BEM to buy 35 more Blue Line trains

BEM to buy 35 more Blue Line trains

Second extension due to run in July 2019

Commuters board a Blue Line train at the Purple Line's Tao Poon station. The link between the two lines has boosted the number of Purple Line passengers. PAWAT LAOPAISARNTAKSIN
Commuters board a Blue Line train at the Purple Line's Tao Poon station. The link between the two lines has boosted the number of Purple Line passengers. PAWAT LAOPAISARNTAKSIN

Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc (BEM), the operator of expressways and mass rapid transit (MRT), is planning to purchase 35 new electric trains for the second phase of its Blue Line extension.

The company will buy the 35 trains from Siemens at a combined value of 20 billion baht. The first batch of three trains will be delivered in late 2018, the second batch of 15 trains in early 2019 and the last remaining batch of 17 trains at the end of 2019.

The second extension of the MRT Blue Line is scheduled to start operating in July 2019, ahead of its original deadline of September 2019, running from Hua Lamphong to Lak Song.

The third-phase extension, from Tao Poon to Tha Phra, is scheduled to operate in March 2020.

BEM managing director Sombat Kitjalaksana said the second phase is likely to begin operating by July 2019, sooner than previously scheduled, and some stations of the third (extension) phase will be able to start running by the end of the same year.

"I think the government sees a significant continuous flow of transport between each station, as the ridership has increased significantly after the Tao Poon and Bang Sue stations were connected," Mr Sombat said.

The first phase of the MRT extension (Tao Poon-Bang Sue), which connects the Blue Line (Tao Poon-Hua Lamphong) and Purple Line (Tao Poon-Khlong Bang Phai), began operating last month.

The extension has led to an increase in the Purple Line's ridership to more than 50,000 trips a day, up from 30,000 trips logged previously. Ridership of the Blue Line has also risen to more than 360,000 trips a day, up from 340,000 registered earlier.

BEM's full-year net profit in 2017 is expected to expand by 20% on the back of the ridership increase, Mr Sombat said.

For this year's first half, total revenue was recorded at 7.51 billion baht, up 25% year-on-year, from 6 billion baht in last year's corresponding period. Net profit was reported at 1.43 billion baht, up 18% year-on-year, from 1.21 billion baht in last year's first half.

"The average ridership this year is expected to increase by two digits," Mr Sombat said. "For the next year, ridership is expected to grow by 4-5%, then jump to a faster rate in 2019 if the company is able to operate 35 new electric trains."

For 2020, the company has set a ridership target of 100,000 trips per day for the Purple Line, up from the current 47,600 trips, while Blue Line ridership is expected to rise to 500,000 trips per day from 356,000 at present.

BEM shares closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 8.10 baht, up 20 satang, in heavy trade worth 1.86 billion baht.

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