Metropolitan Rapid Transit
|Termini||Hua Lamphong (Blue Line)
Bang Sue (Blue Line)
|Opened||July 3, 2004|
|Owner||Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand|
|Operator(s)||Bangkok Metro Public Company Limited (SET: BMCL)|
|Rolling stock||19 three-car Siemens Modular Metro|
|Line length||Over 27 km (16 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Operating speed||80 km/h (50 mph)|
The Metropolitan Rapid Transit or MRT is a rapid transit system serving the Bangkok Metropolitan Region in Thailand. The first section of the Blue Line between Hua Lamphong and Bang Sue opened in 2004 as Bangkok's second public transit system. The MRT is operated by the Bangkok Metro Public Company Limited (BMPCL) under a concession granted by the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA). Along with the Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS, also called the Skytrain), and the Airport Rail Link (ARL), the MRT is part of Bangkok's rail transportation infrastructure.
The MRT serves more than 240,000 passengers each day. It has 18 operational stations along 27 kilometres (16 mi) of underground track. The Blue Line, officially the Chaloem Ratchamongkhon Line, is the only line currently in operation. As of 2011, two extensions of the Blue Line are under construction. When completed, the Blue Line will become a loop line around the centre of Bangkok, with an extension to Bang Khae on its western side. The MRT Purple Line is also under construction. It will connect Bang Sue with Nonthaburi in the north-west, and will be the first public transit line outside the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.
The MRT line is officially known in Thai as rotfaifa mahanakhon (รถไฟฟ้ามหานคร) or "metropolitan electric train", but it is more commonly called rotfai taidin (รถไฟใต้ดิน), literally, "underground train". The metro has a fleet of 19 trains; the 19th train entered service in October 2007 after a major accident.
The MRT was constructed under a concession concept. For the first MRT line, officially known as Chaloem Ratchamongkhon or informally as the "Blue Line", most civil infrastructure were provided by the government sector, Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA), and handed over to their concessionaire under a 25-year concession agreement. Bangkok Metro Company Limited (BMCL) is the only private sector company that won a bid in MRTA's concession contract for the blue line. As MRTA's concessionaire, BMCL provides M&E equipment, including electrical trains, signalling systems, SCADA, communication, PSD, etc. for the subway project and fully operates the system. To maintain the system, BMCL has subcontracted in 10 years to Siemens which was the M&E system supplier since system opening and 7 years maintenance contract to two local maintenance services for north and south line.
The construction of the first Bangkok Metro line, officially known as Chaloem Ratchamongkhon (Thai สายเฉลิมรัชมงคล) – "Celebration of Royal Auspice" – or informally as the "Blue Line", began on 19 November 1996. The project suffered multiple delays not only because of the 1997 economic crisis, but also due to challenging civil engineering works of constructing massive underground structures deep in the water-logged soil upon which the city is built.
The Blue Line was opened for a limited public trial period of several weeks starting on 13 April 2004. On 3 July 2004 the line was officially opened at 19:19 local time by HM King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit, who were accompanied by other members of the royal family. Within 30 minutes of its opening, sightseers filled the system to its maximum capacity, but after the initial rush ridership has settled down to around 180,000 riders daily — considerably lower than projections of over 400,000, despite fares being slashed in half from 12-38 baht to 10-15 baht per trip. From 2006 until 2008, fares ranged between 14-36 baht per trip. The fare was raised to 16-41 Baht on 1 January 2009. Current ridership (2012) stands at 240,000 on weekdays.
The 21-kilometer, 18-station Blue line presently runs from Bang Sue to Hua Lamphong via Phra Ram 9 and has a carrying capacity of 40,000 people in each direction per hour. Similar to the Skytrain, the Metro uses trains supplied by Siemens which travel up to 80 km/h. Passengers can conveniently connect to the Skytrain at Si Lom, Sukhumvit and Chatuchak Park stations. The metro has a large depot in Huai Khwang district, which is located between Phra Ram 9 and Thailand Cultural Centre stations.
Considering that Bangkok is a low-lying plain which is prone to flooding, all of the Metro's station entrances are raised about one metre above the ground level and are equipped with built-in floodgates in order to avoid water inundating the system. Lifts and ramps are found at all stations, providing easy access for passengers in wheelchairs. Stations have multiple passage ways (generally four) which allow passengers to connect to any corner of the adjacent surface intersection. Passageways between exits are very spacious and some are beginning to open as malls. Maps depicting the local area and exit points are posted on the walls on the way out.
