Cheap air flights vs. fast trains: Which wins? | Bangkok Post: learning

Learning > Learning From News (เรียนภาษาอังกฤษจาก ข่าวบางกอกโพสต์)

Cheap air flights vs. fast trains: Which wins?

Level switch:
  1. Advanced
- +

Costing over 2 trillion baht, high-speed rail unlikely to win customers from cheap & fast airlines. Sightseeing & some cargo, main use for trains. 

High-speed rail in China (Source: Wikipedia).

Click button to listen to Highspeed Rail or Cheap Flights download 

TRANSPORT

Airlines say speedy trains are no threat

Thai AirAsia, Nok Air claim they are cheaper
15 May 2013
Boonsong Kositchotethana
Deputy Editor Business

The government's proposed high-speed train network is unlikely to win over passengers from budget airlines if operating costs are the main factor.

Executives of major discount carriers Thai AirAsia (TAA) and Nok Air say their operating costs are definitely lower than those of high-speed trains, which, according to the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning, are estimated to be 2.50 baht per kilometre.

TAA claims its cost is 5 US cents (1.48 baht) per km, while Nok Air says its is 2.30 baht.

"Unless the government opts to subsidise fares, the rail network cannot beat LCCs (low-cost carriers) in terms of operating costs and fares," said TAA chief executive Tassapon Bijleveld

Vitai Ratanakorn, chief financial officer of Nok Air, said the rail network, due to its prohibitive investment outlay, cannot compete with LCCs on fares.

Speaking to the Bangkok Post separately, the executives agreed that the rail network and LCCs do not necessarily compete head on and tend to complement each other as they have different merits and purposes.

"The high-speed rail system serves sightseeing purposes and, to a certain extent, moving cargo, while LCCs have a speed advantage," said Mr Tassapon, pointing out that a TTA flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai takes one hour compared with more than three hours on a high-speed train.

Mr Vitai believes air and rail passengers form different segments.

"Ours are those wanting to travel directly from one point to another, overflying cities where the train may stop en route," he said.

I think the high-speed railway and LCC passengers have different needs. It's not necessary that they will steal passengers from each other.

Mr Tassapon cited the example of Europe, where high-speed trains and LCCs are well developed and co-exist without one crushing the other.

"Have you seen the train clip the wings of EasyJet? No, EasyJet is still alive and kicking," he said. 

I think all things in life come down to crucial words like price, demand and supply, and these are relevant to the rail network versus LCC issue.

The Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) says the four planned rail lines linking Bangkok with Chiang Mai, Nong Khai, Rayong and Padang Besar will cost more than half of the 2-trillion-baht infrastructure budget.

TDRI researcher Sumet Ongkittikul has questioned the economic viability of the projects, saying such an undertaking will never break even

High-speed train systems elsewhere in the world need at least three million passengers in the first year of operation if they are to have any hope of breaking even, but the Thai network will need at least three times that number due to the excessive investment cost, he said.

But Transport Minister Chadchat Sittipunt has insisted the broad economic returns will make the rail projects worthwhile.

The 745-km Bangkok-Chiang Mai route is due to be the first operational high-speed line, with the first section from Bangkok to Phitsanulok expected to launch by 2018-19, followed by the second section to Chiang Mai in 2021.

The first phase of the Northeast line will stretch to Nakhon Ratchasima, while the southern route will first extend to Hua Hin.

(Source: Bangkok Post, TRANSPORT, Airlines say speedy trains are no threat, Thai AirAsia, Nok Air claim they are cheaper, 15 May 2013, Boonsong Kositchotethana, Deputy Editor Business, link


