Airport Rail Link has decided to stop charging the flat 20-baht discounted fare for its City Line after it failed to attract as many passengers as expected, resulting in the service running at a loss of almost two million baht a month, the Matichon website reported on Thursday..
Chamroon Tangpaisarnkit, chairman of the SRT Electric Train Co which runs the Airport Rail Link, on Thursday said the company board had decided not to extend the 20-baht discounted rate ? which began on Oct 1 and ended on Dec 31, for the system's City Line between 11am and 2pm ? because the number of passengers still fell short of the target.
The company wanted the promotional fare package to attract about 7,000 passengers a day, but it only slightly increased the number of city travelers to between 5,000 and 5,500 during the entire period, or about the same figure as before the discounted fare was introduced.
The company began charging normal fares for the City Line, which runs from Phaya Thai station to Suvarnabhumi airport, on Jan 1. The fares are from 15 to 45 baht, depending on the distance travelled to the station.
Airport Rail Link would need to come up with new promotional packages or approaches to draw in more passengers to use the system, Mr Chamroon said.
The separate express service to the airport charges a higher fare per passenger -- one-way 90 baht and return 150 baht.
Source: Bangkok Post, January 3rd, 2013
NEWS UPDATE... 25th Dec., 2012
NEWS UPDATE... 25th Dec., 2012
Yingluck directs ministry to fast-track rail projects
The government is revising plans for the existing rail system and proposed high-speed rail projects in a bid to hurry investment.
According to Transport Minister Chatchart Sithiphan, the ministry was told by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at yesterday's meeting to complete the revision within a month.
The ministry's existing plans call for spending 77.8 billion baht on 10 mass-transit projects in Bangkok and the surrounding area, excluding high-speed rail, in 2013.
The figure was set to increase to 138.9 billion baht in 2014 and 146.1 billion in 2015, dipping to 109.9 billion in 2016 and 60.4 billion in 2017.
The ministry has been told to hasten construction of the 10 planned mass transit projects covering 464 kilometres, especially the first section of the 80.8-km electric Red Line running from Rangsit in Pathum Thani to Bang Sue.
The Red Line project was delayed after suggestions that a section of it would be scrapped because it would overlap the future extension of the Airport Rail Link from Phaya Thai station to Don Mueang airport, as well as a planned international high-speed rail route.
In related news, bidding for high-speed rail projects is expected to kick off faster than previously planned, moving from the third or fourth quarter of 2013 to the second quarter, according to Mr Chatchart
The ministry is also required to settle route plans, sources of funding and the environmental impact.
Mr Chatchart said the government would invest only in rail systems and civil works making up 80% of the project, with the rest coming through public-private partnership.
Source: Chatrudee Theparat, Bangkok Post, December 25th, 2012
NEWS UPDATE... 20th Dec., 2012
Suvarnabhmui Airport Rail Link extends hours
BANGKOK, 21 December 2013: Airport Rail Link and MRT will extend service hours from midnight to 0200 on New Year’s Eve.
Airport Rail Link will extend service hours of the City Line – Phayathai-Suvarnabhumi while the Express Line will operate normal hours closing at midnight.
From 24 December to 2 January Airport Link will give to passengers 21,000 pens and 7,000 bottles of white tea at Makkasan and Phayathai stations.
The SRT Electrified Train, the operator of the Airport Rail Link, will promote its check-in facility at Makkasan Station from 0700 to 2100 to avoid congestion at the airport. The SRET provides free parking at Makkasan station for up to 300 cars.
Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt says the State Railway of Thailand will study whether it should cancel the contract on the electrified trains supplied by Siemens to solve a monopoly that will make it more difficult to buy rolling stock from other companies in the future.
Source: Rapeepat Mantanarat, TTR Weekly, December 20th, 2012
NEWS UPDATE... 10th Dec., 2012
Suvarnabhmui Airport Link discount fails to pull crowds
The Airport Rail Link's flat 20-baht fare for its City Line has failed to attract as many passengers as expected, causing the system to run at a loss of almost 2 million baht a month.
Chamroon Tangpaisarnkit, chairman of the SRT Electric Train Co which runs the Airport Rail Link, said the 20-baht discount rate _ which began on Sept 30 and is due to end on Dec 31 for the system's City Line, running between 11am and 2pm _ has only slightly increased the number of passengers using the City Line.
At some times during the operating hours in which the discount has been offered, the City Line has attracted the same number of passengers travelling as before the discounted fare rate was introduced, or 5,000 passengers during the entire period, he said.
The system was running at a loss of about 1.8 million a month.
The company's board would meet on Dec 17 to discuss whether to extend the promotional fare package for the City Line, which runs from Phaya Thai station to Suvarnabhumi airport.
"In past months, we have introduced several promotional packages such as a reduced fare for the Express Line from 90 baht to 45 baht to encourage employees and officials working at Suvarnabhumi airport to use the non-stop rail service during rush hour," Mr Chamroon said.
The pre-flat rate fares for the City Line were between 15 and 45 baht.
"However, [even with the discounted rate] the number of passengers still falls short of the target," he said.
He backed the government's idea to separate SRT Electric Train Co from the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), saying his firm needed more flexibility in the way it operated. The company is currently a subsidiary of the SRT.
Transport Minister Chadchat Sittipunt said he would call a meeting with Airport Rail Link executives to discuss problems regarding the flat 20-baht discounted fare.
He wanted to know what caused the system to run at a loss.
The minister said he wanted the 20-baht discounted fare to continue, but further details of the promotional package need to be studied.
Source: Amornrat Mahitthirook, Bangkok Post, 10th December, 2012
NEWS UPDATE... 28th Sept., 2012
Bt20 fare for Airport Link routes to start Sunday
BANGKOK, Sept 28 - The Airport Rail Link also known as Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link is to start collecting one fare at Bt20 for all routes on Sunday.
SRT Electrified Train (SRTET) Company's public relations manager Aim-atcha Pongpanpanu said the flat-rate fare promotion is the government's policy for Airport Rail Link's City Line, which is usually priced at Bt15-45/journey.
Passengers who only travel one stop will however be charged less at Bt15/journey.
Those carrying a student smart pass originally given a 20-per cent discount and those having a senior smart pass with a 50-per cent discount will still be offered the one-fare privilege.
The promotional price will take effect only from 11am-2pm daily from Sunday through Dec 31 as a thank you for passengers using the service and to encourage more customers to use Airport Link.
Source: MCOT online news, September 28th, 2012
NEWS UPDATE... 21st Sept., 2012
Developer launches Airport Link Square
BANGKOK, 21 September 2012: The first mixed-use development near the Airport Rail link to Suvarnabhumi Airport will feature a shopping mall and a high-end hotel to attract tourists and business visitors.
The mixed-use development project, A-Link Square, to be built by Airport Link Square, will be ready by the second quarter of next year at a development cost of around Bt900 million.
The project is located on Ramkhamheang Road, around 600 metres from the Airport Rail Link’s Ramkhamheang station. It is around 10 km from down town Bangkok in a busy suburb noted for its entertainment, pubs, apartments and hotels.
The project will feature two zones – a shopping mall and hotel, covering 40,000 sqm with around 113 shops and a hotel branded Niras Bangkok that will have just 63 rooms.
According to the Airport Link Square, the project will achieve a return on investment in six years based on its location as the first big mixed-use real estate development near the Airport Rail Link.Even so it is still 25 km from Suvarnabhumi Airport, but just 12 minutes away on the train.
The owning company believes it can attract tourists who are on their way to the airport to stop for last-minute shopping at the mall. It is a long-shot as most tourists once they board an airport train are committed to just one task – boarding a plane to go home.
However a more practical target is residents living on Sukhumvit 71, Ekamai, Thonglor, Khlong Tan, Phatthanakan, Rama IX, Ramkhamhaeng and Petchaburi roads.
The company also claims it will develop a second hotel property in Bangkok of around 2,000 rooms that will cater to the events business,but gave no details of the site location or time-frame.
Source: Paphada Apimonton, Ttrweekly, September 21st, 2012
NEWS UPDATE... 12th Sept., 2012
Airport Rail Link to be made State Enterprise
The status of Airport Rail Link will be raised to that of a state enterprise to settle the illiquidity problem and business loss.
Deputy Transport Minister Chatchart Sithipan said that the State Enterprise Policy Committee's meeting, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt NaRanong, agreed to raise the status of Airport Rail Link to a state enterprise, similar to State Railway of Thailand, by making the Finance Ministry its major stakeholder. It will be monitored by the Transport Ministry.
Airport Rail Link operates a rapid transit line in Bangkok. The line provides an airport rail link from Suvarnabhumi Airport, via Makkasan, to Phya Thai station in central Bangkok.
Source: The Nation, September 12, 2012
NEWS UPDATE... 19th August, 2012
Rail link connecting Suvarnabhumi Airport with Bang Na BTS?
BANGKOK, Aug 19 – The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) convened a meeting to plan public hearings for its plan to develop mass transit linking Suvarnabhumi airport and the BTS Skytrain.
BMA Deputy Director-General Traffic and Transportation Department Oravit Hemachudha presides over a meeting on the planned Light Rail Transit (LRT) system between Suvarnabhumi and Bang Na with a view of alleviating traffic congestion. To date, this particular section is a missing link in the mass transit system between the airport and inner city.
Mr Oravit said construction for the 18.3 km. elevated stretch is projected to start in 2014, and continue for three years, with a total budget of Bt25 billion.
The route will run through 12 stops from the airport to BTS station in Bang Na, passing through busy spots, such as BITEC convention centre and Central Bangna, via Sri Nakarin road and King Kaeo.
In addition to the Phase 1 connection with Bang Na BTS station, the system is also designed to connect with the southernmost side, which is a planned expansion section of Suvarnabhumi airport. (MCOT online news)
Source: MCOT online news, 19th August, 2012
UPDATE... 18th August, 2012
Plane Spotting Around Suvarnabhmui Airport
NEWS UPDATE... 16th July, 2012
Airport link to add more check-in counters
BANGKOK, 15 July 2012 - Mr. Wasin Vannaprueks, the Marketing Section Manager of SRT Electrified Train Co., Ltd, which manages the Airport Rail Link, made public that this coming August 14, he will meet with the Airline Operators Committee (AOC) to discuss the planned opening of additional check-in counters at the Airport Rail Link’s Makkasan Station. Mr. Wasin stated that his company will present suggestions to various airlines regarding check-in promotions, improving the ambience at the station, and stores within the station.
