Overpriced airport link is 'a debacle'

Construction News

Overpriced airport link is ‘a debacle’

SPECIAL REPORT: Passengers unhappy with shoddy service are looking elsewhere

The rail link project between central Bangkok and Suvarnabhumi airport has turned out to be a fiasco, with passengers paying up to 150 baht for what they say is a shoddy service.

No escalators, no trolleys, no car park and no connecting facilities are just some of the complaints.

Officials have been bombarded with complaints.
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: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/232351/overpriced-airport-link-is-a-debacle

Leave a Reply