Transportation Vocabulary
 
high-speed rail - very fast trains first used in Japan and then Europe that now reach a speed of 300 kilometers per hour (See Wikipedia)

transport (verb) - to move people or things from one place to another ขนส่ง
transportation (noun) - การขนส่ง

threat
- a danger อันตราย
Airlines say speedy trains are no threat

claim - saying something is true without proving it yet
Thai AirAsia, Nok Air claim they are cheaper

proposed - suggested (but not yet chosen or decided upon)

network - a large system of connected parts, organisations, people, etc. เครือข่าย
high-speed train network

passengers -  people traveling on some form of transportation: plane, bus, train ผู้โดยสาร
cargo - goods carried in a truck, plane, or train สินคา้ที่บรรจุในตู้สินค้า ขนส่งทางรถหรือรถไฟ (ในภาษาไทย บางครั้งเรียก ตู้คอนเทนเนอร์)

budget airlines - cheap airlines

carriers
- airline companies
discount - a reduced price on goods or services sold  
discount carriers -
cheap airlines, also called "low-cost carriers" (See Wikipedia)

factor - a fact or situation which influences the result of something ปัจจัย
the main factor

win over - to get people to do what you want them to do (agree with your ideas, buy your products)

The government's proposed high-speed train network is unlikely to win over passengers from budget airlines if operating costs are the main factor.

executive - the highest level managers in a company
chief executive officer (CEO) - the head and leader of a company

costs -
ค่าใช้จ่าย
operating costs -
the money that has to be spent everyday to keep a business running

Executives of major discount carriers Thai AirAsia (TAA) and Nok Air say their operating costs are definitely lower than those of high-speed trains, which, according to the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning, are estimated to be 2.50 baht per kilometre.

subsidise - to pay part of the costs of something ให้ความช่วยเหลือด้านการเงิน  เงินช่วยเหลือจากรัฐ
government subsidise fares

opts to -
chooses to do something
the government opts to
subsidise fares

beat - win ชนะ
rail cannot beat low-cost carriers in terms of operating costs and fares

"Unless the government opts to subsidise fares, the rail network cannot beat LCCs (low-cost carriers) in terms of operating costs and fares," said TAA chief executive Tassapon Bijleveld

officer - a high level person in an organisation with special responsibilities (a government officer, a police officer, an army officer)
chief financial officer (CFO) - the high level manager in charge of rasing money for a business and also financial records and reporting (See Wikipedia)

investment - taking your money and putting it into projects to make a profit or earn interest (buying stock shares, bonds, real estate)
outlay - an amount of money spent for a particular purpose ค่าใช้จ่าย
investment outlay - the large amount of money that is invested in some expensive project

prohibitive - something that prevents things from happening or existing ซึ่งห้าม, ซึ่งขัดขวาง, ซึ่งยับยั้ง
prohibitive investment
outlay

compete
- แข่งขัน
compete on fares
cannot compete on fares

Vitai Ratanakorn, chief financial officer of Nok Air, said the rail network, due to its prohibitive investment outlay, cannot compete with LCCs on fares.

do not necessarily
compete head on - compete directly with each other (because they sell the same product or service)

tend - to be likely to behave in a particular way or have a particular characteristic มักจะ
tend to complement each other

merits - the advantages something has compared to something else ข้อดี
they have different merits and purposes

executives - a high level manager in a company (making plans and ensuring they executed successfully) ผู้บริหาร

Speaking to the Bangkok Post separately, the executives agreed that the rail network and LCCs do not necessarily compete head on and tend to complement each other as they have different merits and purposes.

sightseeing - when tourists go to interesting places for fun during their travels การเที่ยวชม 

extent - size ขนาด
to a certain extent - partly, not completely บางส่วน, ไม่ทั้งหมด

advantage - a condition making something better and giving a greater chance of success ความได้เปรียบ
LCCs have a speed advantage

pointing out that ...
- showing people that something is true ....

"The high-speed rail system serves sightseeing purposes and, to a certain extent, moving cargo, while LCCs have a speed advantage," said Mr Tassapon, pointing out that a TTA flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai takes one hour compared with more than three hours on a high-speed train.

market segment -
groups of customers who are the same age, family-size, income and interests who will likely buy the same products (See Wikipedia)

segments - Same as "market segments"
Mr Vitai believes air and rail passengers form different segments.

route - the way that planes, buses, trains, or ships travel regularly เส้นทางของรถ เรือ เครื่องบิน,etc.
en route - while traveling along a route, while going from one place to another place

"Ours are those wanting to travel directly from one point to another, overflying cities where the train may stop en route," he said.

