet to establish. He was speaking after chairing a meeting of his working group on mass transit development yesterday. Mr Pongsak said while the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) could build the existing BTS network, because the Interior Ministry had authorised it to do so, it needed approval from the mass transit authority to extend any routes...|
From the Thai-language press - October 25, 2005 Wisarut has a roundup from the Thai-language press of Skytrain and Suvannabhumi province articles and Thai posts commenting on the articles. * Continuing boos toward Premier Thaksin and Minister Pheng's stand against the Taksin extension are here, here, and here. * MOTC negotiating with BMA on the Skytrain extension issue - Manager - Manager - Manager - Bangkok Biz News * BMA complaining that they have not received a letter issued by MOTC about the negotiations concerning the BTS Extension * Articles from the website of Thaksin's arch-foe Ekkayuth Anchanbutr: MOTC negotiating with BMA on the Skytrain extension issue - Premier Thaksin blows up on BTS extension issue - People want to kick Premier Thaksin out of the country * Most people who posted on the net have booed the Suvannabhum Province as a project which pleases vested interests at the expense of local people - here and here.
A tale of two newspapers: The Transport Ministry meets about the Skytrain - October 24, 2005 Bangkok Post lazily parrots the TNA article while The Nation gives a full rundown of the controversy. Still it is interesting how these two papers insulate English-speakers from the depth of feeling on the issue that is being expressed in the Thai-language press.
|TRANSPORT MEETING: Ministry clears agenda to discuss Skytrain plan - The Nation, October 24, 2005 ...Pornchai Nuchsuwan, a member of the committee, said the central government had stepped into the BMA plan because it wanted to ensure maximum benefits for the people. "We are a regulator and we are planning for a ticket that can be used on all mass-transit systems," he said. The committee will try to reach a conclusion today, then will "invite the BMA for talks," Pornchai said. Democrat Party deputy leader and Bangkok MP Korn Chatikavanij suspects that the central government is simply using a political ploy. "It's better to have the extended route sooner rather than later," he said. "Apart from that, the government can ask for negotiations at any time..."||Govt set to soften position on BTS - Bangkok Post, October 24, 2005 ...The meeting will also consider the bidding terms for the other mass transit lines: Red Line (Rangsit-Mahachai and Taling Chan-Suvarnabhumi), Purple Line (Bang Yai-Bang Sue) and Blue Line (Hua Lamphong-Bang Khae and Bang Sue-Tha Phra). Deputy Governor Samart Ratchapolsitte yesterday denied having received an invitation from the government to discuss the BTS extension, as reported by the media...|
From the Thai-language press: Democrats lambasting TRT for obstructing BTS extensions - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Manager, October 23, 2005 Democrats have thrown support to the popular BTS extensions by having BMA give the Skytrain a 2.3 billion baht budget. MP Korn Jatikawanit [child of Super K, owner of BTS] has lambasted Maew [nickname of PM Thaksin] about the indicators of a "worthy investment project" by pointing out the MRTA Purple Line and MRTA Orange Line are good examples. Furthermore, MP Korn has pointed out that if you give 1 million baht for each village around Thailand (total 70 billion baht), you should never question a 2.3 billion baht budget for the BTS extensions. No more excuses for obstructing the extensions can be entertained since the plan to nationalize BTS-BMCL has been terminated. At the same time, MP Ongart Klamphaiboon has attacked TRT people as "narrow-minded men" who come to obstruct BTS extensions as the way to destroy the popularity of Governor Aphirak while perpetuating the sufferings of those who live in Thonburi. Governor Aphirak has been a "Mr Nice Guy" for too long, but Premier Thaksin refuses to respond. Therefore, Governor Aphirak has to do his best to deal with the Taksin extension without asking the central government for a budget. MP Ongart told the press that if TRT members do not want to terminate their own political careers, they should go against Maew by supporting BTS extensions. If TRT refuses to work on the Taksin extension of 6.7 km length, They should let BMA handle this section by themselves without obstructing them. If they keep obstructing the popular BTS extension as they have done for more than 5 years, they would face dire consequence in the next elections in Bangkok in the same way as soldiers in the "red zone." Responses to this article are is here.