Airlines that are interested in opening check-in services at Makkasan station will be allowed to utilize check-in counters, offices, and parking spaces for free for the first six months, and employees will also be given rail passes for use to travel to work. Whether these services will be offered cost-free for more than six months will depend on negotiations between the company and interested airlines.
Mr. Wasin also noted that at present, only one airline is providing check-in services at Makkasan station, which is Thai Airways International.
The battle lines have already been drawn. On one side, we have Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong and the government's economic policy makers, while on the other are opposition politicians and private economists.
Mr Kittiratt wants parliament to approve up to 2 trillion baht in new borrowing to support infrastructure investment over the next few years. New roads, power plants, rail systems and the like will all be crucial to support economic growth and strengthen the country's competitiveness, particularly with the launch of the Asean Economic Community in 2015.
For the most part, critics do not challenge the need to invest in new basic infrastructure. Rather, the question is one of value and timing _ the government is seeking to increase the country's debt by a considerable amount, and the worry is that the actual benefits, minus waste and corruption, will be less than hoped by taxpayers.
Considering the uncertainties in the global economy, the concerns are not unwarranted. Thailand's public debt now stands at 4.614 trillion baht, or the equivalent of 42.4% of gross domestic product. While debt remains well below the 60% limit set by the Finance Ministry, incurring so much new debt will leave current and future policy makers with less breathing room to cope with changes in the economic environment and budget requirements.
Personally, I agree with Mr Kittiratt that the question to invest or not to invest should be answered based on economics, not politics. Alas, the country's experience from large public projects shows that it is nearly impossible to divorce the two. Time and time again, large programmes, whether it be a subway, expressway or an airport, have been hit by delays and cost overruns as each change in political leadership brings reviews, audits and red tape ultimately aimed at ensuring that personal and party interests are properly aligned with national interests.
We are witnessing this process occur today. Five months after the government announced its emergency decree authorising 350 billion baht of debt for flood prevention and water management projects, only a miniscule amount of funds has been actually disbursed. I have little confidence that what work has been done will be sufficient to ward off flooding if the country is hit by a similar wave of storms as those last year.
The political dimension of public spending isn't confined to the government and opposition. We have Thaksin Shinawatra supporters and detractors, red shirts and yellow shirts, conservative elite and more progressive liberals. The nuances and camps involved in Thai politics have become more slippery than ever before. For good or ill, Thaksin has been a lightning rod in each of these debates and has been ever since the 2006 military coup that forced his premature departure from the premiership.
Would it be too much for Thaksin to step above the divisions and wield his considerable influence and power for the common good? Could he not simply take to the airwaves and say he and his sister, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, will do what must be done to eliminate corruption and increase public governance and transparency in government?
Businessmen complain bitterly about bribes and tea money that must be paid to simply do business with the state: sums that can amount to as much as 50% of the total budget of a project and spent simply to ensure that public officials and our elected politicians do their job. I have no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the wheels of the bureaucracy and the ruling Pheu Thai Party would turn much more quickly if Thaksin committed his influence, both in public and behind the scenes, to implementing these projects as quickly, cleanly and efficiently as possible.
Alas, I also have just as little doubt that this is simply a dream. One simply needs to look at our Bangkok subway, the Airport Rail Link project or the Bangkok BRT bus system as infrastructure programmes where the value received by taxpayers, compared with the resources committed, seems debatable at best. Or consider initiatives such as flood prevention programmes for Bangkok or third-generation (3G) wireless licences, where the public need has been clear but little has been done because of a lack of political will.
Any business considering expansion or capital investment would ask the same questions. What is the potential benefit in terms of profits, productivity and market share? Will this help improve efficiency and productivity? Does this help the company relative to its competitors? How will my customers gain?
I do not think that public investment is all that different. And considering the business acumen and experience touted by both Ms Yingluck, Mr Kittiratt and, of course, Thaksin, it is reasonable to ask that they apply as much, if not more, scrutiny in the use of public money as they would if it was their own.
Source: Wichit Chantanusornsiri is a senior business reporter at the Bangkok Post. 12th July, 2012
NEWS UPDATE... 9th April, 2012
Airport link security threatens to halt service following pay dispute
BANGKOK, 9 April 2012 (NNT) - A Transport Ministry official said the State Railway Of Thailand Electrical Train (SRTET) failed to pay security guards employed at Airport Link stations a new daily minimum wage of 300 baht. Their previous minimum wage was 210 baht per day.
Asia Security Management (ACM), a subsidiary of the consortium hired to provide security for Suvannabhumi airport, is still awaiting payment of wages from the SRTET.
The official said the consortium obtained the security contract which lasted from December 2011-March 2012, during which delayed payments from the SRTET led to financial rows between the two companies.
On April 1, ACM was awarded another contract term by the railway company, and has since requested a wage increase in line with the current government’s 300-baht daily minimum wage scheme; however, The SRTET refused to comply with the request, given no government agencies, including the STRT, have received instructions to do so from the government. Asia Security Management has now threatened to halt their services following the disputes.
The official elaborated that the SRTET is planning a meeting with ACM executives to ask the company to continue providing their security services until the SRTET has been formally ordered to comply with the wage policy change.
Source: Narumon Ngamsaithong, National News Bureau Thailand, 9th April, 2012
NEWS UPDATE... 14th February, 2012
More trains destined for Airport Link, new route also planned
The Transport Ministry will buy more trains for the Airport Rail Link and build a new line from Suvarnabhumi airport to Pattaya.
Pakorn Tangjetsakao, acting president of SRT Electric Train Co under the jurisdiction of the ministry, said the company needs five more trains worth 3 billion baht to add to the eight trains it has currently.
The new trains will allow existing ones to go in for maintenance and cut passenger waiting times from 12-20 minutes to 7-10 minutes.
Deputy Transport Minister Chatt Kuldiloke said at least two trains worth about 1.2 billion baht would be ordered this year.
The ministry will also deploy vans and small buses to transport travellers to and from several locations around Bangkok to the Airport Rail Link at its Makkasan terminal in coming months.
Soythip Traisuthi, chairwoman of the State Railway of Thailand, said the state enterprise would spend 255 million baht hiring a consultant to study a new route for the Airport Rail Link, from the airport to Chon Buri and Pattaya. She expected the study to be concluded in 12 months.
In another development, the cabinet yesterday approved a request from the Transport Ministry for the Mass Rapid Transit Authority to borrow 72.25 billion baht from the Finance Ministry for the Blue Line and Green Line electric railway network extensions.
Deputy government spokesman Pakdiharn Himathongkham said 54.41 billion baht will fund the Blue Line extension from Hua Lamphong to Bang Kae and from Bang Sue to Tha Phra. Meanwhile, 17.84 billion baht will support the extension of the Green Line from Bearing to Samut Prakan.
Source: Amornrat Mahitthirook, Bangkok Post, 14th February
NEWS UPDATE... 1st January 2012
Happy 2012 From Bangkokairporttrain.com !!
NEWS UPDATE... 9th November, 2011
Water Levels In Key Waterways Near Suvarnabhumi Airport
Water levels in key waterways near Suvarnabhumi Airport are increasing slowly, while preventive measures and monitoring of the situation are underway.
The level in Lat Krabang Canal north of the airport has increased by 2 centimetres, and a branch of it in the south by 4cm. The level at the nearby Lat Krabang watergate has increased by 3cm, and at Prawet Burirom watergate by 3cm, senior airport official Suk Phuengtham said.
Airport director Somchai Sawasdiphol said the situation was under control, as the flood water surrounding the compound was between 40cm and 67cm, while the flood barriers were 3.5 metres high.
The military has repeated its pledge to defend the Bang Chan and Lat Krabang industrial estates from encroaching floods. Defence Minister General Yuthasak Sasiprapha said there was time left for the military to do their best. "These are two estates that have so far survived the floods. If we fail again here, we have failed right across the board," he said.
Engineering Institute of Thailand chief Thanes Weerasiri said Bang Chan was not protected by a surrounding flood barrier as Bang Chan Canal runs through it.
"The best way to deal with flooding is to let the water flow as fast and in as much quantity as we can," he said.
Each factory is protected by individual floodwalls of two metres high on average. Requests for water pumps have been made to the city administration.
"I cannot give a 100-per-cent guarantee that the Bang Chan estate will escape the flood waters," Thanes added.
A section of the Western Outer Ring Road is being cleared of flood water so as to link to Route 340 and provide an alternative to Rama II Road for journeys to the South. Transport Ministry permanent secretary Suphoj Samlom said cutting a flood channel through Rama II Road would be useless and deprive drivers of a viable route to the South.
Source: The Nation, 9th November, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 4th November, 2011
Suvarnabhumi Airport safe from floods
Suvarnabhumi International Airport is expected to stay dry during the worst floods in five decades that are now creeping towards the capital's centre, the airport's management said Friday.
"I am confident that we can keep Suvarnabhumi dry," said Somchai Sawasdeepon, acting general manager of Suvarnabhumi Airport, 20 kilometres east of the city centre, which has served as the main international airport for Bangkok since 2006.
The capital’s old airport, Don Mueang, 15 kilometres north of the centre, and now used only for some domestic flights, has been closed for weeks with its runway currently under a metre of water.
Bangkok’s north and north-east suburbs have been inundated by runoff from Thailand’s central plains which were flooded by the swollen Chao Phraya River last month.
The water is seeping through Bangkok en route to the Gulf of Thailand, with government authorities trying desperately to keep the inundation out of the centre of the capital by diverting the flow to the east and west of the metropolis.
"Our water management system at Suvarnabhumi is separate from Bangkok’s, so we can control it," Somchai said.
The airport is protected by 3.5-metre dyke surrounding the complex, which also includes a system of drainage canals and reservoirs with a storage capacity of 4 million cubic metres.
The reservoirs’ current level is 1 million cubic metres, Somchai said. The airport is connected to Bangkok by elevated roads and a train track.
Somchai said that passenger traffic at Suvarnabhumi Airport had increased 10 per cent in October, boosted mainly by a 14.5 per cent jump in domestic traffic as Bangkokians fled the city.
International passengers were up 3.5 per cent, but started to fall off in late October.
"After October 24, arrivals from some Asian markets such as China, Japan and India started to decline," Somchai said.
Thailand has set a target of 19 million tourist arrivals this year, but is now unlikely to achieve this as a result of the floods, which have claimed 437 lives over the past three months and caused billions of dollars in damage.
During the first nine months, some 14.4 million foreign tourists visited Thailand, up 27 per cent year-on-year, according to the Kasikorn Research Centre, a private think tank.
