Plans on track for three airport railway links – Lines to connect Don Mueang and U-tapao

Construction News

The Transport Ministry is to extend Airport Rail Link services to Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and U-tapao airports, all of which are also due to expand their facilities.

A 22-kilometre line linking Phaya Thai in central Bangkok with Don Mueang airport is expected to be constructed first at a cost of 29 billion baht, Transport Minister Prajin Juntong said yesterday.

He said environmental issues regarding the Phaya Thai-Don Mueang railway project have already been considered by the National Environment Board and sent to the Transport Ministry.

“We are now preparing to forward the proposal to the cabinet for approval,” ACM Prajin said during a visit to SRT Electric Train Co, which operates the Airport Rail Link.

The new route will support a plan to double the capacity of the 90-year-old Don Mueang airport in northern Bangkok to serve 30 million passengers a year.

ACM Prajin said he has assigned permanent secretary for transport Soithip Traisuth to lead a team to oversee plans for a rail route to the navy-owned U-tapao airport in Rayong.

The team will start by engaging in talks with senior naval officers over using part of the airport to construct the railway.

Talks are needed because part of U-tapao is being developed into a commercial airport. “We want to know how the navy will divide the area into security and business zones,” ACM Prajin said.

Initial plans for the U-tapao railway suggest it will cover 190km. The transport minister said Ms Soithip’s team will have to work out where the railway will start. Potential start points include Makkasan, Lat Krabang and Suvarnabhumi airport. The team will also have to decide where stations will be built along the route that will pass through Chachoengsao, Pattaya, Si Racha and Rayong, he said.

Details will become clearer after talks with the navy, ACM Prajin said, adding that a decision should be reached by the second half of next year.

The Airport Rail Link, which opened four years ago, currently serves between 45,000 and 60,000 commuters a day who travel on the 23km route between Phaya Thai and Suvarnabhumi airport.

SRT Electric Train Co is currently conducting partial repairs on its fleet of nine trains and will start major repairs in the middle of next year. Partial repairs on three of the trains are finished, ACM Prajin said. Maintenance on another two trains will be complete by December.

To cope with rising passenger numbers, the company plans to buy another seven trains, costing about 4.8 billion baht, and provide more escalators and car parks, according to Pakorn Tangjetsakao, acting SRT Electric Train Co president.

Airports of Thailand Plc has meanwhile unveiled plans to spend 65 billion baht expanding Suvarnabhumi airport to serve 65 million passengers a year, up from 45 million. AoT board chairman Prasong Phunthanes said the project includes the construction of a new terminal and third runway.