In the last issue we commenced writing about the Mass Rapid Transit, or Transport, system (MRT) in Bangkok. The underground railway commenced operations in July 2004 and has proved to be a worthy adjunct to the Bangkok Skytrain (BTS).
Over succeeding issues we will cover the various MRT stations and what attractions happen to be located nearby. For this edition we will simply take a bit of a birds-eye view of the entire system (or, given modern technology, a drones-eye view).
There are presently 18 stations along the MRT route, resembling a U-shape. It begins at the main railway station in Bangkok, Hualamphong, and heads basically east from there, intersecting with the BTS for the first time at Silom. It continues east for two more stations before beginning a northwards stretch where it intersects once again with the BTS, this time at Asoke.
After Asoke, the MRT snakes further north through four more stations and then starts the completion of the U-shape by swinging north-west through a further three stations. It then heads westerly, intersecting for the third and final time with the BTS at Morchit (Chatuchak Park). The end of the line is just two more stops away, at Bang Sue, completing the 18 stations.
As an aside, for those who may have taken the train from Butterworth in Malaysia (the jump-off point for Penang) back to Bangkok, it’s worth getting off at the Bang Sue Junction stop and walking the short distance to Bang Sue MRT, especially if you are going to be staying in the Asoke-Sukhumvit area. Alighting at Bang Sue Junction can reduce the time spent on the train by up to an hour, or more, on that long return trip from Malaysia (which always seems to get back into Bangkok long behind schedule).
As at the time of writing, there are a number of extensions to the MRT under construction, with quite a few set to be completed and opened no later than 2017, a mere two years away.
Those extensions will comprise a 13-kilometre stretch of the heavy rail Blue Line from Bang Sue to Tha Phra, which will add a further seven stations; a 14-kilometre section from Hualamphong to Lak Song, with 10 stations along that route, and a 12.6-kilometre section from Bearing (which is the Sukhumvit Line) to Kheha Samut Prakan and will have seven stations.
In 2016, the heavy rail Purple Line should see the completion of a 23-kilometre section from Khlong Bang Phai to Tao Pun, and this will consist of 16 stations.
So, by the end of 2017 the current 18-station MRT will have morphed into a 58-station behemoth.