Mass-transit train lines right on track, public hearing is told
The government will select the concessionaires to operate the blue and purple mass-transit lines by next August, says Maitree Srinarawat, director-general of the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning.
Speaking at a public hearing yesterday, he also asserted that the planned five routes were on track. For instance, the construction of the purple and blue electric-train routes should be completed in 2011 and 2013, respectively.
The government yesterday held its first public hearing after the Cabinet approved the construction of the five electric-train routes on November 7.
The new government under Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont approved construction of five electric lines: the Purple Line, connecting Bang Yai to Bang Sue; Blue Line, from Bang Sue to Tha Phra and from Hualamphong to Bang Khae; the Red Line from Bang Sue to Rangsit; another Red Line extension from Phaholyothin to Sapan Mai; and the extended routes of Bangkok's Skytrain.
The total five lines cover 118 kilometres, with a budget of Bt165.402 billion. Construction should start next year.
During the public hearing, a number of participants expressed worries over fares for the electric trains.
On the other hand, a Suan Dusit poll conducted among 14,975 people from November 27 to December 10 showed that more than 60 per cent of people living along the routes want to see the electric trains.
The poll also showed that people preferred to see the fares set in accordance with the length of the routes, with fares ranging from Bt12.74 to Bt36.33, or an average of Bt24.27.
Maitree said people were most interested in hearing whether the government would be able to introduce a uniform Bt15 for extended routes.
He said the government would try to ensure the electric trains would serve the population, as it is in line with the sufficiency-economy philosophy, which encourages people to use public transport instead of personal cars.
In terms of economy of scale, the Blue Line has an average fare of Bt30 at present. If the passengers use the line to its full capacity of 180,000 to 200,000 passengers a day, the government will still lose money, because it bears the burden of Bt6 million in administration costs.
However, with the planned new routes, more than 800,000 to 1 million people are expected to use the train service.
Sant Vitespong, deputy director of the Public Debt Management Office, said the projects were commercially viable and should be able to break even soon.
The Finance Ministry will use loans from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation to finance the public works. He said the projects were worth the investment, because the return rate would be as high as Bt5 trillion.