From the Thai-language press: BTS Extensions - Thonburi people revolt - full route to be 6.7km - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Thairath and Dailynews, October 21, 2005 After Thaksin Extension is rejected by Premier Thaksin and TRT PMs and TRT members of the BMA City Council, those who live in Thonburi revolt. At 11am on October 20, Governor Aphirak and Deputy Samart inspected the construction of the Taksin extension in golf carts from Saphan Taksin station to Kalaprapuruek Interchange (nearly 6 km from Saphan Taksin) with strong cheers from those who live in Thonburi. Governor Aphirak told those who live in Thonburi that the full version of the Taksin extension would be 6.7 km. with stations at the following places: 1) Krung Thonburi 2) Somdej Phrachao Taksin [the end of the first 2.2 km] 3) Phonimit 4) Ratchasaphisek 5) Wutthakart 6) Bang Wah BMA would run the first 2.2 km to Somdej Phrachao Taksin station while the section from Somdej Phrachao Taksin station to Bangwah (4.5 km) is 74% done (5.9 km done, the other 0.8 km on the row) and that section from Somdej Phrachao Taksin station to Bangwah will be done in June 2006. The first 2.2 km would shorten travel time from Taksin Intersection to Saphan Taksin to 5 minutes--very good compared to the current 30-60 minutes for 2 km due to traffic jams. After finishing the full length of the Taksin extension, BMA would push the Samrong extension (8.9 km) along with the Phaholyothin extension (Mochit - Saphan Mai -> 12 km) and the Pinklao extension (National Stadium - Phrannok -> 7.7 km) by themselves without asking for money from the selfish central government. The capitalization would be done with bonds. Even though Transport Minister Pheng want to force BTS to run at a 15 baht flat rate, Governor Aphirak said even today BMCL and BTSC have collected ticket prices higher than that populist prices advocated by Minister Pheng and TRT. BMA would either hire BTS or BMCL to do this job for the Taksin extension. When Govern Aphirak reached Kalaprapruek Interchange, he spotted local people from Bhanumathorn Community in Chomthong District showing a banner to support the decision of Governor Aphirak. The banner and people of Thonburi said: "We who live in Thonburi have suffered from Traffic jams for too long." "We are stuck for hours and hours on Phetkasem, Taksin Road and Saphan Taksin Bridge." "Taksin Extension must be here now! - The solution for fuel savings." Mr Anat Abhabhirom said BTS is ready to negotiate with BMA about the Taksin extension service, but they need to talk with BMA about the details such as the new officers at Krung Thonburi station and Somdej Phrachao Taksin. (Source: Manager Online)
Thaksin confirms he'll stop BMA Skytrain plan - The Nation, October 21 , 2005 Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra repeated Friday that the government would put a brake on a Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) move to fund the extension of Skytrain services from Taksin Bridge to Thon Buri. "Bangkok is not an independent state," he said... Train row escalates - PM tells city it is not an 'autonomous state' - Bangkok Post, October 22, 2005 The row over the elevated train extension escalated yesterday with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra cautioning the city that it was not an autonomous state and that it had to discuss the project with the government first before proceeding. Mr Thaksin insisted the Bangkok Transit System Co (BTS), which operates the train service, was bound by the contract with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to pay for the civil work of extended routes. The BMA, therefore, could not simply decide to pay for the civil work, stations, tracks and operating systems for the BTS extension, he said. But Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin said city hall has waited long enough. It would go ahead and complete the extension with or without government approval... Residents support BTS extension - Bangkok Post, October 22, 2005 Thon Buri residents favour the city administration's plan to build a 2.2km extension route for the BTS electric train system, saying the short section must be built even if the investment is not economically viable. Navarat Thoopthong, 35, a regular BTS commuter from Pasi Charoen district, said that before the electric train project was built she had to spend almost two hours travelling from her house to her office in Silom. After the BTS train system opened, she was able to cut her travelling time by one hour... SKYTRAIN EXTENSION: Thaksin objects to BMA investment - The Nation, October 21, 2005 ...Agriculture Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan said Thai Rak Thai would call for a meeting of its councillors to find out what prompted their absence from Wednesday's meeting. She urged the public not to see this incident as a political issue and said the government was supportive of the BMA... PM wants BTS extension scrapped - Will try to convince Apirak to end project - Bangkok Post, October 21, 2005 ...The government had delayed considering the extension for years and Thai Rak Thai Bangkok councillors did not return to the council's session on Wednesday, effectively rejecting Mr Apirak's motion for the BTS extension, Mr Ong-art said... The 61-member Bangkok council includes 30 Democrat councillors with 25 from Thai Rak Thai. Pipat Larppratana, chief Democrat councillor whip, said Democrat councillors would exercise their majority vote to pass the motion on Tuesday...
