The long delayed Purple Line mass transit project is expected to be operational by 2016 as the operating and maintenance contract is estimated to be approved by the cabinet after Songkran, says subway operator Bangkok Metro Plc (BMCL).
The project was scheduled to start services in 2014 but massive flooding in 2011 caused delays to construction, said BMCL president Chaiwat Utaiwan.
He said the new route will help add another 100,000 passengers on top of estimated ridership of 270,000 for this year.
Mr Chaiwat said construction of the 16-kilometre route is halfway done and should take another 40 months before it is operational.
The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand awarded BMCL a 30-year contract to supply rolling stock and electrical and mechanical equipment for Bangkok’s Purple Line, in addition to operating and maintaining the route.
“If the cabinet approves the project after Songkran and the contract signing takes place as planned in May, we will be able to start operation in May 2016,” Mr Chaiwat told a transport forum held by Thansetthakij newspaper on Wednesday.
The section will run from Bang Sue to Bang Yai in Nonthaburi. The subway currently services an average of 250,000 people per day on weekdays.
Meanwhile, construction on the Blue Line extension is already under way and awaits endorsement from the cabinet. BMCL is keen to take part in the bidding. Once approved, the project is slated to take 52 months before it is operational.
This Hua Lamphong-Bang Khae-Bang Sue section is projected to increase ridership by 150,000, Mr Chaiwat said.
“We are ready to participate in this project, either if it is awarded directly to us or by joining open bidding,” Mr Chaiwat said.
“If the project is approved no later than next month, it will be operational by 2019.”
Only 2.3 million of Bangkok’s 14 million people use mass transit trains. In Singapore, 1 million of its 4 million people commute by trains, said Mr Chaiwat.
Shares of BMCL closed on Wednesday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 1.15 baht, up eight satang, in trade worth 621.98 million baht.