Phuket Railway bid has eye in the sky

Construction News

Proposals for a rail network on Phuket appear to be getting more extravagant, with the latest company to express interest in the project advocating the construction of a sky train system, similar to Bangkok’s BTS network.

Representatives from Gold Phoenix Construction Consulting (Thailand) Co Ltd, the Thai affiliate of Hong Kong-Korean joint venture company Zhi Shan Yan Construction, met with Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha last Friday (June 10) to discuss the proposal.

Tophon Kraianupongsa, managing director of the company, said he would provide zero-interest loans to Phuket to pay for the project but had no interest in a concession to manage the rail system once it is built.

He said a light railway system was not suitable for Phuket as an international destination, claiming the island needs high-standard transportation such the airport link that was built in Bangkok.

Bangkok’s airport link though has been plagued by controversy since it opened last year. As of April this year, it was operating at a loss of B42 million per day, and Rak Prathet Thai party leader Chuwit Kamolvisit predicted in May that it would take more than 634 years for the project to recoup the construction costs.

Mr Tophon estimated that B20 billion would be needed to construct the three main routes for a Phuket sky train; from Phuket International Airport to Chalong Circle (41.40 kilometres), from Patong to Phuket Town (18.40 kilometres) and from Bangkoo junction to Chalong Circle (16.8 kilometres).

The additional route from Phuket International Airport to the new Phuket International Convention and Exhibition Centre (ICEC) is included in the budget.

Another company interested in the project estimates it would cost B2 billion for the airport-Chalong light rail link.

“We will not be involved in running the project after construction is completed,” Mr Tophon said. “We will offer Phuket Province a zero-interest loan though to make the project come to fruition.”

“We think Phuket Province will be able to pay us back under a 30- to 50-year plan, depending on the MoU [Memorandum of Understanding] signed” Mr Tophon said. He added that his company’s engineers would be ready to start the project within 30 days of signing an MoU.

The month of July was set as the deadline for companies interested in building the Phuket Railway project.

“After that,” Gov Tri said, “we will arrange a place and time for all interested investors to present their proposals for our consideration.

“We will then select one of those proposals and present it to Cabinet.”

Ten companies have so far expressed interest in the project.

“If everything goes well, the successful bidder will be announced in September or October of this year,” Gov Tri said.


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