Source: Deutsche Presse Agentur, 4th November, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 28th October, 2011
THAI opens check-in services at Makkasan Station
Thai Airways International provides additional check-in counters at the Airport Rail Link, Makkasan Station to facilitate passengers travelling to Suvarnabhumi Airport during flooding situation.
Danuj Bunnag, THAI's Managing Director, Ground Services Business Unit, said "Passengers may find it difficult to travel to Suvarnabhumi Airport due to floods in some areas of Bangkok. To help facilitate THAI's passengers travelling on both domestic and international routes, THAI set up additional check-in counters at the Airport Rail Link, Makkasan Station."
THAI's passenger travelling to Suvarnabhumi Airport by Airport Rail Link may check-in their luggage and personal belongings at THAI's check-in counters, located on the third floor of the station, starting today from 7am until 9pm everyday.
The Airport Rail Link check-in service is open for all THAI's flights departing Suvarnabhumi Airport between 10am-1.20am. Passengers must check-in by themselves 3 hours prior to flight departure and receive their boarding pass and luggage tags. This is with the exception of passengers travelling to the US, on the route Bangkok - Los Angeles, who must check-in at Suvarnabhumi Airport only.
Source: The Nation, 28th October, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 22nd September, 2011
Improvement plan for Airport Link service
The Transport Ministry plans to buy five more trains in 2014 to increase the frequency and efficiency of the Airport RaIlRail Link service, the rail route that links Bangkok's central area to Suvarnabhumi Airport.
According to the long-term railway development plan, the ministry will buy five more trains to increase frequency of rail services to eight minutes from the current 15 minutes per arrival.
Deputy Minister Kittisakdi Hathasongkroh said yesterday that |the ministry would also increase the efficiency of the Airport Rail Link service. The improvement plan is divided into three stages. First, the Airport Rail Link will increase frequency of trains, rearrange traffic system, facilities and prepare commercial spaces. The next stage will include procurement of new trains for the City Line. Finally, it will procure five more new trains in 2014. At this stage, the Makkasan Station's surrounding area will be developed as a complex and the Airport Link route will be extended from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Dong Mueang Airport.
Kittisakdi said the ministry would start providing additional trains on November 1 to increase its frequency as planned in the first stage, expecting that this could carry more passengers to achieve 140,000 per month.
Yesterday, Airport Rail Link also launched a new campaign of its services named "Mr Airport Link" to provide solutions when any problem arises.
Currently, SRT Electrified Train Co is reviewing conditions or terms of reference of the bidding for its rental spaces at eight stations in accordance with the Transport Ministry's policy. In the initial stage, it will increase to more than 1,300 square metres of rental space for duty-free shops on |the third floor of the Makkasan Station. The rental spaces will be divided into general shops and duty-free shops.
The company will also discuss |with the Customs Department |about providing space for renting to bonded warehouses for duty-free shops.
Source: Watcharapong Thongrung., The Nation, 22nd September, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 15th September, 2011, 2011
Lower fares on way for Airport Link
The Transport Ministry will encourage commuters to use the loss-making Airport Rail Link between Suvarnabhumi airport and inner Bangkok by deploying more taxis at its inner Bangkok terminal.
It will also increase the frequency of commuter trains on the link, and cut fares.
Wan Yubamrung, secretary to Deputy Transport Minister Kittisakdi Hathasongkorh, said an insufficient number of taxis at the Makkasan terminal during rush hours was limiting the popularity of the Airport Rail Link.
The limited taxi services were the result of some influential parties demanding money from taxi drivers who wanted to pick up passengers at the Makkasan terminal.
Mr Wan, who has been appointed Airport Link Ambassador and assigned by Mr Kittisakdi to promote the Airport Rail Link, vowed to end the illicit business at the Makkasan terminal in a week. Mr Wan said he would request 20 Bangkok taxi cooperatives to send their drivers to the Makkasan terminal during peak hours.
Mr Wan also promised to improve road access to the Makkasan terminal. He said a traffic island installed by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration was blocking access from Ratchadaphisek Road. Railway authorities will ask City Hall to remove it.
Small shuttle bus services would be provided to carry commuters between the Makkasan terminal and the subway station on nearby Phetchaburi Road, pending construction of an elevated walkway between both stations.
A source said the Transport Ministry may shorten commuter train wait time on the Airport Rail Link from 15 to 10 minutes, and cut fares from 15-45 baht to a 20-baht flat rate to make the service more attractive.
Transport Minister Sukampol Suwannathat has vowed to push for construction of the so-called "Makkasan Complex" in a bid to boost passenger numbers on the Airport Rail Link.
The project at Makkasan BTS station will follow the Chamchuri Square model, a residential and commercial project on Rama IV built above Sam Yan MRT station. Developing the station would help boost its profile as the gateway to the Airport Link, he said.
upoj Saplom, the transport permanent secretary and chairman of the State Railways of Thailand board, said a consultant will conduct a feasibility study of the 517-rai Makkasan project.
ACM Sukampol also pledged to expand the Airport Rail Link system, which connects inner Bangkok with Suvarnabhumi Airport, to Don Mueang Airport and Rayong province
BTS and MRT connections to the Airport Rail Link system must also be improved to attract more users, he said. ACM Sukampol said his lobbying campaign will begin after government delivers its policy statement before parliament next week.
The minister yesterday inspected the Airport Rail Link system and insisted a flat-rate ticket price of 20 baht for the MRT, BTS and Airport Rail Link will be introduced as promised.
The State Railway of Thailand board yesterday denied a rumour it will soon close down the Airport Rail Link system over liquidity problems and a shortage of spare parts.
Supoj Saplom, the transport permanent secretary and chairman of the SRT board, dismissed as untrue a rumour that has been circulating that the liquidity problems and spare parts shortage would force the Airport Rail Link system, which connects inner Bangkok with Suvarnabhumi airport, to cease operations in a few months.
Mr Supoj said the number of passengers had been increasing.
The Airport Rail Link is also not suffering any liquidity crunch because it shares its financial accounts with the SRT which ensures that it has sufficient cash flows, Mr Supoj said.
He also denied that many Airport Rail Link employees were resigning. He said the employees viewed their jobs as being secure.
According to Mr Supoj, the increase in passenger numbers on the link recently has been a direct result of the company's decision to slash the fare for the system's Express Line from 150 baht to 90 baht per trip. The number of passengers on the Express Line has increased from 300 a day to around 2,000 a day.
"For this reason, it is impossible for us to cease our services. We are also in the middle of constructing the link between the system and the BTS skytrain, as well as the subway system at Phetchaburi station," he said.
Suchatvee Suwansawat, the dean of the Engineering Faculty at King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang and a director of the SRT Electric Train Co which runs the Airport Rail Link system, backed up Mr Supoj's statement.
He said the number of Airport Rail Link passengers last month on both the express and ordinary services topped 998,000.
Meanwhile, Somchai Sujjapongse, the director-general of the General State Enterprise Policy Office (SEPO), said that the SEPO has proposed to the economic team of the Pheu Thai Party-led coalition that the Airport Rail Link should be expanded to run to Pattaya City and Chon Buri.
Such an expansion could help the system attract more domestic and international tourists between Bangkok and the resort city.
The SEPO has also recommended that the Airport Rail Link should be connected to the old Don Mueang international airport as well, Mr Somchai said.
Source: Bangkok Post
NEWS UPDATE... 2nd August, 2011
Airport Rail Link Not Facing Serious Management Issue
The State Railway of Thailand has come out to say the Airport Rail Link is not facing serious management and financial issues, and reassures that train services will run as usual.
The State Railway of Thailand Vice President Pakorn Tungjedsakaow, the acting board of director of the Airport Rail Link or ARL claims that the ARL is not facing serious management or financial problems, and will not stop operating.
He said it's normal for a new company to face minor problems, as it was just established in February this year.
Pakorn said all management processes are proceeding according to their business plan, which projects to reach the break-even point within the next five years.
He added that ARL has requested a 2-billion baht budget for its services, of which the State Railway and the Finance Ministry has approved 140 million baht.
Pakorn said the ARL will have to find funds from other sources.
He went on to say the company is borrowing spare train parts from its spare trains, while confirming that the service is safe for all travelers.
Meanwhile, he admitted that the number of commuters using the ARL service is below the targeted level, as they hope to receive 42,000 passengers per day for their City Line, and 2,200 passengers per day for their Express Line.
However, the Express Line has just 300 to 400 passengers per day.
He added that the expansion of the Phaya Thai Station has increased the number of passengers to 2,300 people per day.
Source: MCOT online news
NEWS UPDATE... 25th June, 2011
Thailand's domestic carrier Bangkok Airways closed its check-in service at Bangkok's City Air Terminal, also known as Makkasan Station.
Airline public relations director Nantika Worawan said the service is closed temporarily, as few passengers used the facility on average per day.
Bangkok Airways initially expected some 400 passengers would check in at the City Air Terminal, or about 20 per cent of approximately 2,000 travellers using the carrier at Suvarnabhumi Airport. The figure expected was later lowered to 20-50 passengers per day.
Ms Nantika said such low numbers were due to the fact that it was more practical and convenient for travellers to take a taxi directly to the airport.
She said the carrier will re-open its counter when the government attracts more riders to use the Makkasan Station service, which may be positively affected by providing added convenience in travelling, and building a department store within the compound.
Meanwhile, Thai Airways International (THAI) continues to offer its city check-in service, but the number of counters was reduced from four to one, for only some 15 passengers use the facility daily. The airline has not yet halted service as the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) is not charging for use of the counter.
Thailand's Suvarnabhumi Airport Airport Link began full operation in January when its check-in service was opened for the first time.
The 28-km rail link connects Suvarnabhumi Airport in adjacent Samut Prakan province and the City Air Terminal in Bangkok’s Makkasan area
Source: MCOT online news
NEWS UPDATE... 18th April, 2011
BANGKOK POST SPECIAL REPORT: Passengers unhappy with shoddy service are looking elsewhere
Overpriced Airport link is 'a debacle'
There have been complaints that the terminals at the stations are badly signposted; there are no escalators; and there are no trolleys for passengers with heavy bags to use. Other complaints include the lack of a car park and no facilities linking the stations to public transport.
Passengers also complained the train "looks old" and the seats are uncomfortable. Many passengers are also upset by the way the doors to the train shut with heavy force. Basic technical equipment has also failed. Permanent secretary for transport Supoj Saplom admitted the problems and lack of facilities stemmed from the operation's substandard design.
The 28-kilometre Airport Rail Link between central Bangkok and Suvarnabhumi airport has been plagued with these problems after less than one year of trials and service.