TRT absence leaves BTS route hanging - Apirak can't go ahead without govt support - Bangkok Post, October 20, 2005 [More on the carefully orchestrated campaign to halt the Skytrain extensions.] Thai Rak Thai councillors failed to show up at the City Council's afternoon meeting yesterday, so it was unable to consider Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin's request for approval to complete the skytrain extension to Thon Buri in the absence of government support. Twenty-five Thai Rak Thai councillors failed to return to the council yesterday after lunch. As a result, the session lacked the necessary quorum of 31 councillors present. There are 30 Democrat councillors in the 61-member council but not all attended yesterday's session...
Political battle over mass transit: Central government freezes budget for Skytrain extensions - Defiant city government approves own fund for the Skytrain - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Manager Daily and Matichon, October 18, 2005 Minister Pheng has come up with the plan to cut the budget at the expense of BTS extensions to relieve traffic jams along Sathorn Road that have been deliberately neglected until the government can create MTA to take over BTS and MRTA. The cabinet has just approved the plan this evening (October 18)--and the plan will be officially declared as a "PM Office Decree." The total budget is 129.979 billion baht, down from 212.362 billion baht. The bidding will start in February-March 2006. There are four lines: 1. Red Line Commuter-> Bangsue - Rangsit (24.6 km), cutting from 70.984 billion baht to 33.025 billion baht 2. Airport Link extension -> Phyathai - Bangsue - Talingchan (20.4 km), cutting from 35.154 billion baht to 27.410 billion baht 3. MRTA Purple Line -> Bangsue - Bang Yai (23 km), cutting from 42.204 billion baht to 31.664 billion baht 4. Blue Ring (Bangsue - Tha pha, Hua Lamphong - Bang Khae - 27.2 km), cutting from 64.020 billion baht to 37.880 billion baht The elevated section would be u-shaped to cut the budget by 30% while shortening the time by 15-20%. The government will have to make a 100% investment so as to introduce a 15 baht flat ticket fee. Phase 2 will come from savings which is going to the following routes with a 69.163 billion baht budget -> 35.638 billion baht for civil work and the rolling stock and signals 33.525 billion baht. 1) Red Line Commuter -> Rangsit - Chaing Rak - Ayutthaya (41.5 km) 2) Red Line Commuter -> Talingchan - Salaya - Nakhon Pathom (42.6 km) 3) Suvanabhum Airport Link -> Suvannabhum - Chachoengsao - Chonburi (Pattaya?) (50km) The capitalization will come from four sources: 1) Annual budget 2) Bonds 3) Taxes and surcharges 4) Loan - This to be done by the private sector that acts as contractors with deep pockets instead of the government... The government would pay back by barter trading of agriculture products--rice, rubber, palm oil, longan, etc. This will be done in 3 years instead of 5-6 years and the Red Line would go from Bangsue to Rangsit by the end of 2008. MOTC has invited Russia, France, and China to invest on this project. [Note: No direct investment from Germany at this time due to an alleged clandestine deal with France. Only indirect investment via China allowed.] MOTC decided to delay Samrong and Taksin extension by claiming that they would have to wait until they get the MTA Board have successfully forcing BMCL and BTSC to merge into a single operator so as to introduce a 15 baht flat rate instead of modifying the conditions to allow a joint venture--and claiming is was a political football caused by the Democrats. This harsh and callous response form MOTC has upset BMA, BTSC, and even Bangkokians to such extend that BMA has come up with two solutions. 1) Temporary bus from Surasak to Tha Phra 2) BMA has to invest in the Taksin line (Saphan Taksin - Tha Phra - Bang Wah) via Krungthep Thanakhom and lease the BTS rolling stock to run the service at that section. Even Thai netters have used flamed the government after they have found that the government refuses to invest in the Taksin-Samrong extension. One of local the Thonburi people said, "Please, we are desperate for the Taksin extension. We suffer from traffic jams and fuel hikes for too long. We wait for the government to fulfill the promise but they have broken promises (such as both bridges and expressways across the Chao Phraya and new mass transit lines to Thonburi) to please vested interests. Premier Thaksin, you feel no shame to commit such crimes to rob our tax! We'll punish you in the next election." However, MPs and the BMAC Council from both TRT and the Democrats still keep pointing fingers at one another on who are the culprits for this long delayed project. BMA has responded by allocating 2.2 billion baht for the Taksin extension. Note: Most people have booed the plan of Minister Pheng as the following posts suggest.
