Deputy Transport Minister Pailin Chuchottaworn has backtracked on a plan to buy seven new Airport Rail Link trains, reasoning the purchase should be delayed until a contract is signed for a mega project to link three major airports.
Last month he told Airport Rail Link operator, SRT Electric Train Co (SRTET), the plan to acquire new trains should go ahead as officials had "no time" to wait for the airport linkage project, which is set to go through a lengthy process.
However, recently the deputy minister insisted SRTET, which is under the ministry, should wait until the government grants a concession to a firm to run the project to connect Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi Airport in Samut Prakan and U-Tapao Airport in Rayong under the state's much-touted Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) plans.
At present, the 28-km Airport Rail Link only runs from the Phaya Thai area in central Bangkok to Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Without the clarity of who will oversee the construction of the new tracks, Mr Palin said it is difficult to identify the types of trains SRTET should buy.
The deputy minister added that he expected the government to sign a contract with a firm within the middle of this year.
In the meantime, SRTET has been told to solve the current overcrowding problem by running trains from 5:30am, instead of 6am, and installing additional seats in baggage carriages, he said.
The new timetable will be used from February. Officials will then evaluate the measures and if overcrowding remains a problem, Mr Pailin added.