Red Line deal inked; some Hopewell pillars to stay


BANGKOK, Jan 31 – The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) today signed two deals, worth a combined Bt21 billion (US$700 million), to expand Bangkok’s  urban mass transit rail projects to the northern side of the city.

Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt presided over a ceremony to sign the agreements between the SRT and Italian-Thai Development Co.

The first deal covers a 21km rail system between Bang Sue and Rangsit (Red Line) and the construction of six stations, including Don Meuang, along the route. The second agreement involves construction of the foundations for future expansion of two major stations – Samien Naree and Lak Hok.

Construction will take three years and the Transport Ministry projects the Red Line to service 30,000-40,000 commuters per hour.

Half of the existing concrete pillars of the unfinished Hopewell rail link project will be useful as structures while substandard pillars will be demolished. The pillars lining Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road were abandoned for 15 years after the Thai subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Hopewell Holdings discontinued building the mega mass transit project.

Mr Chadchart said SRT retained consultants have pinpointed which pillars will be torn down and noted that the use of the remaining ones is not a breach of contract with the original contractor.

The minister said he has ordered the SRT to speed up construction of rail link stations at the Thammasat University Rangsit campus, Nava Nakhon industrial estate, Samien Naree and Lak Hok, and ensure that connections for passengers to the stations are convenient.

He said the original plan to integrate city rail links and high-speed rails could be impractical and a separate four-track system may be needed for a high-speed train.

Mr Chadchart  said private contractors in provinces along the high-speed rail line will be invited to join bids to build railway stations which can be expanded to include hotels and shopping complexes.