Due to safety considerations, platform screen doors are installed. Uniformed security personnel and security cameras are present at each and every platform. Currently 19 three-car metro trains, of the Siemens Modular Metro type, are used. Each metro train consists of two motor cars and a centre trailer car.
The ticketing system uses RFID contactless technology with round black tokens issued for single trips and contactless stored value cards for frequent travellers. In the near future, a joint ticketing system will be set up so that passengers can use a single ticket on the Metro as well as on the Skytrain. Multi-storey park & ride facilities are provided at Lat Phrao and Thailand Cultural Centre. Motorists who park their cars at these premises will be issued with additional contactless smartcards and they need to have them electronically stamped at their destination station. The turnstiles accept cards or paid for tokens, both available from from a booth or ticket machines, which do take notes. All luggage must be lifted above them when going through otherwise they sense the luggage going first as the paid for passenger and then the person carrying it is blocked.
There are one, three and thirty day cards. All are for unlimited travel and for that time only from first use. One day costs 100 baht, three day costs 280 baht and thirty days costs 1200 baht. At 40 baht per day, even when you do not need to use it, the thirty day pass is not very good value so most Thai people still pay per journey.
The only line currently in service is the Blue Line, opened on 3 July 2004. It runs eastward from Bang Sue Station in Chatuchak District along Kamphaeng Phet, Phahon Yothin and Lat Phrao Roads, then turns south following Ratchadaphisek Road, then west following Rama IV Road to Hua Lamphong Station in Pathum Wan District. A second line, the Purple Line, is under construction.
|System||Bangkok Metro (MRT)|
|Status||18 stations built and extension of 21 stations is under construction.|
|Line length||27 km (16.78 mi)|
|Electrification||750V DC Third Rail|
Various expansion plans of the Metro have been proposed. As of 2011[update], the MRT Purple Line and the two extension lines of the blue line are also under construction. It is planned that, eventually, the combined route distance of the Metro alone will total 91 km with 3 Metro lines covering all of the major areas of Bangkok. The Blue line, once completely extended, will form a lariat-shaped loop encircling the city.
Extension of the blue line can be summarised as follows:
Other expansion plans for the metro include:
[Note] that these plans do not include the extension proposed for the Skytrain, SRT Lines and airport link which is under the control of BMA and State Railway Thailand. BMCL intends to bid to be the operator for the extension project and other lines but the final decision is dependent on MRTA tender(government sector).
As per the BMCL's annual report, earning of profit from operation is still far away and BMCL is still subsidized by main share holder which is CH Karnchange. An accumulated deficit from now is estimated between 1,000 and 1,500 Million baht. Nevertheless, the deficit is partially mitigated by initial public offering and the earning per share is still giving with no hope to public share holder from now.
On 17 January 2005, just after 09:15, an empty train returning to the depot collided with a peak-hour train filled with passengers at the Thailand Cultural Centre station. 140 people were hurt, most of whom sustained only minor injuries, and the entire Metro network was shut down for two weeks.
After initial investigations, it was found that the empty train had run into problems shortly before the accident, grinding to a halt on a curve leading to the depot. The driver applied its brake and was waiting to be towed to the maintenance centre close to Thailand Cultural Centre station.
A rescue train was attempting to connect to the stalled train when the driver was told to release the brake while coupling had not yet been successful. It was then that the empty train began to roll backwards at a speed of ten metres per second, before smashing into the other train, which was carrying passengers. Therefore, it was believed that the incident was caused by negligence due to insufficient training of operation staff. This accident also resulted in two damaged trains with heavily damaged areas limited to the two leading cars. The colliding speed was suspected to be about 60 km/h due to the appearance of damaged areas. However, one train, which was rebuilt from the repair of the minor-damaged cars, was already fitted for operation at the end of 2006 and the remaining one was still under heavy repair until mid of 2007; it was released into service in October, 2007. The cost resulting from the accident might be a much higher figure than BMCL quoted, and it was expected to be at least 400 million baht, which was totally insured by a local insurance company.
The Metro resumed full operation on 1 February 2005, and passenger numbers soon rose back to pre-crash levels, partly due to a temporary promotional fare scheme which allowed passengers to travel any distance on the MRT for only ten baht (~0.33 USD).
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