The Mass Rapid Transit Authority has reversed course on the route for its Orange Line extension, agreeing to return to the original plan of having the electric railway serve low-income residents and students rather than luxury-condominium owners.
MRTA governor Peerayudh Singpatanakul said Tuesday his organisation would follow a directive from the Commission for the Management of Land Traffic by having the Taling Chan-Min Buri line run through the Pracha Songkhro community in Huai Khwang district instead of along skyscraper-lined Rama IX Road.
The direction from the CMLT, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister MR Pridiyathorn Devakula, results in the Orange Line route being drawn from Taling Chan eastward via the Thai Cultural Centre to Min Buri, instead of from Taling Chan via Rama IX (Phra Ram 9) to Min Buri.
MRTA management will seek approval for the route switch from its board Friday, Mr Peerayudh said.
“The board will be asked to change its resolution to be in accordance with the CMLT. Then ways to create understanding with local residents will be considered,” the MRTA governor said, referring to objections to the original route from Pracha Songkhro residents.
The CMLT said it wanted the Orange Line to adhere to its original route passing through Pracha Songkhro because that provides more access to mass transit to low-income residents, the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Thailand Cultural Centre.
It also has the advantage of lowering traffic congestion, as construction would have worsened delays on Rama IX Road.
The commission rejected the Rama IX route because that would benefit upper-income owners of luxury condominiums, a source at the MRTA said.
Recently, some residents in Pracha Songkhro expressed opposition to the original route. They said that about 1,000 people see their land expropriated.
Authorities earlier insisted, however, that the section would affect only 184 homeowners and the environmental-impact assessment for the route already was completed.
Construction costs for the 35-kilometre Orange Line are estimated at about 110 billion baht. It will stop at 29 stations, including Taling Chan, Siriraj, Sanam Luang, Ratchaprarop, Din Daeng, Ramkhamhaeng, Nom Klao and Min Buri.
Last year, residents on Pracha Songkhro 21 Road protested against construction of a Pracha Songkhro station and in February the MRTA agreed to avoid building in the community.