More details of the BMA plan for the Taksin extension - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Manager, October 18, 2005 1) The BMA City Council has approved a fund of 2.333 billion baht for the Taksin extension, 1.033 billion baht for civil work, and 1.300 billion baht for the signal and system 2) The BMA Budget Bureau has approved such funding from the 2006 budget. 3) BMA would have to push this project to be ready for service in October 2006. 4) The Samrong extension would have to be funded by bond to be under discussion by the end of October 2006. Note: Most netters have cheered Governor Abhirak for this bold decision to push the Taksin extension at all costs as the following link has suggests. Realizing the Taksin extension would redeem Governor Abhirak from the "Black House Scandal" and secure Democrat seats in Bangkok and Thonburi.
Four years, still waiting for a train - Bangkok Post, September 19, 2005 ...Somkiat Kantharawarakarn, a city councillor for Thon Buri district, said many people in his area had questions about the delay. He called on those agencies responsible to keep the public interest in mind--rather than personal interests.
Abhisit suspicious of skytrain delay - BMA could be `pawn in a political game' - Bangkok Post, August 21, 2005 ...Some critics say the ruling Thai Rak Thai party is not keen to give the project the go-ahead for fear that it would help increase the Democrat party's popularity among Bangkok voters. "There is no progress despite the fact that the government should fully support this project to help solve Bangkok's traffic woes,'' said Mr Abhisit...
Government seriously pressuring the Skytrain to join the holding company - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Manager Daily, August 2, 2005 The government seriously wants to pressure BTSC (the Skytrain company) to join in the new holding company while coming up with two new lines with a price tag of 40 billion baht as a substitute for the canceled BTSC Skytrain extensions if BTSC refuses to join the new holding company. The substitute lines if BTSC refuses to give up some stock to join the new holding company are: 1) Queen Sirikit Center - Rama 4 - Old Paknam Road - Poochao Saming Phrai - Phra Padaeng - 18 km elevated track, 10 billion baht -> the substitute for Onnut - Samrong 2) Phayathai - Phetburi - Yomraj - Lan Luang - Ratchadamnoen Klang - Sanam Luang - Thonburi Station (Bangkok Noy), 10 km subway [City Train] + 5 km elevated track from Thonburi to Phrannok, 30 billion baht -> the substitute for Pinklao extension of Skytrain The other substitute for BTS extensions are the Red Line Commuter Network. If BTS agrees to surrender some stock to join the new holding company, the number of passenger will go up by 300,000 passengers a day/route. TNA has a slightly gentler take on the situation: BMCL to talk BTS into selling shares to the government - TNA, August 2, 2005 The Post finally chimes in on the controversy and gives some background: Ministry plans competing train routes - Bangkok Post, August 3, 2005 ...The two firms, however, have been reluctant to sell their businesses to the government due to what they feel are paltry offers by the state and their sense of confidence in their future performance once they can extend their services to suburban areas. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, now under the control of the opposition Democrat party, controls the skytrain project. It is trying to protect the BTS service which is operated under a city administration concession. The BMA has staged public hearings to gather support for the proposed extension routes of the skytrain system. A Transport Ministry source admitted the BMA was not cooperating in the government's bid to convince BTS to link its service with the state's mass transit system.
