Bangkok’s Skytrain delays till year-end – operator
26 June 2018
BANGKOK’S Skytrain is facing a growing number of complaints from city-dwellers and visitors over breakdowns and extended delays the operator says might not be solved until year-end.
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpitayapaisit yesterday said he had asked representatives from Bangkok Transit System plc (BTSC) to clarify the situation.
Anat Arbhabhirama, director and advisor of BTSC, said the problem has been caused by radio frequency interference in the BTS train management system, especially at the busy Siam station.
Since the start of this year, there have been a total of 27 breakdowns and extended delays on the BTS system, which handles more than 900,000 passengers per day, with yesterday’s delays lasting more than four hours in the morning rush-hour and affecting tens of thousands of passengers. There have been as many as eight delays this month alone.
However, Anat said the current BTS service still has a very high standard of service when delays lasting more than five minutes are taken into consideration, achieving 99.5 per cent of its target for punctuality.
The company is in the process of installing a new radio communication system for Siam and other stations. It will be fully protected from interference but won’t be completed until later this year, Anat said.
The repeating problems have been caused by interference from other nearby radio frequencies, including those used by mobile phone operators in business and tourist districts, he said. The company has only two options: to shut down the entire sys?tem or to switch off the automatic train management system and operate the trains manually.
Once trains are manually managed, service frequencies have to be reduced sharply, resulting in extended delays and long queues of passengers spilling on to streets at some stations.
Anat said the overall signalling sys?tem will be much more stable later this year when the extended Bearing-Samut Prakan route becomes operational.
Transport minister Arkhom said the company, which operates the BTS service under a concession from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, needs to solve its problems quickly to avoid a further impact on the commuting public.
Yesterday, the BTS’s extended delays started around 6am, with passengers stranded on the entire Skytrain network due to a signal malfunctioning at Siam station at the worst possible time of the week – Monday rush hour.
The knock-on effect caused trains on the Sukhumvit route to slow. BTS broadcast a message to waiting passengers that technicians were trying to fix the problem as soon as possible.
A follow-up message 35 minutes later, at 6.50am, said the signal system had malfunctioned on both the Silom and Sukhumvit routes, meaning trains would be delayed by 15 minutes.
At 8.15am, BTS said the signal system on both the Silom and Sukhumvit lines was still faulty, causing the trains to move slowly – and reiterated that technicians were still trying to fix the problem.