I think the high-speed railway and LCC passengers have different needs. It's not necessary that they will steal passengers from each other

cited - mentioned (to support a point you are making or arguing) กล่าวถึง
crushing - when something very heavy and very large destroys something

Mr Tassapon cited the example of Europe, where high-speed trains and LCCs are well developed and co-exist without one crushing the other.

clip the wings of - make something move more slowly or operate less efficiently and make less money as a business
still alive and kicking -
has not died yet, continues to exist

"Have you seen the train clip the wings of EasyJet? No, EasyJet is still alive and kicking," he said. 

crucial
- very important because it effects the result of something สำคัญยิ่ง

demand
- the need and desire to buy goods and services by households and businesses อุปสงค์
supply and demand - in efficient competitive markets price is determined when supply equals demand, market-clearing price (See Wikipedia)

relevant - directly connected and important to what is being discussed or considered ที่เกี่ยวข้อง ที่เกี่ยวข้องโดยตรง
issue - an important subject that people are arguing about or discussing ประเด็น

I think all things in life come down to crucial words like price, demand and supply, and these are relevant to the rail network versus LCC issue.

infrastructure - the high-cost facilities that everyone in the economy shares (water, roads, electricity, trains) สาธารณูปโภค
the 2-trillion-baht infrastructure budget

The Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) says the four planned rail lines linking Bangkok with Chiang Mai, Nong Khai, Rayong and Padang Besar will cost more than half of the 2-trillion-baht infrastructure budget.

viability - can continue successfully, remain alive
economic viability - able to continue doing business
economic viability of  project

undertaking - something difficult that you do ภาระกิจ
TDRI researcher Sumet Ongkittikul has questioned the economic viability of the projects, saying such an undertaking will never break even

breaking even - not losing money (not making money either)
have any hope of ... - have any possibility of ..., have any chance of ...
if they are to have any hope of breaking even

excessive - much greater than is usual; too much of something มากเกินปริมาณที่พอดี
excessive investment cost

High-speed train systems elsewhere in the world need at least three million passengers in the first year of operation if they are to have any hope of breaking even, but the Thai network will need at least three times that number due to the excessive investment cost, he said.

returns -
the money created or generated from some business or project
economic returns

broad - wide กว้างๆ
broad economic returns

worthwhile - useful, important or good enough to be a suitable reward for the money or time spent or the effort made คุ้มค่ากับความพยายาม
make it worthwhile

insisted - say firmly that something must happen or is true, and will not change mind
insisted the broad economic returns will make the rail projects worthwhile.

operational - working; able to be used,  able to work normally ที่สามารถใช้งานได้
the first operational high-speed line

expected - believe will happen คาดว่า (จะเกิดขึ้น)
launch - to start something เปิดโครงการ, เริ่มต้น, เริ่มทำ

the first section expected to launch by 2018-19

stretch - to cause something to reach, often as far as possible, in a particular direction ขยายออก, ยืดออก
the Northeast line will stretch to Nakhon Ratchasima

extend - to include something more ยืดออกไป ขยายออกไป
the southern route will extend to Hua Hin

More on this topic

Bangkok Post online classifieds

Try buying & selling goods and properties 24/7 in our classifieds which has high purchasing power local & expatriate audience from within Thailand and around the world.

0 people commented about the above

Readers are urged not to submit comments that may cause legal dispute including slanderous, vulgar or violent language, incorrectly spelt names, discuss moderation action, quotes with no source or anything deemed critical of the monarchy. More information in our terms of use.

Please use our forum for more candid, lengthy, conversational and open discussion between one another.

  • Latest
  • Oldest
  • Most replied to
  • Most liked
  • Most disliked

    Click here to view more comments