Finally, it's official: MOTC and OTP suspending Skytrain extensions - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Dailynews, July 20, 2005 After the failure to nationalize BTS Skytrain, OTP has disqualified BTS from becoming partners in the mass transit holding company and suspends any further extensions of the BTS Skytrain. OTP has come up with the following substitutions: Skytrain extensions canceled: 1) Mochit - Saphan Mai 2) National Stadium - Phrannok 3) Taksin Intersection - Phetkasem 4) Saphan Taksin - Taksin Intersection 5) Onnut - Samrong - Samut Prakarn Substitutes: 1) Bangsue - Rangsit [Red Line commuter] 2) Hua Lamphong - Lak Song [Blue Line subway] 3) Hua Lamphong - Lak Song [Blue Line subway] 4) Purple Line [underground section] 5) New Rail line from Makkasan to Paknam via old Paknam railway Furthermore, OTP has asked BMA to return the money for BTS extensions since BMA cannot use that money unless the BTS Skytrain is nationalized.
More pressure on the Skytrain After stifling the Skytrain's growth to pressure it and trying several methods of taking the company over, it seems the Prime Minister's company is trying to gain control of the company by buying out Skytrain creditors. Shin Corp trying to take over BTS - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Thairath, July 15, 2005 BTS creditors have news from Shin Corps that Shin Corps is going to buy BTS debts from the creditors such as KfW and other domestic creditors at a 50% discounted price (from the current US$850 million for KfW and 13 billion baht for domestic creditors such as IFCT which has been taken over by TMB [the checkbook of Shin Corps], and SCB). This is being done to take over BTSC. After the debt buyout, Shin Corps would ask BTSC to cut registered capital to pay off debts and raise the ticket price to the 45 baht ceiling. Even today, BTSC still operates at a loss indefinitely postponing the IPO despite the 400,000 passengers a day. Failure to perform debt restructuring would discourage the company from offering an IPO. MASS TRANSIT: Alternative to new BTS routes eyed - The Nation, July 20, 2005 Suriya ups stakes in govt's row with firm Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit has ordered a study of the construction of new mass-transit routes as an alternative to extensions to the existing Bangkok Transit System (BTS) network. The move is seen as putting more pressure on privately-owned BTS, which has refused to continue share-sale negotiations with the government...
Skytrain extension: BMA fighting back against OTP - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Dailynews, June 8, 2005 [The astonishing claims that have been made since 2001 to halt Skytrain expansion are still floating around: that to encourage competition the Skytrain extensions may have to run by a new company (not BTS) and that the Taksin extension can never be finished because the structure construction was done with public funds.] After getting a harsh response from OTP, BMA said BTS extensions deserved government support to attract private investors while attracting more pasengers. This should be done in the same way as the MRTA subway which has 90% public investment while BMCL invests in the other 10% (100 billion baht total). BMA has asked for the modification of the Skytrain investment plan since 2002, but the government still rejects the BMA scheme. BMA has to call for a bid for the contractor without signing the contract until BMA has submitted the plan to the cabinet which includes provisions to extend BTS beyond the BMA city limits. BMA has not chosen BTS to run the service to allow more competition even though BTS has a cutting edge over other companies. BMA has submitted a business plan to OTP several times, but OTP keeps throwing BMA business plans for BTS into the trash. BMA may have to explain to the cabinet about this matter.
