Phuket set for infrastructure upgrades
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Phuket set for infrastructure upgrades

Transportation plans unveiled

Tourists relax on the beach in Phuket. (File photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)
Tourists relax on the beach in Phuket. (File photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)

The government has announced its development plan to upgrade Phuket's transportation infrastructure, including a new monorail system connecting the airport and Phuket Town.

The move comes in response to the resort island's positive economic growth, with over 300 billion baht circulated last year.

Government spokesman Chai Wacharonke told media on Friday that Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin recognised Phuket's potential, which aligns with the government's policy that emphasises pushing Thailand to be the region's tourism, transportation, and aviation hub as well as enhancing transportation infrastructure on the Andaman coast.

Mr Chai said the premier instructed the Transport Ministry to come up with immediate, medium-term and long-term plans to upgrade the transportation infrastructure in Phuket so it can serve as the leading tourist city and key gateway in the lower South.

The development encompasses land, sea, air and rail transportation systems.

For the immediate action plan, the Department of Highways was to solve traffic issues on Highway 402 by upgrading to smart traffic signals, designating no-parking zones, and closing U-turn points on congested routes.

The medium-term plan will include solving traffic bottlenecks on Highway 402 and expanding Highway 4027 to four lanes, with construction expected to be finished by 2026.

For the long-term plan, the Expressway Authority of Thailand will develop an expressway connecting Patong Beach with Phuket Airport and the intercity expressway system.

The new expressway is to open by 2030.

The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA), meanwhile, would conduct a feasibility study on the 41.7-kilometre light rail system linking Phuket International Airport and Ha Yeak Chalong intersection.

The study will also focus on the area's geographical conditions and how to minimise the traffic disruption caused by the construction.

The construction of the tram system is expected to start by 2028 and be fully operational by 2031.

A feasibility study on Phuket's deep-sea port development has also been conducted. The development aims to cater to the growth in large cruise tourism in the Andaman Sea.

According to Mr Chai, Thailand will be able to earn more revenue from high-spending tourists if they can dock and stay in Thailand for longer periods. The study is expected to be finished by the end of this year.

In addition, Airports of Thailand (AoT) has been instructed to boost Phuket Airport's capacity to accommodate up to 18 million passengers a year. The deadline is 2031.

Mr Chai said the development plans also include adding seaplane services to facilitate travel between nearby islands.

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