On March 27, the express non-stop train service of the Airport Rail Link from Makkasan station to Suvarnabhumi was halted due to a technical problem, although commuter trains on the line had been operating as normal. Carbon brushes _ an essential component in the brakes of the electric-powered train that were supposed to last six months failed after only three days of use.
Pakorn Tangjedsakao, acting managing director of SRT Electric Train Co, which manages the rail link project, said express train services were halted after the company ran out of the carbon brushes, which are worth about 100,000 baht each.
Mr Pakorn said it was also found the express train's disk brakes developed cracks and the brake pads were also wearing down faster than usual. The company has contacted Siemens, the contractor, to fix the problems as quickly as possible, Mr Pakorn said.
He said the train must have a stock of spare parts worth about 10% of the price of the locomotive.
He said the trains under the project are worth 4.65 billion baht so the stock of spare parts must be worth about 460 million baht.
But at the initial stage of the project, there were problems related to the budget and no contract was made to arrange for the stocks of spare parts, Mr Pakorn said.
He said the company's executives have asked the board members to allocate a budget of about 270 million baht to buy spare parts.
The service started operating on a trial basis on June 1 last year providing free rides. The Airport Rail Link began full commercial operations with promotional fares on Aug 23 last year.
The Airport Rail Link offers City Line, which runs from Phaya Thai to Suvarnabhumi with a full range of stops. The 30-minute ride costs a flat rate of 15 baht. The Express Line runs non-stop from Makkasan to the airport, taking just 15 minutes and costs 100 baht. Trains run from 6am to midnight.
After Jan 1, 2011, fares for the City Line varied from 15 baht to 45 baht, while the Express Line rose to 150 baht.
Permanent secretary for transport Supoj Saplom said the increase in fares for the Express Line has led to a sharp drop in the number of passengers to 700 a day, below the target of 2,200, although the City Line still can attract between 36,000 to 40,000 a day.
Mr Supoj said the company earns about 35 million baht a month but its expenditure is much higher at about 77 million baht a month. This means the losses total 42 million baht a month.
Mr Supoj said the solution is to attract more passengers to the Express Line, most of whom are travellers and tourists with heavy bags, by installing more facilities. He admitted that the inconvenience and the lack of facilities stem from the substandard design. Urgent steps are being taken to make improvements, he said.
State Railway of Thailand governor Yutthana Thapcharoen said the SRT has set aside a budget of 646 million baht to improve and build facilities and signposts at all stations within this year.
About 250 million baht will be spent on improving the Makkasan station. Of that amount, 80 million baht will be allocated to build a 130m-skywalk to link the concourse on the Makkasan station to the underground railway's Phetchaburi station.
Deputy government spokesman Supachai Jaisamut said the cabinet resolved on April 12 that the Finance Ministry arrange a loan worth 1.86 billion baht for SRT Electric Train Co to help the company run the Airport Rail Link project.
Kantapa Piriyapongsa, an office employee, complained the trains do not arrive on time, resulting in passengers missing flights at Suvarnabhumi.
Rungroj Piyapanuwat, a teacher, said the doors to the trains close violently and the seats in the trains are uncomfortable.
Nuttaya Jaisongkror, a student, said she had to travel a long way by taxi to reach Thap Chang station and that there were no signposts at the station.
Sri-arun Jangtiyanont, an office worker, said there were no escalators for passengers with heavy bags and the lifts are too far away.
Source: Amornrat Mahitthirook, Bangkok Post - 18th Aprl, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 30th March, 2011
Express train service to Suvarnabhumi Airport suspended
BANGKOK, March 30 - The Airport Link's express train services to Suvarnabhumi Airport were suspended due to a lack of spare parts, which are delivered from a company in Germany.
The "Express Line" train service to Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok's main airport, was suspended but is expected to resume service on Monday as Siemens AG, the train manufacturer, has sent new spare parts for the power-connecting carbon brush mechanism which is due to. arrive Sunday, according to Pakorn Tangjetsakao, acting president of the SRT Electric Train company.
Meanwhile, the "City Line" stopped operating yesterday because its carbon brushes are worn out and there are no spare parts left. Three other "City Line" trains are still operating on a reduced schedule. It now runs every 20 minutes, a wider gap in frequency than the normal schedule of every 15 minutes, so it inconvenienced about 40,000 passengers and the trains are crowded during rush hours.
However, Siemens AG informed the SRT Electric Train Company that it will speed up the procurement of 32 carbon brushes and will have them delivered on Wednesday, so all nine trains (both the Express and City Lines) can resume services ahead of schedule as the service. suspension causes losses of about Bt1.2 million (US $ 40,000) per day.
In the long term, Siemens must solve the quick wearing down of the carbon brushes, which is caused by the problem in the tunnel design at Suvarnabhumi station.
Source: MCOT online news
NEWS UPDATE... 29th March, 2011
Airport Link temporarily suspends operation
Source: The Nation, 29th March, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 3rd January, 2011
Airport Rail Link to Begin Full Operation Tomorrow
After running commercial services for Bangkok commuters since August of last year, the Airport Rail Link is scheduled to begin full operations TOMORROW.
The State Railway of Thailand, or SRT, has voiced confidence that the Airport Rail Link project, which transports travelers and commuters between central Bangkok and the Suvarnabhumi Airport is ready for full operations beginning TOMORROW.
On its first day, a luggage check-in system at Makkasan city air terminal delivering luggage directly to the airport will be available for travelers. For those who seek to check in and transport their luggage to the airport can do so 3 to 13 hours prior to their boarding time.
During the first stage, however, the service is available only for express line users, who are flying Thai International and Bangkok Airways. About rail fares, express line users will be charged 150 baht for non-stop service from Makkasan terminal to the Airport and city line users will be charged between 15 and 45 baht based on distance. The services will be available from 6 AM to midnight everyday.
Earlier, Transport Ministry Permanent Secretary Supoj Sublhom ordered authorities to speed up construction and equipment installation and have it finished as scheduled by TOMORROW. In a related development, a skywalk connecting Makkasan terminal to the Petchburi underground Station is under construction and is expected to be finished Midyear.
Source: Thai Asean News Network
NEWS UPDATE... 19th December, 2010
Makkasan Station Check in services on 4th January
Suvarnabhumi Rail Link will begin check-in services for Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways & Lufthansa, at Makkasan Station on 4th January.....More News to Follow
Source: SRT via MCOT
NEWS UPDATE... 7th September, 2010
YouTube Video - Rail Link between Suvarnabhumi Airport & Bangkok City
NEWS UPDATE... 23rd August, 2010
Airport Rail Link begins full commercial operations
The Airport Link connecting downtown Bangkok and Suvarnabhumi airport began its first day of commercial services on Monday, with trains now running from 6am to midnight.
Transport Minister Sohpon Zarum said the Airport Link can carry up to 50,000 passengers a day, generating revenue of one million baht a day.
"I believe this rail link will help ease traffic, lower pollution and make it easier for the public," Mr Sohpon said.
The Airport Link's City Line will run every 15 minutes and the Express Line every 30 minutes. Both lines operate from 6am to midnight.
The trains have a maximum speed of 160 kilometres per hour.
The City Line will make eight stops across the capital, starting at Phaya Thai, before heading to the airport. The trains take 30 minutes from Phaya Thai to Suvarnabhumi. Passengers using the City Line pay a flat rate of 15 baht for a trip during the promotion period. Fares will range from 15 baht to 45 baht, depending on the distance travelled, after Jan 1, 2011.
The Express Line is a 15-minute non-stop journey between Makkasan and Suvarnabhumi and the fare is 100 baht per trip. However, the fare will be raised to 150 baht after the check-in system are fully set up at Makkasan station.
The Airport Link's luggage service is not fully set up yet. The State Railway of Thailand expected it to be operational before the end of this year. People with many bags may have some difficulties during the check-in process.
The service has been operating on a trial basis since June 1, attracting about 17,000 people a day travelling for free.
The construction of the project began in June 2004, with the completion date set for May 2009 for launch in August 2009.
Several factors caused the long delay, including flood at the construction site, the State Railway of Thailand's failure to deliver land to contractor and power supply problems.
For further information about Airport Rail Link service, call the State Railway of Thailand hotline at 1690.
Source: Bangkok Post:Online News, Transport 23/08/2010
NEWS UPDATE... 23rd August, 2010
SRT: Airport Link ready for business
The Airport Link connecting Bangkok and Suvarnabhumi airport is 100 per cent ready for the first day of commercial services, State Railway of Thailand governor Yuthana Thapcharoen said on Sunday.
"The stations, the rails and the overall train system are ready for service. The Airport Link will run from 6am to midnight," Mr Yuthana said.
The City Line will make eight stops across the capital starting from Phayathai before heading to the airport. Its fares start at 15 baht.
The Express Service is a non-stop journey between Makkasan and Suvarnabhumi and the fare is 100 baht per trip. However, the fare will be raised to 150 baht after the check-in system are fully set up at Makkasan station.
The Airport Link is expected to cater for 15,000 to 50,000 passengers a day.
"Independent safety and system certification engineers (ICE) have issued a certificate standard for the trains, while security personnel and police are overseeing order and security in each station," the SRT chief said.
Source: Bangkok Post:Online News 22/08/2010
NEWS UPDATE... 22nd August, 2010
Airport Link begins commercial operation Monday
BANGKOK, Aug 22 -- After long delays in construction and several test runs, Suvarnabhumi airport's Airport Link begins commercial services Monday with special discount fares offered until the end of 2010, shortening travel times for inbound and outbound air travellers as well as easing arrivals and departures compared to existing airport transport.
From Monday onward, arriving and departing passengers as well as relatives or friends seeing them off from Suvarnabhumi International Airport, in Bangkok's adjacent province of Samut Prakan, will save significant time in travelling as the Airport Rail Link project, linking the airport and the Makkasan and Phaya Thai areas in downtown Bangkok, commences operations.
To ensure smooth operations, State Railways of Thailand (SRT) Governor, Yutthana Thapcharoen, inspected trains and other facilities whose construction began in mid-2005, for he wanted to make sure that nothing goes wrong.
The 28km rail link connects Suvarnabhumi Airport in the eastern flank of the capital and the City Air Terminal in Bangkok's Makkasan area, where passengers are able to check in their baggage.
With the speed capacity of 160km per hour, the train will serve eight stations and can cater up to 50,000 passengers daily.
City Line commuter trips, with set fares at Bt30, take 30 minutes to reach the airport and will operate 24 hours from Phaya Thai station. Trains pass through six stations.
