New mass transit lines currently in construction and planning will add 159 stations all around the city. Six mass transit lines now in various stages of construction and planning are set to change the face of Bangkok by the end of this decade.
By Imtiaz Muqbil
Six mass transit lines now in various stages of construction and planning are set to change the face of Bangkok by the end of this decade. A total of 206 kilometers of track will see the addition of 159 stations all around the city. In addition to cutting car use and improving the quality of life for city residents, these new services will give a significant boost to travel and tourism by helping visitors easily reach shopping malls, museums, convention centers, and various other attractions.
The six lines are being undertaken by the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA), set up in 1992 as a state-owned enterprise under the Minister of Transport. They are part of a massive urban transport upgrade project that also includes additional line expansions by the Bangkok Mass Transit System PLC (BTSC), the private sector operator of the SkyTrain. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is also involved in the work.
At the moment, Bangkok has two mass transit systems:
The BTS SkyTrain, inaugurated on December 5, 1999, was the first electric mass transit railway system in Thailand. Entirely funded by private enterprise, the BTS SkyTrain runs a length of 33.12 kilometers, connecting 32 stations. Each train serves up to 1,000 passengers per journey, compared to the 800 vehicles on the roads transporting the same number of commuters.
The subway, known as the MRT, is operated by the MRTA and began operations on July 3, 2004. It has 18 stations, and 10 park-and-ride buildings located at eight stations along the route.
MRTA’s Extension and New Projects*
On March 9, 2010, the cabinet approved the Master Plan of Rail Mass Transit System in BMA and vicinities area and assigned the relevant organizations to implement it by 2019. Under the Master Plan, MRTA will implement the Purple Line (Bang Yai–Rat Burana), the Blue Line Extension (Bang Sue–Tha Phra and Hua Lamphong-Bang Khae), the Green Line (Mo Chit–Saphan Mai–Khu Khot and Bearing-Samut Prakarn), the Pink Line (Khae Rai–Min Buri), the Orange Line (Taling Chan–Min Buri), and the Yellow Line (Lot Phrao–Somrong).
Most of these extensions and new lines will use the rolling stock of three to six cars, providing a service capacity of up to 50,000 passengers per hour per direction. The total investment is estimated at THB 115,812 million, a large percentage of which is being funded by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).
The following three lines are currently under construction:
This route is 23 kilometers long and has 16 stations, all of which will be elevated. The project starts from Bang Yai, a northwestern district of Bangkok, then crosses under the Chao Phraya River at Phra Nang Klao Bridge, then goes along Ratana Thibed Road to Nonthaburi Intersection and Wongsawang Intersection. Next, the route runs along Pracharat Road and merges with the Blue Line (Bang Sue–Tha Phra Section) at Tao Pun Intersection. It then merges with the current MRT line at Bang Sue Station at the end. It is 75 percent complete as of September 2013, with final completion projected by August 2014.
This section is 11 kilometers long, with eight stations, all of which will be elevated. The project starts from Bang Sue Station, passing along Pracharat Sai 2 Road. It crosses the Chao Phraya River and turns left along Charan Sanitwong Road reaching Tha Phra area at Phetchakasem and Charan Sanitwong Intersection.
Hua Lamphong–Bang Khae
This section is 14 kilometers long, of which 5 kilometers will be underground and served by four stations, while the rest of the stations will be elevated. The project starts at Hua Lamphong Station. It goes along Charoen Krung Road, passing China Town, Wang Burapha. It then turns left at Wat Poh before crossing under the Chao Phraya River at Pak Khlong Talart. Next, it reaches Tha Phra Station and runs along Phetchakasem Road to Lak Song Station. This project is 42 percent complete as of September 2013, with final completion projected by June 2016.
This section is 13 kilometers long, with all nine stations elevated. The project starts at Soi Sukhumvit 107 (Bearing). It goes along Sukhumvit Road, passing Teparak Intersection, Pu Chao Saming Prai Intersection, Sukhumvit Interchange and then turns left at Sara Grang Intersection to Electricity Authority Intersection and Sai Luad Intersection. Then, it turns left to Bang Pu to the end of this section (Soi Tedsaban 55), where the depot will be located. This project is 15 percent complete as of September 2013, with final completion projected by December 2015.
The following lines are at various levels of planning stages and study:
This route is 20 kilometers long, of which 13.2 kilometers will be underground with 10 stations, while the remaining 6.8 kilometers with six stations will be elevated. The project starts from Tao Poon. It goes along Sam Saen Road with on underground structure, passing the New Parliament, the Royal Irrigation Department, Vajira Hospital, and the National Library of Thailand. It then turns left to Ratchadamnoen Klang Road and Maha Chai Road. The route crosses under the Chao Phraya River passing Wongwian Yai. Next, it changes levels and rises over ground as an elevated rail system to reach Rat Burana Station.
The section is 12 kilometers long, with all 12 stations elevated. The project starts from Mo Chit Station, crossing Lat Phrao Intersection, and goes along the centerline of Phahon Yothin Road, passing Ratcha Yothin Intersection and Kasetsart University Intersection. At Soi Phahon Yothin 55, it switches to the right side of Phahon Yothin Road through the Lak Si Monument. At Soi Ratcha Trungna Mai Village, it moves back to the centerline of the road and reaches Saphan Mai and Khu Khot, the last station where the depot is to be located.
This route is 34.5 kilometers and has 24 stations, all elevated. The project starts at Tiwanon, Chang Wattana and Ramindra Road to serve new and additional travel demand for the new Government Service Center on Chang Wattana Road, and Nonthaburi Government Service Center. This line will support the growth of the city in northern Bangkok, linking residential and commercial areas in the northern and northeastern suburbs.
Both areas have high travel demand, as they are a mixture of residential areas and government service centers (a series of buildings). Catchment areas start in the north, from Khae Rai Intersection, to Pak Kret district, Muang Thong Thani and Impact Exhibition Center in Muang Thong Thani travelling east from Lak Si, along Ramindra Road to Watcharapol Road, department stores and numerous housing estates around outer ring road, as well as Min Buri Station in eastern Bangkok.
This route is 39.5 kilometers long, 26.5 kilometers of which will be underground with 30 stations, while the rest will be elevated with eight stations. The project starts at Taling Chan, Bangkok Noi, and Bang Khun Non. It crosses under the Chao Phraya River at Somdet Phra Pin Klao Bridge, then runs along Ratchadamnoen Klang Road, Larn Luang Road, Phetchaburi Road. Din Daeng and Vibhavadi Rangsit Road. It then turns right, passing Bangkok City Hall 2, and reaches Thailand Cultural Centre Station, after which it runs along Ramkhamhaeng Road to Min Buri Station.
*Information compiled from MRTA reports presented at a U.N. Conference on Sustainable Transport organized in Bangkok in November 2013.