MRTA set to splurge on electric rail, new tollways

MRTA set to splurge on electric rail, new tollways

The government is committed to spend about 640 billion baht next year on major public transport projects, including new electric rail routes in Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Nakhon Ratchasima, says the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA).

MRTA governor, Pakapong Sirikantaramas, said that out of the 640 billion baht earmarked for the projects, some 422 billion baht will go towards funding six electric rail routes.

"The construction of the MRT's Orange Line between Thailand Cultural Centre and Bang Khun Non will require about 200 billion baht, while the Purple Line extension from Tao Poon to Rat Burana will cost about 100 billion baht," he said.

"Additionally, the section of the Brown Line between Khae Rai and Lam Sali will cost about 50 billion baht to build."

According to Mr Pakapong, the funds will also go towards other electric rail routes outside of the capital, including the 41.7-kilometre tram system in Phuket (34 billion baht), a tram line in Chiang Mai (30 billion baht) and Nakhon Ratchasima (8 billion baht).

The MRTA governor said the Phuket tram project is currently being reviewed by the MRTA's board.

"Once approved, the project will be forwarded to the cabinet, which will decide when bids for the project will be accepted. The tender process should begin early next year," he said.

"The trams are expected to serve about 40,000 passengers per day, but ridership numbers are expected to triple once more commuters become familiar with the route," he said.

As for the Brown Line, Mr Pakapong said the project has been approved by the government's land transport management committee and will have to be forwarded for cabinet approval before bidding can begin.

"Construction of the [Brown] line is expected to begin some time in 2021," he said, before adding that bidding for the Chiang Mai and Nakhon Ratchasima tramway projects will also open in 2021.

Separately, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said 42 billion baht will be spent to fund the expansion of Suvarnabhumi airport's passenger terminal, 80 billion baht will go towards a new motorway between Nakhon Pathom and Cha-am, while 30 billion baht will be earmarked for the 18-km extension of Rama III-Dao Khanong-Outer Ring Road expressway.

And according to a source, the ministry is also planning to spend some 42.6 billion baht for a new highway between Hat Yai and the Thai-Malaysian border, and another 30 billion baht for expansion of the Uttaraphimuk elevated tollway from Rangsit to Bang Pa-in in nearby Ayutthaya province.

Final details of both projects are expected early next year and the bidding will soon follow, said the source.

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