The Express Service operates 19 hours daily from 6am to 1am and provides a non-stop journey between the City Terminal and the airport with the promotional fare set at Bt100.
SRT plans to establish a subsidiary firm to administer the Airport Link and will seek Cabinet approval through the Transport Ministry by raising registered capital to Bt2 billion from Bt500 million. (MCOT online news)
Source: BANGKOK, 22nd August 2010, MCOT online news
NEWS UPDATE... 18th August, 2010
Airport Link opens Monday
The airport rail link is scheduled to open for full commercial operations on Monday, the State Railway of Thailand says.
SRT governor Yutthana Tapcharoen yesterday said the rail operations would be divided into ordinary and express services.
The airport rail link is scheduled to open for full commercial operations on Monday, the State Railway of Thailand says.
SRT governor Yutthana Tapcharoen yesterday said the rail operations would be divided into ordinary and express services.
The ordinary service, known as the city line, would charge a fare of 15 baht and would make eight stops along the Phaya Thai-Suvarnabhumi airport route.
The express line would run non-stop from Makkasan to the airport and would charge 100 baht.
He said both services would run from 6am to midnight with a train leaving every 15 minutes.
Baggage check-in at Makkasan station was not available yet as the line was still being test-run, Mr Yutthana said.
He said the check-in service was expected to be available later this year.
The Airport Rail Link is now operating free of charge from 6am to 10am and from 4pm to 9pm.
Source: BANGKOK, 18th August 2010, Bangkok Post, News
NEWS UPDATE... 17th August, 2010
Airport Link to open for business
The Airport Link connecting Bangkok and Suvarnabhumi airport will begin commercial services next Monday, State Railway of Thailand governor Yuthana Thapcharoen said on Tuesday.
Mr Yuthana said the Airport Link's Express Service and City Line systems will run every 15 minutes from 6am to midnight.
The City Line will make eight stops across the capital starting from Phayathai before heading to the airport. Its fares start at 15 baht.
The Express Service is a non-stop journey between Makkasan and Suvarnabhumi and the fare is 100 baht per trip.
The baggage handling system at Makkasan station was still in a testing period but should be operational before the end of this year. People with many bags may have some difficulties during the check-in process, the SRT chief said.
Source: BANGKOK, 17th August 2010, Bangkok Post, Breaking News
NEWS UPDATE... 10th August, 2010
Thailand ready for rail talks with China
BANGKOK, August 10 - Thailand and China are expected to open talks this month on plans to jointly invest in Thailand's new standard-gauge rail link and high-speed train projects
A panel chaired by Korbsak Sabhavasu, secretary-general to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, yesterday set up two subcommittees to work out a feasibility study for the projects.
The Thai government wants to invest jointly with China in a high-speed rail line from Suvarnabhumi airport to Rayong on the Eastern Seaboard through Pattaya and Laem Chabang, and a standard-gauge link from China through Vietnam, Laos and Nong Khai in Thailand's northeast to connect with Malaysia and Singapore.
A new standard-gauge rail line from Nong Khai to the southern border with Malaysia is expected to cost 300 billion baht.
The line would link at Nong Khai to a line China plans to build through Vietnam and Laos.
Mr Korbsak said the high-speed rail project linking Suvarnabhumi and Rayong was estimated to cost 30 billion baht.
He said the two subcommittees were required to complete their studies in two weeks.
Officials from the two countries are required to complete a draft memorandum of understanding ahead of Mr Abhisit's visit to China scheduled for early next month.
The new rail line would benefit travel through the region as the train network is expected to be built from Kunming through Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Malaysia to connect with Singapore.
The tourism industry would benefit greatly from the new network, Mr Korbsak said.
He said the 1,000-kilometre line in Thailand would be developed along the existing State Railway of Thailand track and would take about three years to build.
Trains on the new line would run at 200 kilometres an hour compared with the SRT average of 60km/h.
The investment is in addition to 170billion baht earmarked for upgrading the SRT's services and the speed of its trains, Mr Korbsak said.
The SRT project is aimed at improving safety standards and increasing speeds on its one metre-gauge lines to between 80km/h and 100km/h from the present 60km/h.
Mr Korbsak said a feasibility study for the high-speed train from Bangkok to Rayong would go ahead even if Thailand failed to sign a deal with China. Gold.
Source: BANGKOK, 10th August 2010 (Chatrudee Theparat, Bangkok Post, Business)
NEWS UPDATE... 9th August 2010
Airport Link a Potential Tourism Gold Bonanza
The long-awaited opening of the Airport Rail Link on Aug 23 will substantially enhance the convenience of visiting Bangkok but a number of critical missing links impede connectivity with the city's mass-transit systems.
Hotels in the vicinity of the Rail Link stations and terminals at Phya Thai, Rajaprarop and Makkasan will gain a significant competitive advantage, especially in the Rajadamri area, as well as those along Phetchaburi, Asok and Rachadaphisek roads.
Providing easy access right under the Suvarnabhumi terminal, the Rail Link is smooth and efficient. The cars are spacious with plenty of room for luggage. Visitors will also enjoy panoramic views of Bangkok, including greenery, housing estates, temples, mosques, malls and office towers.
But at least three problems will impede what would otherwise have been a seamless flow of passengers between the Rail Link, the BTS SkyTrain and the MRT underground rail line as they commute from the airport to various destinations, and vice versa:
- The BTS-Rail Link interchange at Phya Thai: There is no escalator down from the BTS station to the level of the connecting walkway to the Rail Link station. The existing escalator only goes up. Those going down must use steps, a problem if one has luggage. There are no luggage trolleys at the station either. Besides, a small part of the walkway from the SkyTrain station to the Rail Link station is being built but is projected to be completed by the launch date.
- The MRT-Rail Link connection at Makkasan: This should have been possible from the Makkasan terminal to the Phetchaburi MRT station, but it does not exist. An MRT executive said a walkway was awaiting approval, and would take three months to build once approved. Hence, those getting off at the Makkasan Rail Link terminal cannot access the Phetchaburi MRT station.
- Lack of a single commuter ticket between the airport Rail Link, the SkyTrain and the MRT is the biggest obstacle. Arriving visitors heading for say, the Hua Lamphong rail terminal, will have to first buy the Rail Link ticket, then a SkyTrain ticket and then an MRT ticket separately at each interchange.
Surapong Laoha-Unya, chief operating officer of the BTS SkyTrain, acknowledged that this has long been an issue, for both technical and administrative reasons. Not only are the ticketing technologies entirely different, but one company (BTS) is private while the other is a quasi-public organisation, which means two entirely different mindsets, procedures and systems.
Mr Surapong said a common ticket between the SkyTrain and the MRT had been in the works for three to four years. Now that the Rail Link is due to open, there is a new sense of urgency and a solution is expected sometime next year.
After the Rail Link is officially opens, tickets will cost only 15 baht per trip per person until the end of 2010. The system is expected to lose money for years, although some of the cost may be offset by advertising in rail cars and stations, especially at the airport and Makkasan.
Once these issues are sorted out, however, the benefits for Bangkok's tourism industry will be phenomenal. Mr Surapong said the BTS, which opened in 1999, was well aware of the tourism advantage and projects clear increases in ridership after the Rail Link opens.
He noted that visitors had benefited from thousands of discounted BTS passes sold to the tourism sector between 2002 and July 2010, including 342,152 sold to hotels along the SkyTrain routes, 568,968 to tour operators and 93,025 to the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau. In 2009, sales to tour operators totalled 81,244 passes, hotels 45,415 and the TAT and TCEB 18,000 passes.
Mr Surapong said the Rail Link would also help boost sales of the SkyTrain's one-day pass which costs only 120 baht and can be used for unlimited trips to tourist spots along BTS routes.
"Visitors with little time to spare don't like sitting in traffic," he said. "The Rail Link will help all the mass-transit systems boost sales, especially to the growing numbers of visitors from new markets such as India."
Writer: Imtiaz Muqbil is executive editor of Travel Impact Newswire, an e-mailed feature and analysis service focusing on the Asia-Pacific travel industry.
BANGKOK, July 21 - Suvarnabhumi Airport's Rail Link commercial services will begin August 23 with special discount fares offered until the end of the year.
After presiding at ceremony during staff training for the Airport Rail Link project linking Suvarnabhumi Airport and Makkasan area in downtown Bangkok, Permanent Secretary for Transport Supot Saplom said he believed that independent engineers will issue the certificate permitting the project to open for service, as all flaws have been fixed, and test-runs by State Railway of Thailand (SRT) workers continue to be conducted.
The 28km rail link connects Suvarnabhumi Airport in Samut Prakan province east of Bangkok and the City Air Terminal (CAT) in Bangkok's Makkasan area, where passengers will be able to check in their baggage.
Services of both the Express Service and the City Line will be operational on the same tracks at speeds of up to 160km per hour.
The Express Service is a 15-minute non-stop journey between the City Terminal and the airport with a fare at Bt150 per trip. During the opening period, the fare charged will be Bt100.
City Line commuter trips, with set fares at Bt15-Bt45, take 30 minutes to reach the airport, departing from Phaya Thai, Ratchaprarop, Makkasan, Asoke, Ramkhamhaeng, Hua Mak, Ban Thap Chang, and Lat Krabang stations, and will end at the last stop of Suvarnabhumi. The promotional fare will be Bt15 for all journeys during this period.
Meanwhile, Mr Supot said the baggage check-in system developed by SRT and Airports of Thailand (AoT) for Makkasan Station will be ready for full operation by the year end.
The transport official said there will be over 300 personnel working for the Airport Link project.
Concerning setting up a subsidiary firm to manage the project, Mr Supot said he will propose it to the ministry so that the company's registered capital can be increased from Bt500 million (US$15 million) to Bt2 billion (US$60 million). The matter will be then proposed to the Cabinet for consideration.
Source: BANGKOK, 21st July 2010 (MCOT online news)
NEWS UPDATE... 10th July, 2010
Suvarnabhumi Rail Link services start in August
The Airport Link train connecting Bangkok and Suvarnabhumi airport will commence commercial operations on August 23, Transport Minister Sohpon Zarum said on Tuesday.
Mr Zarum said the date was confirmed after consultation with the State Railway of Thailand.
NEWS UPDATE... 28th June, 2010
2 More Airport Link stations to be opened on 1 July
BANGKOK, 28th June 2010 – The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) will open two more stations on the Airport Link now operating on test run, due to popularity of the service.
Starting on 1 July, the elevated train running between Bangkok's inner city and Suvarnabhumi Airport will stop at Ratchaprarop and Thub Chang stations in addition to the 5 stations which have been opened for free trial run since 1 June. An estimated number of 80,000 people have already tried out the service.
