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  • Red Line budget hiked by almost Bt3bn to pay tax

    The Cabinet has approved a budget increase of 2.9 billion baht for the State Railway of Thailand (SRT)’s Dark Red Line (Bang Sue Grand Station-Rangsit).

    The budget will be hiked from 93.950 billion baht to 96.868 billion baht to cover additional tax burdens, said government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul.

    The increased burdens come from extra VAT accrued in switching loan funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to domestic borrowing, VAT and import duty on train stock, and exchange rate fluctuations in yen – the currency used to pay the contractor.

    The additional tax expenses had added 2.917 billion baht to the Dark Red Line budget, Traisuree said.

    The Cabinet also approved an additional SRT domestic loan of 660 million baht to pay import duty for project materials.

    Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry was tasked with providing funding of 7.985 billion baht for the Red Line projects – 7.078 billion baht for the Dark Red Line and 906 million baht for the Light Red Line (Bang Sue-Taling Chan).

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


    • With Rama VI Bridge reopened after repairs, SRT resumes southern train services

      The State Railway of Thailand announced on Thursday that the Rama VI Bridge could be reopened as usual from February 25.

      Ekkarat Sriarayanpong, director of Public Relations Centre of the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), said the SRT had closed the railway line between Bang Sue and Bang Bamru stations temporarily since January 24 to renovate the Rama VI Bridge structure.

      The renovation of the Rama VI Bridge has been completed and is ready to resume normal operations from February 25, resulting in all southern routes resuming service, the SRT said

      Southern trains that are back in service are:

      • Special Express Train No. 43 Bangkok – Surat Thani

      • Ordinary train No. 261 Bangkok – Hua Hin

      • Speed ​​Train No. 171 Bangkok - Su-ngai Kolok

      • Thaksinarat Expressway 31, Bangkok - Hat Yai Junction

      • Suburban convoy No. 355 Bangkok – Nong Pla Duk

      • Express Train No. 83, Bangkok - Trang

      • Express Train No. 85, Bangkok – Nakhon Si Thammarat

      • Special express train No. 39, Bangkok - Surat Thani.

      return trip

      • Suburban convoy no. 356 Nong Pla Duk – Bangkok

      • Special express train 40 Surat Thani – Bangkok

      • Speed ​​Train No. 172 Su-ngai Kolok – Bangkok

      • Ordinary train No. 262 Hua Hin – Bangkok

      • Express Train No. 86 Nakhon Si Thammarat – Bangkok

      • Express train No. 84 Trang – Bangkok

      • Thaksinarat Expressway No. 32, Hat Yai Junction - Bangkok

      • Special Express Train No. 44 Surat Thani – Bangkok

      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


      • Hopewell saga gets new twist

        The Supreme Administrative Court on Friday ruled in favour of the Ministry of Transport and State Railway of Thailand (SRT) request for a retrial following a 2021 ruling against them by the Central Administrative Court in the "Hopewell saga".

        The latest ruling bolsters the transport and railway authorities' attempts to avoid a huge compensation payout to Hopewell (Thailand).

        Piraphan Salirathavibhaga, an adviser to the prime minister, on Friday hailed the ruling, saying it was the government's first success in a decade-long legal battle.

        "For me, it's good news. We've never succeeded in the battle before. It's our first [success]," said Mr Piraphan, who heads a working committee on the case.

        In the original 2019 ruling, the Supreme Administrative Court ordered the ministry and SRT to pay 11.8 billion baht plus an accrued interest rate of 7.5% to the company following the termination of the contract in January 1998.

        Mr Piraphan said the ministry and the SRT's argument was that the statute of limitations had already expired and should have influenced the Supreme Administrative Court judges' ruling.

        An appeal to the Constitutional Court led to the March 2021 ruling and consequently the latest retrial bid by the ministry and the SRT, which was first rejected by the Central Administrative Court last August but that decision has been overturned by the Supreme Administrative Court, he said.

        Mr Piraphan said the decision could spare the ministry and SRT a 30-billion-baht compensation bill.

        Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said the company was thought to have unlawfully registered with the Department of Business Development thus voiding the contract.

