Panel urges Green Line concession extension be dropped

Panel urges Green Line concession extension be dropped

The Green Line extension of the BTS skytrain. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)
The Green Line extension of the BTS skytrain. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

The House committee on transport on Saturday held a seminar addressing the proposed Green Line railway extension, during which a consensus emerged that the cabinet should not approve the plan's 30-year concession.

Sophon Zaram, chairman of the house committee, said that after hearing all opinions the committee will recommend not approving the proposal, which is expected to be brought up in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

He said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the cabinet would then have to revoke an order under Section 44 of the interim constitution to bring the matter back for consideration, according to the Public-Private Partnership Act (PPP Act).

"A new panel must be formed to study the matter and negotiate with the private sector on various issues including ownership, maximum fares, a joint-ticketing system, duration of the framework agreement and Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) debt," Mr Sophon said.

"In addition, the cabinet must by law take responsibility if the proposal for the concession's extension is passed and problems arise later."

Saree Aongsomwang, secretary-general of the Thailand Consumer Council (TCC), said fares for the electric rail system are expensive in relation to average income levels.

She said the high fares further justify her opposition to the concession given that the BMA can still earn about 23.2 billion baht from a fixed fare of 25 baht on the Green Line and a maximum fare of 33 baht across the entire rail network.

Ms Saree added the TCC has recommended the government lower the maximum fare to 44 baht when the current concession ends in 2029, to help make the city's electric-rail system accessible to all people. Additional income can also be generated from commercial zones and advertisements to help solve the debt issue, she said.

During the seminar, Move Forward Party (MFP) list-MP Surachet Pravinvongvuth pointed to a problem regarding any invoking of Section 44 of the interim charter.

He said important details have not been disclosed in public, including the effect that company profit forecasts might have had on the calculation of fare rates after 2029, and the lack of compliance with the PPP Act.

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