During the test run, the train is operated on weekdays, from 07.00-10.00 hrs and 16.00-19.00 hrs, departing from the terminal every 20 minutes. The trip takes approximately 30 minutes from the downtown Phya Thai terminal to Suvarnabhumi Airport, with 4 stops at Ratchaprarop, Ramkhamhaeng, Hua Mak, and Thub Chang stations along the line.
The Airport Link is expected to be put on commercial service in August 2010.
People interested in a free ride can contact service counters at the train stations indicated before taking the journey.
Source: BANGKOK, 28th June 2010 (NNT)
NEWS UPDATE... 14th June, 2010
AMAZING RACE TO SUVARNABHUMI
BANGKOK, 14 June 2010 (Bangkok Post) – The Airport Rail Link to Suvarnabhumi has finally arrived after almost four years of waiting. But while it may be the talk of the town, there are still teething troubles and complaints about service and problems at the Makkasan terminal. For those who have yet to travel on the new train, the Bangkok Post sent two reporters on a race to the airport - one by high-speed train, the other by taxi, which many say is faster and cheaper. Both started from the same point at Siam Paragon last Tuesday morning.
Our Airport Link commuter took 46 minutes and spent just 67 baht - 37 baht for a taxi plus 30 baht for a motorbike taxi - as the train is currently free, but it will cost 150 baht once fully operational. Her competitor paid 270 baht, including 70 baht in expressway tolls, for her 25-minute cab ride.
Whatever the result of our amazing race, the taxi/train debate will continue for some time.
Source: June 14th, 2010 by Bangkok Post (Business)
NEWS UPDATE... 1st June, 2010
Bankokians flock to test airport link service
BANGKOK, 1 June 2010 (NNT) – Many Thai people, mostly Bangkokians have flocked to test the airport link service from Phya Thai district to Suvarnabhumi airport on the first day of its trial operation on Tuesday. Permanent Secretary for Transport, Supoj Saplom, said the airport link service would provide convenience for people travelling from the heart of the capital city to Suvarnabhumi International Airport as well as lessen road traffic.
Mr Supoj noted that the trains would be released every 20 minutes while their operation would be separated into two shifts, namely morning shift from 7.00 to 10.00 hrs and afternoon shift from 16.00 to 19.00 hrs every day. He said the test run would last for about two months.
The airport link service is now running from Phya Thai to Suvarnabhumi; however. Another two stations at Hua Mak and Ramkhamhaeng will be available very soon, the permanent secretary promised.
Regarding the fares, passengers using city-line trains (stop at eight stations) will be charged 15-45 THB while those using express ones (non-stop directly from Phya Thai to Suvarnabhumi) will be charged 150 THB a trip.
Source: June 1st, 2010 by National News Bureau Thailand
NEWS UPDATE... 31st May, 2010
Airport Link Starts Test Run Tomorrow
The train linking the Suvarnabhumi Airport to the Phayathai area will open for test runs from tomorrow onwards. The general public will be allowed to use the train for free from tomorrow to August 2010.
Source: May 31st, 2010 by Thai-Asian News Network
NEWS UPDATE... 29th April, 2010
Soft launch of Airport Rail Link suspended due to political turmoil
BANGKOK, April 29 (TNA) – Thailand's Ministry of Transport has postponed its April 30 soft opening of the Airport Rail Link for safety reasons but commercial service will operate in July as scheduled, said Minister Sophon Zarum.
The suspension followed the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) concern over the safety of commuters who would use the test-run Airport Rail Link service planned to take place on April 30.
r Sophon, however, assurances that the postponement will not affect its commercial service in July. When the political situation eases, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) will test rail and safety systems in preparation to the official opening.
However, the SRT offers a test ride for government officials or employees of private companies upon request in a group of 100 or 200 persons.
Mr Sophon said that Airport Rail Link’s route from Phaya Thai station to Suvarnbhumi Airport station currently is in sensitive areas which need special monitoring after attacks occurred in the past week, including at explosions at BTS Skytrain’s Sala Daeng station.
Consequently the ministry will postpone the soft launch and no date has been set at the moment, the minister explained.
The 28-kilometre Airport Rail Link project connecting Suvarnabhumi Airport with the city centre, began the special test run to the public on December5.
The SRT expects to serve up to 50,000 commuters daily. (TNA)
NEWS UPDATE... 31st March, 2010
Transport Ministry Inspects Airport Link's Progress
The Transport Ministry has inspected the progress of the Airport Link which connects Suvarnabhumi Airport to Bangkok's downtown, and has found various problems. However, they believe the train link will be completed and in operation by July this year.
The chairman of the committee to evaluate the progress of the Airport Link, Thianchot Jongpheephian, disclosed that independent consulting engineers are in the process of inspecting the safety of the Airport Link, and have found several flaws that need to be fixed immediately.
He quoted the engineers as saying that the backup electrical system does not work automatically when the major electrical system malfunctions. What's more, the radio communication between trains and control units does not operate properly, and fire exits also need to be addressed. He said fiber cables should be installed at the mouth of tunnels and more fire exits must be added.
The chairman said related officials must report on the progress to the committee every week, and the upcoming meeting on the issue is scheduled for April 7th.
He anticipates that the Airport Link will begin operation in either July or August this year. Transport Minister Sophon Saram said the mass transit system is likely to begin commercial operation by July. He added that the State Railway of Thailand will test the project in late April by operating the train four times a day for three months, to ensure safety. He said the Airport Link is 90 per cent completed, as planned by the Transport Ministry.
Source: March 31st, 2010 by Thai-Asian News Network
NEWS UPDATE... 19th March, 2010
State Railway: Airport rail link soft launch in April
BANGKOK, March 19 (TNA) – The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) will soft launch
its Airport Rail Link in April, but commercial service will not be offered until July,
Transport Minister Sophon Zarum said Friday.
Mr Sophon on Friday examined the current status of the airport rail link project by boarding a train at Makkasan.
The safety system is on target at 90 per cent readiness, according to the ministry plan. The Airport Rail Link will run eight trips to and from Suvarnabhumi Airport in April, he said.
Independent safety and system certification engineers will check the system during the test run and will certificate standard for the trains three months later. The ministry is expected to open the commercial service at the end of July after safety certification.
The ministry is considering that the Airport Rail Link (ARL) will first run from Phayathai Station to Suvarnabhumi Station although the connection with the BTS Skytrain (Bangkok's elevated train system) at Phayathai Station is not yet finished.
SRT is not prepared to open Makkasan Station as a terminal during the initial test period because the spacious station requires many additional security staff, Mr Sophon said.
A security company has been sought to work at all stations and if the process cannot be finished in time, temporary security guards will be hired.
The airport link doesn’t need a spacious station as a terminal as it will increase the financial burden for the SRT, said the minister. (TNA)
Source: March 19th, 2010 by TNA
NEWS UPDATE... 4th March, 2010
Airport link launch delayed
The State Railway of Thailand is delaying the opening of its Airport Rail Link after it found the developer Siemens would be unable to finish the railway on time.
SRT governor Yutthana Thapcharoen yesterday said his agency had planned to start commercial services between inner Bangkok and Suvarnabhumi airport next month, but Siemens was not ready to hand over the system.
The opening would be put off for at least a few more months.
Mr Yutthana said Siemens had not installed all 70 surveillance cameras required along the railway. Radio communications do not cover the link's tunnel at the airport and the power supply for the railway was not yet stable. The installation of the cameras should be finished next week, and Siemens would then turn its attention to the radio communications and put in place a back-up power supply.
"The power supply is a big problem," Mr Yuthana said. "It must pass tests. Trains will stop if the service starts and encounters a blackout."
He said there were also other smaller problems. He had ordered staff to report any problems so he could alert the SRT board, which would then find ways to solve them.
Mr Yuthana said it would take three more months to test the 28km, 26 billion baht system after Siemens handed it over to the SRT. The agency will seek compensation from the German company for the delays, Mr Yutthana said.
Source: March 4th, 2010 by bangkokpost.com
Pure Gold NEWS UPDATE... 12 January, 2010
Airport Link faces more delay
It is very unlikely that Airport Link can start commercial operations this April as earlier announced. The service now faces delays, possibly until August.
State Railway of Thailand governor, Yuthana Thapchareon, talked to the Thai press after visiting the project, last week, noting there are still three main areas that have not been completed.
They are: communications system between stations especially those that link the system to the police in case of security or safety related incident; installation of CCTV and gate systems at some stations. They will need to be certified by an Independent Safety and System Certification Engineer before the Airport Link can be opened for services.
After inspection, SRT did not approved the rail system and electronic and mechanic system contracted by B Grimm International. No reason for this decision was given.
More importantly, SRT has missed the deadline to set up a subsidiary company to manage the Airport Link. It has also failed to hire more than 30% of a required 400 staff who will be needed to run the service. They also require training.
Accoding to the original contract, the rail link was supposed to be operational in 2008, but disagreements between the SRT and its union as well as delays in the handover of land for stations were the main culprits.
Source: January 11, 2010 by Rapeepat Mantanarat - www..ttrweekly.com
Gold NEWS UPDATE... 4th December 2009
PM: Airport Link opening before April
Transport Minister Sohpon Zarum had confirmed the 28-kilometre Airport Rail Link connecting Suvarnabhumi airport with Phaya Thai and Makkasan in downtown Bangkok will be in service before April, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Friday.
The State of Railway of Thailand, which runs the project, is in the process of checking technical systems to ensure its readiness, he said.
"The transport minister has confirmed that the Airport Link will be opened before April," said Mr Abhisit.
On Friday afternoon the prime minister presided over the opening of a series of test runs of the new airport train service at Makkasan station and took a ride to Suvarnabhumi airport.
The opening ceremony was attended by about 1,000 people including cabinet members and foreign diplomats.
A large number of people turned up to get tickets on the test runs, which will continue out until Dec 7.
Mr Abhisit also said the government will try to hurry up the implementation of the high-speed train project.
There are four high-speed train routes planned: Bangkok - Chiang Mai (745 km), Bangkok - Nong Khai (615 km), Bangkok - Chanthaburi (330 km), and Bangkok - Padang Besar (985 km).
The prime minister said priority would be given to the Bangkok - Chanthaburi route. He had given instructions that a feasibility study of the first part of the route, between Bangkok and Rayong. should be completed in 45 days.
The Council of Economic Ministers on Nov 11 also approved in principle the SRT's plan to spend 100 bilion baht for improvement of rail tracks throughout the country, to purchase more locomotives and employ and train more staff.
