Phuket light-rail price tag jumps B9bn

Construction News

Phuket light-rail price tag jumps B9bn

The price tag for Phuket’s long-awaited light-rail system has jumped B9 billion now that the revised plans have included six underpasses, officials in Bangkok have confirmed.

Sirigate Aphirat, a policy and planning officer at the Ministry of Transport’s Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP), confirmed this week, “This project has been added to the Fast Track Project of 2017 government budget, which has been fully supported to get the project done as quickly as possible.”

“The budget for this project is B39.4 billion,” Mr Sirigate said.

In his explanation of what had caused the B9bn jump in price, Mr Sirigate avoided specifics, and said, “We had to change the plans, such as making the plans suitable for the area and ensuring the project is safe.”

But in February this year Nirun Ketkao, Acting Director of Bureau of Regional Transport and Traffic Promotion, explained that the cost of building all six “tunnels” had yet to be estimated.

“We cannot estimate cost of tunnels at this stage as the budget for these has yet to be calculated,” he said.

Finalising the plans has seen the budget requirement balloon from B23.5 billion in November 2015  to B30bn reported in December  – and now jump another B9bn in the past six months.

Mr Sirigate this week admitted that the project still had yet to pass its critical Environmental Impact Assessment. “We are finalising our plans and will present them to the Office of Natural Resources and Environment Policy and Planning (ONEP),” he said.

“The plans will include the investment format, which will be a Public-Private Partnership (PPP),” he added.

However, Mr Sirigate was adamant the project was steaming ahead and that construction of the main section of the route would commence next year.

“The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) will select the contractors next year. The first phase to be built will be from Phuket International Airport to Chalong Circle,” he said.

As previously reported, the entire route when complete finished will feature six underpasses, five between the airport and Chalong, and a sixth at Tha Chatchai, before the rail line crosses the strait to end at Tha Noon in Phang Nga.

“The total route will have 24 stations, with one elevated station at the airport. In the Phuket Old Town area the stations will feature Sino-Portuguese designs,” Mr Sirigate said.

“The construction will start next year and will take three years or less to complete,” he assured.

The current plans account for 24 carriages with a “total capacity of 2,000 people”. The cars will be able to travel at speeds of up to 100kmh in open areas, but speeds in busy built-up areas will be restricted to 20-40kmh, he said.

The trains will stop at stations for 20 to 40 seconds, depending on which station, and will take six minutes “turnaround time” at each terminal.

The OTP will meet with Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong and other key Phuket officials on June 8 to explain the latest status for the project.


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