Prajin wants subway fare talks

Prajin wants subway fare talks

Transport minister seeks price hike delay

Transport Minister Prajin Juntong is seeking ways to delay subway fare hikes until December as they are due to rise next month.

Merit making for a tunnel-boring machine is conducted at the construction site of Isaraphab station under the Blue Line electric train project in Thon Buri district yesterday. The event was presided over by Transport Minister Prajin Juntong. THANARAK KHUNTON

ACM Prajin said the Bangkok Metro Plc (BMCL), the subway operator, will be invited for a meeting on Saturday to sound out the possibility of fare increases being put on hold until December. The BMCL earlier agreed to postpone the fare hike only from Sept 3 to Oct 2.

If the negotiations are unsuccessful, a minimal rise in the fares could be sought instead in order to prevent the cost of living going up, he said.

Subway fares currently range between 16 and 40 baht, and the BMCL is set to raise them to range between 16 and 42 baht.

Asked about the possibility of the postponement of the fare hike, Plew Trivisvavet, chief executive of Ch Karnchang Plc, the major shareholder of BMCL, said the company will discuss the matter with ACM Prajin and the firm is ready to cooperate for the benefit of the public.

ACM Prajin also said construction of the Blue Line extension contract 2 between Sanam Chai and Tha Phra was about 64% complete as of the end of last month, or 0.6% quicker than expected.

He was speaking about the issue as he presided over a tunnel-boring machine debut ceremony at the construction site of the line’s Isaraphab station close to Wat Kalayanamit in Thon Buri district yesterday.

The tunnel underneath the Chao Phraya River, however, cannot be built too quickly as the drilling must be carefully calculated in line with the strength of the concrete wall.

He said construction is expected to be completed in 2016 and service could start late that year.

On the construction of Purple Line between Bang Yai and Bang Sue, planned for completion in December 2016, ACM Prajin said a request will be made to expedite the launch of the service to the first or second quarter of 2016 instead.

ACM Prajin said the ministry will hold a workshop on land transport, covering road, trains and electric trains, with agencies concerned on Saturday to summarise public complaints and seek ways to address the problems.

The most urgent task is to tackle traffic congestion in Bangkok to boost the public’s quality of life, adding another workshop on air transport will be held on Oct 4.

The air transport event will discuss and consider whether Suvarnabhumi’s airport development should be done through investment in the second-phase expansion at a cost of 62 billion baht or via the construction of a new passenger terminal on the north of Concourse A at a cost of 24 billion baht, he said.

The development of the Royal Thai Navy’s U-tapao airport to become the third national airport will also be on the agenda, he said.

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