        Lawyer Nittithorn Lamlue said the compensation dispute will start anew with the Administrative Court, and the ruling may present an opportunity for other similar cases and agreed there is a likelihood that the government will not have to pay compensation.

        The ministry and the SRT's petition were based on a Constitutional Court ruling on March 17 last year, which clarified a resolution passed by Supreme Administrative Court judges on Nov 27, 2002, which stated the statute of limitations should be counted from the day the Administrative Court was founded -- March 9, 2001, thus legitimising the claim.

        The ministry and the SRT challenged the resolution with the Constitutional Court agreeing the Supreme Administrative Court ruling was a breach of the constitution as it had not been sent to parliament for inspection or published in the Royal Gazette as required by the law and the charter.

        However, the Central Administrative Court argued that the Constitutional Court ruling did not bind other courts, and also failed to present any new evidence, which is one of the prerequisites for lodging such an appeal. The ministry and the SRT appealed the ruling with the Supreme Administrative Court.

        The contract to build the Hopewell project was signed on Nov 9, 1990, when the late Montri Pongpanit was transport minister during the Chatichai Choonhavan government.

        Seven years later, the cabinet of former prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh announced it would scrap the contract after the company halted construction in 1997 amid the financial crash.

        The contract was officially terminated on Jan 27 the following year by the Chuan Leekpai government, for which Suthep Thaugsuban was transport minister.

        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


        • Minor SRT official credited with granting of retrial in long-running Hopewell saga

          The Thai Prime Minister’s advisor Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, recently in charge of the three-decade-long Hopewell saga, which is a case between the Thai government on one side and Hopewell (Thailand) on the other, has attributed last Friday’s success in winning approval for a retrial of the case to one dedicated SRT official whom he described as “a little man with a big heart”.

          The Thai Supreme Administrative Court overturned a ruling by the Administrative Court, which had rejected the pleas of the Transport Ministry and the State Railway of Thailand (SET) for a retrial in the conflict over the elevated road and rail project. An arbitration committee has ordered the two state agencies to pay Hopewell (Thailand) 24 billion baht in compensation for unfair cancellation of the project.

          Both parties had agreed to take the case to arbitration for settlement. Both the Transport Ministry and the SRT appealed the arbitration committee’s ruling to the Supreme Administrative Court which reconfirmed the committee’s ruling.

          Subsequently, however, the two state agencies asked the Administrative Court for a retrial of the case, claiming that they have new evidence that Hopewell (Thailand) was not properly registered and that it was not the same company which won the project bid. The court, however, dismissed the appeal, prompting a further appeal to the Supreme Court, which has now ordered the Administrative Court to conduct a retrial of the case.

          In his Facebook post on Saturday, Pirapan said he would not have succeeded in being granted a retrial without the help of Suthirak Yimyoung, aka “Yim”, an official at the SRT’s health office.

          Pirapan said his work on the case over the years has involved an enormous amount of documentation and Yim was key to helping him in this area because he appears to remember every detail about the nearly thirty year old dispute.

          Asked how he knows so much detail about the case, Yim told Pirapan that he had read all the paperwork and hoped that, one day, his knowledge would be useful.

          Pirapan said he realised Yim had been in the same position for a long time and asked him why he had not been promoted. Yim said his superior was about to retire, but that he would prefer one of his colleagues to take the job because, if he were to be promoted, he would not have the time to help out in the Hopewell case.

          Pirapan said he then asked whether Yim had thought about his future career. Yim responded by saying he was content to remain there, so he could concentrate on the Hopewell case.

          “Can you believe there is such a person in this world?” asked the PM’s advisor rhetorically.

          He went on to say that several people have lauded him for his legal success, but he admires and appreciates Yim as a “little man with a big heart” at the SRT.

          Officially known as the Bangkok Elevated Road and Train System (BERTS) project, it involves an elevated road and rail system, extending 63.3km from Bangkok, at a total investment of 80 billion baht. In return, the project owner would have the right to collect toll fees for 30 years, estimated at 53 billion baht and has the right to utilise land, covering about 100 hectares, along the route through the concession period.