OTP applying a heavy hand to halt Skytrain extensions - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Dailynews, June 7, 2005 The conflict between OTP and BMA on the traffic solution at Sukhumvit Road between Soi Bearing (Sukhumvit 107) and Poochao Saming Plai Road erupts since OTP is going to allow the Highway Department to construct a flyover on the route where the Samrong Extension is to run. OTP wants to construct both the Samrong extension and Samrong Flyover at the same time and the Highway Department should handle the construction of both flyover and Samrong extension of BTS. However, BMA refuses to cooperate with OTP and Highway Dept. Therefore, OTP has to apply a heavy handed approach to give BMA a very hard lesson by stopping and scrapping the Samrong Extension due to the following violations. 1) Approving Samrong Extension without cabinet approval. 2) Samrong Extension route goes beyond BMA city limits. 3) Allowing BTS to monopolize the route without calling a new bid to get a new company to handle the services. 4) BTS has not delivered the concession payment plan for both BMA and central government to OTP.
Slight cut on BTS extension bids - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Dailynews, May 18, 2005 and Manager Daily, May 18, 2005 After negotiation with contractors to cut the construction budget for the Taksin and Samrong extensions, the results are:
|Before (baht)||After (baht)|
|Taksin Extension (STECON) (no discount)||1,033,877,909.00||1,033,877,909.00|
|Samrong Extension Phase 1 (ITD)||4,060,130,289.49||4,059,300,000|
|Samrong Extension Phase 2 (ITD)||4,414,681,852.86||4,413,400,000|
Central government will not help with Skytrain extensions - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Siam Thurakij, May 17-20, 2005 BMA found that the government refuses to help with 2 billion baht for Southern Bangkok Transportation and freezes both the Southern Transportation Center and Hua Lamphong-Mahachai section. This is to concentrate on Makkasan Center and the Makkasan-Bangsue-Rangsit with a provision for the extension from Rangsit to Ban Phachi with a new stop at the new parliament at Thai Melon land. BMA finds that the central government will grant nothing to help BMA to construct the Taksin and Samrong extensions. Therefore, BMA may have to pay 9 billion baht to complete the Taksin-Samrong extension from its own pockets.
From the Thai-language press: BMA delivering bidding results for BTS extensions to challenge the government to obstruct the plan - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Thairath, May 2, 2005 and Than Setthakij, May 1-4, 2005 After inspecting Saphan Taksin Station on April 29, Governor Abhilux said after getting the unofficial winner of the bidding for Skytrain extensions, they will inspect the plan and declare the official winners in the next two weeks. After getting the official winners, BMA will send the results to Mahatthai which will ask the government to help both BMA and BTS handle the project. The Minister of the Interior Mahatthai Chitchai and the BMA Governor will discuss the plan for BTS extensions (2.2 km Taksin extension, 8.9 km Samrong extension of which 5.25 km is within Bangkok while the other 3.65 km is in Samut Prakarn) on May 3. If the BMA plan is approved, the Taksin extension will be done in 1 year while the Samrong extension will be done in 3 years. The sufferings from traffic jams should help end the political football between BMA and government over the Skytrain extensions. If the government refuses to approve the BMA plan (which is expected), BMA said they will push the project at all costs even without government support. Deputy Governor Samart said if BTS declines to handle these extension, BMA can call a new bid for those who are going to handle the services [which makes no sense at all]. BTS has sent a letter to BMA that the company is definitely going to handle the extensions. Only a high power company like Siemens could possibly rival BTS. Therefore, BMA will have to make a temporarily arrangement by allowing BTS to handle the services of the Taksin extension until they could find a better company to handle the services of both Taksin and Samrong extensions. This BMA movement has ignited some grudging responses from OTP. Even though OTP agrees with BMA that the extensions would be constructed and opened as soon as possible, OTP has not received any info about the financial benefits of these extension projects before asking for 50% support from the central government. However, the government may have to approve the funds to handle these extension projects since BMA has delivered the official winners