The extension of the Blue Line is under construction and the launch of the service is planned for 2019. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak has asked Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc (BEM) to accelerate its launch of an electric rail service on the Hua Lamphong-Bang Khae extension of the Blue Line, planned for 2019, so that it can commence the service early.
Mr Somkid also requested that the BEM bring forward its planned launch of the service on another new extension from Bang Sue to Tha Phra that had previously been planned for 2020.
Speaking after presiding over a ceremony held on Friday to sign an agreement on the Blue Line concession between the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) and the BEM, Mr Somkid said he made the requests to speed up the process to the BEM already.
The Blue Line’s extended routes are crucial parts of the planned transport connection between Bangkok and Thon Buri — the two sides of the Chao Phraya River which are seen as key development spots that could benefit from better infrastructure.
The Hua Lamphong-Bang Khae route will be a direct connection from the Hua Lamphong main station to The Mall shopping complex in Lak Song on the western Thon Buri side of the capital.
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said he was confident the BEM would be able to begin operating the Hua Lamphong-Bang Khae extension ahead of schedule if the company can reach a proper agreement with the suppliers of the trains. The number of passengers per day is estimated to rise from 300,000 currently to 800,000 when all three sections of the Blue Line — Bang Sue-Hua Lamphong, Hua Lamphong-Bang Khae and Bang Sue-Tha Phra are fully open, he said.
Plew Trivisvavet, chairman of the executive board of the BEM, said the company will try its best to speed up negotiations regarding the purchase of the trains so that the company can launch the new service on the extended routes earlier than planned as requested by the government.
Mr Plew also said that the BEM will be able to start operating the service on the one-station missing link from Tao Poon station to Bang Sue station before August as planned.
The MRTA has hired the BEM to install the electric rail system and operate the service for the Tao Poon-Bang Sue missing link on the Blue Line at a cost of about 918 million baht.
Mr Plew said passengers using the Blue Line service will save money on travelling costs once the Blue Line fully connects Bangkok to Thon Buri.
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