          Businessman Gordon Wu, of Hopewell Holdings in Hong Kong, won the bid and a contract was signed in 1990, between then-Transport Minister Montri Pongpanich of the General Chatichai Choonhavan administration and Hopewell (Thailand).

          The project encountered prolonged delays due to land acquisition problems. Two years later, following the coup which ousted the Gen Chatichai administration, a new government, led by Anand Panyarachun, reviewed the project and scrapped it. The project was revived by the next government, led by Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai, only to be cancelled again by the Chavalit government in 1997. By then only 17% of the project was complete.

          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


          • Purple Line extension contracts signed

            The Mass Rapid Transit Authority signed contracts with five companies on Friday for the construction of the extension of the Purple Line, with the work expected to start this year.

            MRTA Governor Pakapong Sirikantaramas inked six contracts with representatives of Ch Karnchang, Sino-Thai Engineering, Italian-Thai Development, Nawarat Patanakarn and Unique Engineering for the civil works on the line extension.

            The six contracts total 82 billion baht and are for civil works on the ground and underground for 23.6 kilometres of the route.

            The MRTA said construction would start this year and was scheduled to finish in 2027.

            The Tao Pun-Rat Burana route will have 17 stations, 10 of them underground. It will connect with the present Purple Line running from Bang Yai to Tao Pun at Tao Pun interchange.

            Purple Line southern section construction to start this year

            Construction of the Purple Line mass-transit system’s southern section will start later this year after the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRT) signed six contracts with five major construction firms on Friday, the agency said.

            The agreements state that the contractors must complete their construction within 2,005 days after receiving notice to proceed from the MRT.

            According to the MRT plan, construction of the Purple Line’s southern section starts in 2022 and the project begins operating in 2027.

            Friday’s contract signing ceremony, held at the MRT’s headquarters, was presided over by the agency’s governor, Pakapong Sirikantaramas, and attended by its officials and senior executives from construction giants CH Karnchang, Sino-Thai Engineering & Construction, ItalianThai Development, Nawarat Patanakarn, and Unique Engineering.

            The signatories agreed to strictly follow the government’s Integrity Pact of transparency and fair practice, according to the MRT.

            Purple Line southern section construction to start this year

            The Purple Line project’s southern section, which requires a budget of THB101 billion, runs from Tao Poon to Rat Burana (Kanchanaphisek Road) for a total distance of 23.6 kilometres (13.6km underground with 10 stations and 10km elevated with seven stations).

            It connects with the northern section, which runs from Tao Poon to Khlong Bang Phai in Nonthaburi province.

            The project’s first contract involves the design and construction of a 4.8kilometre-long tunnel and underground stations from Tao Poon to the National Library at a cost of THB19.4 billion. The contractors are CKST-PL Joint Venture, comprising CH Karnchang and Sino-Thai.

            The second contract involves the design and construction of a 2.4km-long tunnel and underground stations from the National Library to Phan Fa for THB15.8 billion. The job was awarded to CKST-PL Joint Venture.

            The third deal involves the design and construction of a 3.1km-long tunnel and underground stations from Phan Fa to the Memorial Bridge for THB15.1 billion. The contractors are ITD-NWR Joint Venture of ItalianThai and Nawarat Patanakarn.

            The fourth agreement, won by Unique Engineering, involves the design and construction of a 4.1km-long tunnel and underground stations from the Memorial Bridge to Dao Khanong at a cost of THB14.9 billion.

            The fifth contract, awarded to ItalianThai, involves the construction of 9km-long elevated tracks and stations from Dao Khanong to Khru Nai, as well as a stabling yard and carpark building, for THB13 billion.

            The sixth deal, awarded to ItalianThai, involves the design and construction of tracks throughout the project at a cost of THB3.5 billion.

            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


            • BMA starts courting Grey Line investors

              The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is seeking private companies interested in investing in its Grey Line monorail project as construction is due to begin in 2026.

              The BMA on Thursday held a "Market Sounding" public discussion, calling on affiliated private companies to voice their opinions on the Grey Line, a planned monorail project linking the Vacharapol area in northern Bangkok with Thong Lor in the Sukhumvit business area.