Source: 4/12/2009 at 03:27 PM - By BangkokPost.com
NEWS UPDATE... 15th November 2009
Suvarnabhumi Airport Link to start week-long official test run Dec 5
BANGKOK, Nov 15 (TNA) --- The long-delayed Airport Rail Link project, providing direct rail service to and from Suvarnabhumi Airport, will officially start its test run December 5 as scheduled earlier, coinciding with the birthday celebrations of His Majesty the King, State Railway of Thailand (SRT) governor Yuthana Tupcharoen said Sunday.
During the test run, free service will be provided to the public from 9 am to 12 noon and 1 pm to 4 pm daily all week and train drivers will be technical staff of Siemens, manufacturer and installer of the rail system, as SRT has not yet received test run operation training from Siemens, said Mr. Yuthana.
The SRT board met Friday, chaired by Ministry of Transport deputy permanent secretary Thawalrat Onsira, agreeing in principle to hire Deutsche Bahn International (DBI) of Germany to administer the rail service between Suvarnabhumi International Airport and terminal stations in Bangkok.
DBI has been asked to adjust its management system to match SRT demands.
Changing an earlier agreement, SRT has been directed to renegotiate the DBI contract to maintain cleanliness at stations, the maintenance centre and the overall rail route, as the work could be done by SRT, and also calling for lower fees on the part of DBI.
A subsidiary firm to be initially called Airport Link Co., Ltd. will be established with registered capital of Bt500 million.
The 28-km rail link connects Suvarnabhumi International Airport in adjacent Samut Prakan province and the City Air Terminal in Bangkok's Makkasan area.
Transport for airport express riders and local commuters will run on the same track with the same equipment, but with a staggered schedule. Premium-fare express services will run on the hour between Suvarnabhumi Airport and City Air Terminal, while the City Line service will stop at six local stations along the route.
(TNA) Thai News Agency
NEWS UPDATE... 8th October 2009
German Firm Picked To Run Airport Rail link
An overseas company will operate the express rail link to Suvarnabhumi Airport for the first few years of its operation, the State Railway of Thailand says.
The SRT union has opposed a plan to set up a subsidiary to operate the service, so an overseas contractor would be hired instead, SRT governor Yuthana Thapcharoen said yesterday.
DB International GmbH, which is installing the operating system for the railway link and training staff, would be hired to run the service as well, he said.
The link is scheduled to open in April. Mr Yuthana said the SRT would need over 500 million baht from the government as a start-up fund to run the Airport Rail Link.
The sum will cover management costs, insurance for trains and passengers, and the cost of running the railway stations.
The governor was among passengers who went on an unofficial trial run of the rail link yesterday. The SRT handed out free tickets to the public.
Further trial runs will be held on Oct 14, 21 and 28 and Nov 4. Daily trial runs will be held from Dec 5 to April.
Mr Yuthana said passengers on the test run from Makkasan station to the airport gave the service a thumbs up.
Source: Bangkokpost, 8th October, 2009
NEWS UPDATE... 7th October 2009
Airport Rail Link Test Run Begins
BANGKOK, Oct 7 (TNA) -- The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) began its trial run of the airport link railway Wednesday, connecting Makkasan railway station in Bangkok and Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Samut Prakan province.
A large number of the prospective passengers showed interest in traveling on the test run of the 28.6 kilometre route Wednesday, according to the authorities, but full-scale commercial operation is not expected until April next year.
SRT governor Yuthana Thapcharoen said that the test run on Wednesday went smoothly. He expressed confidence that it would be well used by commuters when it starts full operation.
Most passengers said the airport link railway was convenient, similar to the BTS Sky Train, but the airport link (Express Line) is faster taking only 15 minutes from Makkasan to Suvarnabhumi Airport. They said they will definitely use the airport link service when they travel to the airport. (TNA)
Source: enews.mcot.net, 7th October, 2009
NEWS UPDATE... 6th October 2009
Bangkok To Welcome The Suvarnabhumi Rail link
International media representatives were given a sneak peak at the Suvarnabhumi Airport rail link during the TCEB "Maximize" familiarization last week.
The much delayed Airport rail link was originally scheduled to launch in August this year, but it is now on track to officially open in December.
During Friday's trial service, guests admired the futuristic design of Makkason (Bangkok) Airport link station before making the easy 15-minute journey to Suvarnabhumi.
Premium-fare express services will run on the hour between Suvarnabhumi Airport and City Air Terminal, while the City Line service will stop at six local stations along the route.
According to the State Railway of Thailand, the Express service will operate four cars, while the City Line will run three cars.
Once the rail link is officially launched fares for an express trip will be approximately Bt150 per person, while fares for the City Line commuter trips, will range from Bt30-50 per passenger.
Source: etravelblackboard.com, 6th October, 2009
NEWS UPDATE... 24th September 2009
Govt. to speed up Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link
The government should get the airport rail link operating as soon as possible as it will help boost the tourism sector, Thongyoo Supphawitthayakorn, a member of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), said on Thursday.
"A mass transit rail system linking Suvarnabhumi airport and Makkasan train station in inner Bangkok will benefit tourism related business operators, as they can reduce their client service costs," Mr Thongyoo said.
He confirmed the number of foreign visitors had dropped about 30 per cent due, and blamed the ongoing political conflict and the anti-government demonstrations.
"It is not possible that the number of foreign arrivals in 2009 will reach the 14 million target of the Tourism Authority of Thailand. The figure this year is more likely to be 11 million at the most," he said.
The political turmoil had driven foreign tourists to visit neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia and China.
Source: Bangkok Post, 24th September, 2009
NEWS UPDATE... 24th September 2009
Travel Agents: Open Airport Link
The airport link railway is ready to operate and the government will launch it as quickly as possible, Deputy Prime Minister Korbsak Sabhavasu said on Thursday.
The deputy prime minister, who is in charged of economic affairs, was speaking after a test run of the 28.6 kilometre route linking Makkasan train station in Bangkok and Suvarnabhumi airport in Samut Prakan province.
About 1,100 representatives of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) were present.
"From the test run, I can say that the airport link system is ready to operate," Mr Korbsak said.
However, more staff needed to be trained before operations could begin.
"The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) has not been able to set up a subsidiary for this, and it could take at least nine months, or until mid-2010, for all the staff to be trained," he said.
Mr Korbsak said he will invite SRT executives and all related agencies to a meeting to speed up the process.
ATTA member Thongyoo Supphawitthayakorn said the government should get the airport rail link operating as soon as possible as it would boost the tourism sector.
"This mass transit rail system will benefit tourism related business operators, as they can reduce their client service costs," Mr Thongyoo said.
He confirmed the number of foreign visitors had dropped about 30 per cent due, and blamed the ongoing political conflict and the anti-government demonstrations.
"It is not possible that the number of foreign arrivals in 2009 will reach the 14 million target of the Tourism Authority of Thailand . The figure this year is more likely to be 11 million at the most," he said.
The political turmoil had driven foreign tourists to visit neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia and China.
The Rail Link will make another test run on Oct 1, in preparation for the planned official commencement of operations on Dec 5.
Source: Bangkok Post, 24th September, 2009
GOLD NEWS UPDATE... 16th September 2009
Airport Rail Link dispute goes off the rails
Transport Minister Sohpon Zarum's claims he has solved the industrial dispute surrounding the embattled airport rail link have left the SRT and the powerful rail union baffled.
Mr Sophon said he had held "informal negotiations" with a leading State Railway of Thailand unionist over the Suvarnabhumi airport rail project.
He said the talks had led to an agreement that the union would allow the Airport Rail Link project to be set up as part of a new SRT subsidiary.
However, SRT governor Yutthana Thapcharoen yesterday said he was not aware of any talks between the minister and the union.
SRT union leader Sawit Kaewwan also denied the workers had reached an agreement with the ministry.
But Mr Sophon insisted the issue had been settled.
"I have reached an agreement with the union representative, whom I did not want to identify by name," Mr Sohpon said. "The talk led to an understanding and the union agreed to soften its position."
he union previously wanted the debt-ridden railway agency to set up a business unit to handle the new project to make sure it would remain under the SRT's direct control.
But under the SRT's restructuring plan, the agency is to set up a subsidiary responsible for commercial and freight services.
Source: Bangkok Post, AMORNRAT MAHITTHIROOK, 16th September, 2009
NEWS UPDATE... 15th September 2009
Airport Rail Link open for test run on Oct 1
The Airport Rail Link will operate the test run on October 1, in preparation for official operation commencement on Dec 5 as planned.Yuthana Thapcharoen, governor of the State Railway of Thailand, said on Monday that the public is invited to join the test run, with the tickets available at the Makkasan office or SRT public relations office.
The train that connects Suvarnabhumi Airport and the city terminal in Makkasan will open for the public once a week. After it is open for commercial operations, the train will charge maximum Bt150 for the express line and Bt15-Bt40 for the city line.
Souce: By The Nation, 15th September, 2009
NEWS UPDATE... 5th September 2009
Airport Rail Link open Soon
BANGKOK, Sept 5 (TNA) -- The long-delayed Airport Rail Link project, providing direct rail service to and from Suvarnabhumi Airport, will start providing free service to the public from this December 5 which coincides with the birthday celebrations of His Majesty the King, said State Railway of Thailand (SRT) Governor Yuthana Tupcharoen.
People interested in free rides on December 5 may apply for tickets beginning October 1 at either the Airport Rail Link office or at SRT headquarters, Mr. Yuthana said.
Test runs of the system have been conducted since February by Siemens, the manufacturer and installer of the rail system, and no problems have been found. However, independent engineers will inspect the safety system for the next three months and if no problems are found, the system will be ready for operation.
The SRT board has also hired Deutsche Bahn International of Germany for Bt85 million to train Airport Rail Link staff. The board exports to launch the system on December 5, Mr Yuttana added.
The 28-km rail link connects Suvarnabhumi International Airport in adjacent Samut Prakan province and the City Air Terminal in Bangkok's Makkasan area.
The Airport Rail Link is owned and will be operated by SRT, through a subsidiary company, which will administer the overall operations.
According to a preliminary study, the fare for an express trip will be Bt150 per person, while fares for the City Line commuter trips, will vary from Bt30-50 per passenger.
Transport for airport express riders and local commuters will run on the same track with the same equipment, but with a staggered schedule.
