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Bangkok residents can look forward to better times commuting when a network of metropolitan rail route projects gets the go-ahead this year.
In 2017, work on all 10 rail route projects and their extensions proposed by officials will have started. The rail lines will start going into service this year until all are in place by 2023, says Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.
The good news comes amid concerns over traffic congestion caused by construction work, though the problem is just short term. Officials hope that residents will be pleased with the network of rail lines that are coming and that they will be persuaded to leave their vehicles at home and rely on the public transport system instead.
The rail network, when fully connected, will boast a mix of subway and elevated tracks that run through the capital's business and shopping areas as well as linking parts of its outskirts with Nonthaburi's Bang Yai district.
(Additional graphic-map below)
The one-kilometre missing link between Tao Poon and Bang Sue stations will serve commuters in June this year. The link, which will be part of the 13km Blue Line extension linking Bang Sue and Tha Phra, will help commuters travelling between the subway and elevated train systems. The Blue Line extensions cover two sections -- a 13km section linking Bang Sue and Tha Phra, and a 14km section connecting Hua Lamphong and Bang Khae.
Mr Arkhom expects the Blue Line extensions to service passengers by 2020 at the latest, the same year in which the 26.3km Red Line, linking Bang Sue and Rangsit stations, is scheduled for completion.
Theeraphan Tachasirinugune, deputy governor of the Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA), said 84% of work on the Blue Line extensions is finished.
Another rail extension, to open on March 1 this year, is the Soi Bearing-Samrong section of the Green Line elevated track, Mr Arkhom said.
Other stations on the 13km Green Line, which stretches from Soi Bearing to Samut Prakan, will gradually be opened until the end of next year, Mr Arkhom said.
Besides this portion of the Green Line, known as the southern Green Line, construction of the northern Green Line, running from Mor Chit to Saphan Mai in Bang Khen district in Bangkok and Khu Khot in Pathum Thani, is also going ahead. Construction is at about 15% after a flyover at the crowded Ratchayothin intersection was recently removed. The project could be serving commuters by mid-2020.
Progress on two monorail projects is also likely this year -- the 30.4km Yellow Line linking Lat Phrao and Samrong and the 34.5km Pink Line connecting Khae Rai and Min Buri after BSR Joint Venture won bids for both projects.
This month, the MRTA will also ask the cabinet for a decision on the eastern Orange Line, which will stretch from the Thailand Cultural Centre to Min Buri, a distance of 21.2km. The contract signing is expected in March this year and the route should be ready in early 2023, Mr Arkhom said.
Other projects, owned by both the MRTA and the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), are being pushed by the cabinet with bidding likely to be completed this year, the minister said.
This month, the cabinet will be asked to consider at least three projects -- the 8km Blue Line extension linking Bang Khae and Buddha Monthon Sai 4, the 9.2km southern Green Line extension from Samut Prakan to Bang Pu, as well as the 6.5km northern Green Line extension connecting Khu Khot and Lam Luk Ka.
The 23.6-km Purple Line extension linking Tao Poon and Rat Burana will be forwarded to the cabinet after this month while the 16.4km Orange Line extension connecting Taling Chan and the Thailand Cultural Centre will be tabled in March.
The remaining four projects, overseen by the SRT, will also advance this year.
They are the 21.8km Airport Rail Link from Phaya Thai to Bang Sue and Don Mueang airport, the 10km Dark Red Line linking Rangsit and Thammasat University's Rangsit campus, two sections of the Light Red Line -- the 5.8km section from Taling Chan to Siriraj Hospital, and the 14km section from Taling Chan to Salaya in Nakhon Pathom -- and the high-speed train project from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima.
This article first appeared on www.bangkokpost.com
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