of the bidding as well as the changes in the investment plan, only after BMA and BTS delivered the financial benefits of the extensions to the government. Credit Swiss First Boston (HK) has sold their stock (12.67%) to BTS on April 20 and there is speculation that the New World Group (Alliance of Mr. Khiree in Hong Kong) is going to buy all of those stocks. However, slow settlement on BTS debt restructure is the most serious issues for OTP which really makes BTS not a viable service hander for extensions despite the strong willingness of the company to handle the service. If other companies are going to handle the extensions, it makes no sense at all since it requires frequent embarking and disembarking between the lines of different companies. Nevertheless, a BMA source said the BMA City Council has already approved 4.5 billion baht over three years to handle these extension projects since local people demand this project as soon as possible. Money allocated is 1.5 billion baht for 2005 and 1 billion baht for 2006. BMA will sign up the contractors in July 2005 and the Taksin extension will be ready for service in 2006 while Samrong extension will be done in 2008. For the case of the bidding, the winners are 1) Taksin extension (Saphan Taksin - Taksin Intersection): STECON + AS -> 1,033,877,909 baht -> lower than the 1.113 billion baht of the BMA plan 2) Samrong Extension Phase 1: (Onnut - La Salle): ITD -> 4,060,130,289.49 baht -> cost overrun from the target of 3.87545 billion baht 3) Samrong Extension Phase 2: (La Salle - Samrong + Samrong Depot): -> 4,414,681,852.86 baht -> still within the budget of 4.296 billion baht Notes: Even the columnist in Matichon said Samrong and Taksin extension must be done as soon as possible at all costs because people can no longer tolerate any political footballs between the Democrat and TRT on the BTS extensions issue. After getting both extensions done, the Phaholyothin extension must be done and routed from Mochit to Ratchayothin all the way along Phaholyothin Road to Donmaung and Rangsit (not the paddy fields in Lum Lookka gobbled up by former Governor Samak's cronies) to relieve the sufferings of those who live in Bangkok northern suburbs.
Skytrain: Apirak wants extension okayed - Bangkok Post, April 30, 2005 [The Thai-language press has more details on this political ploy to force the government's hand to allow the Skytrain to expand: Pushing delayed Skytrain extensions - Dailynews, April 27, 2005] ...Inspecting the site of the route that will reach the Thon Buri side of Bangkok, Mr Apirak said he would propose the project to cabinet through Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Chidchai Wannasathit on Tuesday. The section starts at the Taksin station, crosses the Chao Phraya river and reaches Taksin junction in Thon Buri...
Pushing delayed Skytrain extensions - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Dailynews, April 27, 2005 BMA Traffic Bureau is going to open the bidding results for the contractors to handle the BTS extensions which have 3 contracts at 11 AM of April 27, 2005. Three contracts for BTS extension are 1) Taksin Extension (Saphan Taksin - Taksin intersection): 2.2 km 1.1 billion baht 2) Samrong Extension Phase 1 (Onnut - Lasalle [Sukhumvit 105]) 3) Samrong Extension Phase 2 (Lasalle - Samrong [Sukhumvit 119]) Contracts 2-3 have a total distance of 8.9 km and price tag of 8.4 billion baht ITD, CKC (Ch. karnchang PCL), STECON, Nawarat Phatthana PCL, and CIVIL are competing for the three contracts. Only Civil declines Phase 2 of Samrong Extension. After waiting for cabinet approval for the changes on the investment plan for so long since the proposal was submitted to the cabinet in 2002 and commencing the bidding on October 3, 2003, BMA has decided to make an announcement on who is the winner of the bidding. Notes: After declaring the winner, TRT may have to think twice if they are going to continue to obstruct the construction of the Taksin extension and Samrong extensions for fear of alienating voters. Bangkokians and those who live in suburbs and Thonburi want to ride to the Bangkok city center after waiting for this project for many years.
ITD says no to BTS debt restructure plan - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Bangkok Biznews, February 20, 2005 After reading the BTSC debt restructure plan, ITD and three other creditors retort back to BTSC that "we refuse to approve such a plan unless BTSC pays more." The creditors have come up with their own version that BTSC must pay them back 100% instead of just 7.5%. This has effectively delayed the debt restructure from February 7 to April 19, 2005.