Premium-fare express services will run on the hour between Suvarnabhumi Airport and City Air Terminal, while the City Line service will stop at six local stations along the route. (TNA)
Source: enews.mcot.net 5 September 2009
NEWS UPDATE... 29th July 2009
Sohpon: Airport Link may be delayed
Transport Minister Sohpon Zarum said on Wednesday the stalemate in talks between State Railway of Thailand executives and union leaders may delay the planned opening on Dec 5 of the Airport Rail Link project connecting the capital city and Suvarnabhumi airport.
The SRT plans to recruit new staff to operate the airport link, but the labour union rejected the plan. The union said it would offer better management and efficiency.
Mr Sohpon said if the two sides could not reach a settlement on this matter the start of the Airport Rail Link operation on Dec 5 might be delayed. He called for both sides to adhere to the interests of the SRT and the country.
The prime minister has told other countries that the airport rail link would be opened in December, he said.
Source: 29h July,2009 - By , BangkokPost.com
NEWS UPDATE... 28th July 2009
Suvarnabhumi Airport link Stalls
The future of the State Railway of Thailand rests with Deputy Prime Minister Sanan Kachornprasart after the final round of negotiations with its powerful union failed to make any headway.
The main stumbling block between SRT executives and union leaders is the management model for the Airport Rail Link project connecting the city to Suvarnabhumi airport.
The link, due to start on Dec 5, is seen as the most promising aspect of the SRT's future.
The cabinet last month agreed to the restructuring of the SRT but only if the plan was backed by the union.
It would see the SRT separated into two subsidiary firms handling asset management and services. The airport link would be under the service firm.
While existing SRT staff would be responsible for passenger and freight services under the proposed new structure, the SRT plans to recruit new staff to operate the airport link.
The SRT board yesterday held firm on the plan, saying it would offer better management and more efficiency.
The labour union rejected the plan, saying the airport link should be run as a business unit within the SRT instead of under a new subsidiary.
SRT governor Yutthana Thapcharoen said no more talks would be held with the union as it was pointless.
The union has accused the SRT of having a hidden agenda with future plans to privatise profit-making businesses. SRT executives have denied the suggestion.
The SRT will present its position and the union's argument to a committee chaired by Maj Gen Sanan for a decision.
Despite the conflict between the executives and the union, the SRT governor was confident the launch of the new railways system would go ahead.
SRT union leader Sawit Kaewwan said the union wanted the Airport Rail Link operators to come under the SRT because that would provide an assurance that business units would not be privatised in the future.
Mr Sawit insisted the union's resistance to the SRT plan to set up subsidiaries would not delay the launch of the system.
He did not say what the union would do if its proposal was rejected by the Sanan panel.
Its strike in late June in opposition to the restructuring left 200,000 passengers stranded and caused the SRT 16 million baht in losses.
The Finance Ministry yesterday warned the labour union that more strikes could badly hurt the SRT.
Passengers would become frustrated and switch to other transport services, said Areepong Bhoocha-oom, the director-general of the ministry's State Enterprise Policy Office (Sepo).
Mr Areepong said the railway system made up just 2% of the country's available transport services.
Therefore if SRT staff went on prolonged strike, the service could lose out to other kinds of services. Eventually, the SRT would lose more of its already small number of customers, he said.
The Sepo chief said the SRT restructuring must go ahead. Under the restructuring plan, the government would invest about 195 billion baht in the enterprise's business operations from 2010 to 2014. It expects to give the state railway at least 40 billion baht a year.
The investment is in the national interest as Thailand needs to improve its rail transport facilities, Mr Areepong said.
"I hope that SRT staff will agree with the investment plan. It's because the SRT's performance over the past 10 years has clearly proved to be ineffective," he said.
The country could no longer afford to delay the upgrading of the SRT, Mr Areepong said.
Source: 28h July,2009 - By AMORNRAT MAHITTHIROOK AND WICHIT CHANTANUSORNSIRI, BangkokPost.com
NEWS UPDATE... 15th July 2009
The Airport Rail Link is expected to start running commercially next March.
aiyavat Navaraj, area station manager for Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Maldives at Austrian Airlines and chairman of the Airline Operators Committee (AOC), said the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) had confirmed to the AOC it would conduct a full trial of the system from December.
The test will take three months to complete. If all goes smoothly, the Airport Rail Link will begin official operations next March.
Some 160 representatives of the AOC, which consists of 81 airlines and 21 non-airline agencies, yesterday participated in an SRT test run held to demonstrate the rail-link system to members.
The elevated system will link Suvarnabhumi Airport with the City Air Terminal in Bangkok's Makkasan area. A non-stop express train will cost Bt150, while the City Line, which will stop at each station, will cost Bt15 to Bt45, depending on distance travelled.
Source: 15th July,2009 - By WATCHARAPONG THONGRUNG,THE NATION
NEWS UPDATE... 14th July 2009
International airlines urged the government to ensure that the long-delayed airport link project is up and running at its latest promised date in order to complement efforts to make Suvarnabhumi Airport an air hub.
"The sooner the system is opened, the better,'' said Jaiyavat Navaraj, chairman of the Airline Operators Committee (AOC), which represents more than 80 international airlines operating through Suvarnabhumi.
The 26-billion-baht rapid transit system that stretches 28 km from Bangkok's international airport to Makkasan has suffered multiple delays.
Current opposition by the State Railway of Thailand's union to setting up a subsidiary company to operate the line has created doubts about whether it can start operations by the second quarter of next year, the latest promised date.
The system will provide an efficient transport option between Suvarnabhumi and the city centre for some 50,000 passengers and 15,000 airline staff and airport workers who need to commute every day and endure the frustrations of long bus waits and unscrupulous taxi drivers, said Mr Jaiyavat.
But Walter Gintschel, the operation specialist for the airport link system, expressed confidence on Tuesday that the system would be ready for a trial run in early December this year, a process that
takes about three months, before the line opens for public service in April.
System contractors B.Grimm, Siemens and Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction are putting the final touches on the system and the train is actually running back and forth to test the line, the German train expert said.
Many of the nearly 180 international airline staff who were given the chance to try the rail system from the airport to Makkasan on Tuesday morning said they were pleased with the train's performance and are looking forward to using it soon.
The government has tentatively fixed the airport rail link fare at 150 baht per person per trip on the express line, which does not make stops between the airport and Makkasan city terminal, a journey that takes 15 minutes.
The planned fare for the city line, which stops at the six stations along the way with a total running time of 30 minutes, is 45 baht for a single ride.
Source: 14th July,2009 - Bangkok Post, bangkokpost.com
NEWS UPDATE... 24th June 2009
Airport-Bangkok link faces further delay
The opening of the high-speed rail link between Suvarnabhumi Airport |and inner Bangkok, scheduled for December 5, could be further delayed following this week's strike by railroad workers.
Hundreds of State Railway of Thailand employees returned to work yesterday evening after paralysing much of the national rail service for 36 hours.
Deputy Prime Minister Sanan Kachornprasart said the SRT labour union had agreed to end the strike following the government's pledge that the union would participate in reorganising the money-losing state agency.
The SRT is in the process of setting up two wholly owned companies: one for train operations and the other for real-estate management. The company in charge of train operations will be responsible for running the 28.6-kilometre Airport Rail Link, which is due to open in December.
"I'm not sure if the rail link can still be opened as scheduled, because the process to form the SRT company will be halted until negotiations between the SRT union and the agency's top management are concluded," Transport Minister Sophon Saram said yesterday.
He said he hoped the talks would not be protracted and could be concluded within two weeks, or else the SRT would face greater financial damage.
The country's international image would also take a further hit if the multibillion-baht elevated rail service between Suvarnabhumi Airport and the inner city did not start operation as scheduled, he added. The high-speed rail service between the international airport - located in the suburbs of Bangkok - and Makkasan Station was originally due to open in August, but construction delays led to a postponement.
Leaders of the SRT union, which went on a selective wildcat strike on Monday morning, causing disruption to hundreds of thousands of commuters, said they were concerned the SRT would further privatise other routes of the national rail service. Yesterday, the union entered into a memorandum of understanding with the government to end the strike on condition there be further negotiations between the two sides over the SRT's reorganisation.
The SRT has been losing money for years, with accumulated losses amounting to more than Bt70 billion. Sanan said the SRT management would have to hold talks with the union, as the latter still lacked a clear understanding of the reorganisation plan aimed at boosting the agency's efficiency and reducing its chronic losses.
Sawit Kaewwan, president of the SRT union, said rail workers had needed to take the drastic action of the past two days in order to achieve the union's objective, even though many commuters were left stranded as a result. Deputy Finance Minister Pradit Pataraprasit said the SRT needed to be reorganised quickly, because the government had committed to investing Bt170 billion in more railroad projects over the next few years.
Source: 24th June,2009 - The Nation, nationmedia.com
NEWS UPDATE... 3rd June 2009
Cabinent approves Business Plan
The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the business plan for train services, including the December 5 launch of airport link project between Suvarnabhumi Airport and the inner city areas at Makkasan and Phyathai.
The trial period for the airport link service will last three months and the full service is expected to start in March, Transport deputy permanent secretary Thawanrat Onsira said.
The construction for the airport link service is about 98 per cent completed and the remaining work is for testing the operation system.
Source: 3rd June - nationmedia.com
The Minister of Transport, Sophon Zarum, and the chairman of the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), Youtdana Tupcharoen, were among those onboard for the first trip on 12 February. In the course of this year, the light rail transit line will connect the city centre and Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport.
The multiple-unit express train is based on the Desiro UK built by Siemens. In 2005, SRT placed an order with Siemens Mobility and two Thai companies - B Grimm Group and Sino Thai Engineering and Construction (Stecon) - to build the rail link.
The project involved the construction of a new 28km-long route and a station in the city centre. Siemens and B Grimm were responsible for developing, supplying and installing the entire electrical and mechanical parts of the project. This included track construction, vehicles, signaling systems, the power supply, a communication system, fare management, tunnel equipment, depot and workshop equipment, check-in systems and baggage management.
Most of the line is elevated, with just under 1km underground. The Suvarnabhumi Airport Express will run non-stop on the 25.7km route between the airport and the capital.
The Suvarnabhumi Airport City Line, which runs on the same tracks, is 28.5km long and extends further into the inner city. It has six scheduled stops and ends at Phaya Thai Station, where passengers can transfer to the Bangkok Skytrain.
The first of a total of five City Line trains have already completed successful test runs at a maximum speed of 160km/h. These took place on January 18, 2009, between Klong Ton Depot and Suvarnabhumi Airport Station, just one day after the 69V traction substation and the 25kV overhead catenary line had been energised successfully.
The system will be officially handed over to the State Railway of Thailand when further system tests and system integration tests have been carried out.