Blue Line river crossing test run proves popular
Bangkokians flocked to try a new train service across the Chao Phraya River after its operator started a two-month trial run on Monday.
Starting at Hua Lamphong Station, people can ride free of charge to another five stations -- Wat Mangkorn, Sam Yod, Sanam Chai, Israphab and Tha Phra.
At 9.59am, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob pressed a button to open the doors of the first train of a service that will serve commuters every eight minutes from 10am to 4pm during the test.
Sanam Chai, the last stop before the trains run under the river to western Bangkok, is designed to imitate a palace hall and boasts of being one of the most beautiful stations in the country.
A large crowd queued to use the service and take photos at the stations, each of which has been designed and decorated to match its surrounding area.
The route, an extension of the Blue Line, will comprise elevated tracks at Tha Phra before running further to Bang Khae.
Mr Saksayam also vowed to implement a 15-baht flat-rate on state-run electric trains without requesting state subsidies.
He made the comment after reports that the policy would require state financial support worth at least 700 million baht annually.
"I insist we'll find ways to bring down the fares, but we'll not subsidise the services," he said.
The minister did not say how he will deal with the costs involved but confirmed it is a high priority for consideration this year.
"How much the fares can be reduced still needs a thorough study," he said.
The minister has already proposed two electric rail routes on which to trial the flat-rate 15-baht fare. They are the State Railway of Thailand-owned Tao Pun-Bang Yai section of the Purple Line and the Airport Rail Link, which connects Phaya Thai and Suvarnabhumi airport.
Purple Line passengers are charged between 14 and 42 baht while the Airport Rail Link costs from 15 baht to 45 baht.