Bangkok’s Mass Transit Expansion gathers pace

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Construction of new mass transit lines continues abounded in Bangkok, almost as if on steroids. It is hard not to witness the construction, with many main roads such as Ladprao Road, Srinakarin Road and Ramkamheng Road already seeing signs of long rows of pillars rising skyward in the middle of their respective carriageways.

In just the next few years, five of the new lines will be constructed to link up a number of key suburbs in Bangkok with the Dark Blue Line, that itself is just on the cusp of having 2 new significant extensions developed to make it Bangkok’s first circular mass transit route.

Four out of the five new lines under construction will be completed by 2021. These new lines will consist of the Light Red Line running from Taling Chan to Bang Sue, the Light Green Line linking Mo Chit to Khu Khot, the Yellow Line running from Ladprao to Samrong, and the Dark Red Line, connecting Bang Sue to Rangsit.

The fifth project, the Orange Line, linking the Thailand Cultural Centre to Minburi is slated for completion in 2024.

The two extensions to the Dark Blue Line will run from Hua Lamphong to Lak Song and from Tao Poon to Tha Phra. They will be operational at the end of 2019 and in 2020 respectively.

If some of the station names sound familiar then of course they are existing stations on the network and these new lines will essentially connect using some of the stations as interchange hubs. Lat Phrao, Bang Sue, Hua Lamphong Mochit and the Thailand Cultural Centre stations are all expected to attract residential and commercial real estate development due to the increased passenger traffic envisaged.

Also, as lines spread out into the suburbs new condo developments in places that you may never have guessed are starting to appear due to the sole benefit of the wider reach of the mass transit system.

After becoming a circular line, not only will the Dark Blue Line become more attractive in its own right, it will start to see increased popularity as the first five new connecting lines above open.

Currently the Dark Blue Line is the second most used mass transit line in Bangkok carrying more than 350,000 passengers each weekday. As well as the extensions there are plans for capacity expansion by buying additional trains, as the lines grow more popular.

The purchase of 35 new trains has already been agreed in a contract signed recently. These will be introduced over a period of time, significantly increasing the rolling stock from 19 trains to 54 trains.

Four trains will be added at the end of 2019 as the first extension to the Dark Blue Line becomes operational. The expected capacity will rise to 400,000 passengers per weekday.

Another eight trains will be added in 2020, as the second extension is completed, increasing capacity still further to 600,000 passengers.

Once all the 54 trains are running the Dark Blue Line will be able to accommodate 1 million passengers per day.

The longer-term master plan for mass transit railway lines in Bangkok looks as complicated, if not more so, than London’s well established sprawling underground network, with just as many stations and up to 14 lines.