Pink Line Monorail mishap spurs government warning

Construction News
A damaged power pole along Tiwanon Road in Nonthaburi on Sunday. Wichan Charoenkiatpakul

Pink Line Monorail mishap spurs government warning

Purple Line to suspend the use of cranes at a construction site after a steel rod fell killing 23-year-old worker

The government is warning the operator of the Pink Line monorail against further mishaps after a section of the conductor rail came off from its beam and fell onto a street in Nonthaburi province on Sunday morning.

The mishap, in which three cars and one motorcycle were damaged with no reports of injuries, prompted immediate suspension of the train operations for a thorough safety investigation.

Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit has ordered the Department of Rail Transport to probe the matter and threatened action against the line’s operator should there be any recurrence or similar incidents.

The portion of the conductor rail, which is about 10 centimetres wide and five centimetres thick, came off its beam at 4.45am near the intersection between Cholaprathan Market and Khae Rai on a stretch covering a distance of 3.8km before the line had begun its operating hours.

The dislocated conductor rail damaged three cars parked under the track and snagged on a power pole, leaving it standing at an angle.

Witnesses said they heard unusual sounds coming from Khae Rai just before the conductor rail detached.

“How fortunate it didn’t happen when the train was operating. What if the train had come off the beam? The safety standards for a project like this should have been more robust,” said one witness.

Train services for the entire line were suspended at noon on Sunday as Mr Suriya made an inspection along with Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) governor Pakapong Sirikantaramas.

Citing an initial report, he said that a foreign object could have come into contact with an inspection car during an inspection routine and this could have led to a sequence of events that resulted in the conductor rail becoming loose.

The routine inspection is made at 4 am before the service hours.

“I’ve ordered the Department of Rail Transport to investigate and assess safety before the system resumes services. If any other mishaps take place, penalties will be imposed,” he said.

Mr Pakapong said the dislocated rail would be reinstalled at night over the course of a week. He said compensation would be paid to those affected by the incident.

Nonthaburi governor Suthi Thongyaem on Sunday clarified that it was not the track itself that had collapsed, as some early reports suggested, but the conductor rail which supplies electric power for the operation of the train.

“The part that came off was the conductor rail which is mounted alongside, not the rail track. The cause of the incident is being investigated,” he said.

Technicians inspect a faulty conductor rail along a section of the Pink Line which came off and damaged power lines in the area. Three vehicles were damaged but no casualties were reported. Wichan Charoenkiatpakul

Due to the repair work and need for further safety inspections, the seven stations from Nonthaburi Civic Centre (PK01) to Pak Kret Bypass Station (PK07) will stay closed today while the rest of the line, from Chaeng Watthana–Pak Kret station (PK08) to Min Buri (PK30), is open as usual.

The 34.5-kilometre-long Pink Line, which connects Nonthaburi’s Kae Rai area to Bangkok’s Min Buri district, is the country’s second monorail after the Yellow Line. Northern Bangkok Monorail (NBM) was granted the concession to operate the line.

The Pink Line, which is currently available free of charge before it opens officially on Jan 3, saw the number of passengers reaching a new high of 107,203 on Dec 22, breaking the previous day’s new record of 99,882.

The incident came after the conductor rail at Lak Si Station experienced a problem, causing a 17-minute service delay on Dec 18. The Yellow Line reportedly faced issues with the conductor rail during its trial run as well.

In another development, the MRTA has ordered the contractor of the Purple Line to suspend the use of cranes at a construction site after a steel rod fell and struck the head of a 23-year-old worker at the site in Thon Buri district on Sunday morning.

He was rushed to Taksin Hospital but later succumbed to injuries.

Cherdsak Saenkhuen, a 56-year-old crane operator, was detained for questioning and initially charged with recklessness causing death.

The MRTA said the contractor would suspend use of the cranes while it reviews and improves safety measures on the site.