Thailand’s provincial mass transit projects expedited, think tank in limbo
18 October 2018
The government is revving up construction of mass transit projects in Phuket, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima and Khon Kaen, worth a total 194.29 billion baht.
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, who chaired yesterday’s meeting of the Land Traffic Management Commission, said a national think tank for transport policy and mass transit development in those provinces needs to be sped up to boost the provincial economy and ease traffic congestion.
The meeting yesterday acknowledged the progress of provincial mass transit development. plans, include the 58.5-kilometre light rail (tram) in Phuket, worth 39.40 billion baht, running from Tha Noon in Phangnga; three tram routes in Chiang Mai spanning a combined 34.84km with total investment of 95.32 billion baht; three light rail routes in Nakhon Ratchasima spanning 28.14km, worth 32.60 billion baht; and a 22.8-km light rail in Khon Kaen, worth 26.96 billion baht.
Chaiwat Thongkhamkoon, the transport permanent secretary, said the cabinet already approved a draft of a royal decree to permit the Mass Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) to implement Phuket’s tram project.
The tram will run from Tha Noon in Phangnga to Chalong intersection in the south of Phuket.
The MRTA will build the first phase from Phuket airport to Chalong circle, with 24 stations worth 30.15 billion baht.
The cabinet also approved a draft of a royal decree to allow the MRTA to pursue tram development in Chiang Mai. The project comprises three routes — the Red Line with 12 stations of 12.45km, worth 28.72 billion baht; the 10.47-km Blue Line, worth 30.39 billion baht; and the 11.92-km Green Line with 10 stations, worth 36.19 billion baht.
Yesterday the commission also approved a master plan of Nakhon Ratchasima’s light rail project with three routes — Green (11km with 18 stations worth 8.4 billion baht), Orange (9.81km with 17 stations worth 5.2 billion baht), and Purple (7.14km with nine stations worth 4.8 billion baht).
According to Mr Chaiwat, the commission also approved the Khon Kaen municipalities to implement the first phase of the 22.6-km Red Line (Samran-Tha Phra), a north-south route with 16 stations worth 30 billion baht.
Khon Kaen appears to have made the greatest progress towards the government’s smart city scheme. The development has been propelled by the province’s strong private sector, notably third-generation Chinese entrepreneurs aged 40-50 who have been friends since childhood.
They jointly established the Khon Kaen Think Tank Group on Jan 9, 2015 with the goal of finding the most appropriate city development plans to improve transport infrastructure in the province.
The think tank established Khon Kaen City Development Co shortly after, with registered capital of 200 million baht, and has since been working with Khon Kaen’s Muang district and adjacent municipalities to raise public awareness and form a feasible joint investment in infrastructure funds for a public transport system.
Mr Chaiwat said the commission acknowledged the feasibility study of the light rail development in Phitsanulok. The MRTA has been authorised to handle the project.
The project comprises two phases, with the first phase covering six routes spanning 80.5km worth 3.2 billion baht, and the second phase covering two routes spanning 30.1km worth 911.42 million baht.
For Bangkok, the commission also endorsed a 3km expansion of the Pink Line to Muang Thong Thani, worth 3.37 billion baht, and a 2.6km expansion of the Yellow Line to link the Green Line at Phahon Yothin with 24 stations worth 3.77 billion baht.
The committee approved the Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning Office to build the first phase of road along the Chao Phraya River in Nonthaburi, which will span 9.8km and be worth 5 billion baht. Construction is expected to take 2-3 years.