MRT urged to rethink Korat trams

MRT urged to rethink Korat trams

Businesses and investors in Nakhon Ratchasima have asked the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRT) to review the electric tram blueprint for the province over concerns about cost-efficiency.

The chairman of Nakhon Ratchasima Chamber of Commerce, Chatchawal Wongjorn, said the MRT would be better off using rubber-tyred people-movers rather than conventional trams which run on fixed tracks, as it would significantly cut down on construction costs.

The savings would allow the MRT to build three lines simultaneously, as opposed to just one, which would not be enough to spur the province's economic growth, said Mr Chatchawal.

Over 600 representatives of government units, the private sector, academic institutions as well as community leaders yesterday took part in the second hearing on the project, which was held by the MRT in Muang district to gauge people's opinion on the "Green Line" tram.

MRT's assistant governor, Sarot T.suwan, said the trams, which will run between Safe One Market to Ban Nari Sawat Protection and Occupational Development Centre, will be similar to the trains running on Bangkok's MRT lines, but smaller.

The 11.5-kilometre tram line, which is expected to cost about seven billion baht to build, will have 21 stations in total. Construction is expected to begin in 2022 and take about four years to complete.

Local businessman Chaiwat Wongbencharat urged the MRT to reconsider, saying conventional rail systems are expensive to build and difficult to repurpose if the system needs to be altered in the future.

Considering the province has plans to build three tram lines -- Green, Purple and Orange -- with a budget of 34 billion baht, the MRT might want to rethink its plan to spend seven billion baht on the Green Line alone, he said.

Mr Chaiwat further defended the rubber-tyred people movers, saying they would be equipped with safety sensors and such systems are already used in major cities around the world.

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