              During the talks, BMA officials presented engineering and environmental data, including potential investment opportunities in the public and private sectors.

              Construction of the Grey Line will start in 2026, and services will commence by 2030, according to the BMA.

              The number of passengers in the first operating year is expected to be about 97,000 people per day, while fares are expected to range from 16 to 42 baht per journey.

              Anon Sakburanapetch, the project's engineering adviser, said the Grey Line will have 15 stations, with two connecting to the Airport Rail Link and BTS Thong Lor Station.

              A study indicates that the financial Internal Rate of Return is up to 19.75%, a high-interest rate of return, Mr Anon said.

              The investment value is 27.8 billion baht, he added.

              For the Grey Line project, the BMA proposes three investment models: Public-Private Partnership Net Cost, Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Gross Cost and Public-Private Partnership Modified Gross Cost, according to the BMA.

              For the PPP model, the public sector is expected to arrange property ownership for the private sector to carry out construction, purchase rail carriages, and organise train operations, it said.

              In return, the private sector will receive a share of the profit from the train operation, it said.
              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


              • Tickets for steam train ride to celebrate birth of Thai railway snapped up

                Tickets for a historic steam train ride from Bangkok to Ayutthaya on Saturday (March 26) to celebrate the State Railway of Thailand (SRT)’s birthday have sold out, the SRT said on Monday.

                However, travellers who are eager to experience the romance of rail travel in bygone days still have five more chances to book a seat.

                “If you didn’t get your tickets for March 26, there will be other five occasions that you can book a trip on steam locomotive from the World War II era. Be sure to make your reservation early next time,” said SRT Public Relations Centre director Ekarat Sriarayanphong.

                SRT organises the following six steam train services to mark special occasions every year.

                - March 26: SRT’s Foundation Day, Bangkok-Ayutthaya route

                - June 3: HM Queen Suthida’s birthday, Bangkok-Nakhon Pathom

                - July 28: HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s birthday, Bangkok-Ayutthaya

                - August 12: HM Queen Sirikit’s birthday and National Mother’s Day, Bangkok-Chachoengsao

                - October 23: King Chulalongkorn Memorial Day, Bangkok-Ayutthaya

                - December 5: HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s birthday and National Father’s Day, Bangkok-Chachoengsao

                Ekarat said that the historic trip this Saturday will celebrate SRT’s 125th anniversary since its foundation by royal decree of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) in 1897. The steam train will leave Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok at 8.10am and arrive at Ayutthaya station around 10.25am. Passengers will be given six hours to visit attractions in Ayutthaya province, before the train leaves for Bangkok at 4.40pm, arriving at Hua Lamphong at 6.55pm. The train will also stop at Samsen, Bang Sue, Laksi, Donmueang, and Rangsit to pick up/let off passengers.

                “To prevent the spread of Covid-19, all passengers must be vaccinated with at least two doses and provide a negative ATK test taken within 72 hours of departure,” said Ekarat.
                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                • Transport Ministry to have powwow with BMA over Green Line dispute

                  The Transport Ministry has summoned Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) permanent secretary Khajit Chatchawanich for a meeting at the Traffic and Transport Department on March 31 to discuss the BTS Green Line train dispute with operator Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTSC), a news source revealed on Tuesday.

                  The BTSC had filed a lawsuit against the BMA in September last year, suing the city for 12 billion baht it claimed it is owed for operating the Green Line extension and another 20 billion baht it is owed for the train operating system.

                  The Interior Ministry in February proposed fixing the problem by extending the BTSC’s concession contract for another 30 years from 2029 to 2059 in exchange for the BTSC capping the maximum fare at Bt65. However, the Transport Ministry strongly objected, saying the Bt65 maximum fair is too high for low-income commuters.

                  The news source said the Transport Ministry had asked the BMA to submit copies of contracts that allow Krungthep Thanakom Ltd to install electricity systems on the Bearing-Samut Prakarn and Mo Chit-Ku Kot Green Line sections.

                  “The project was assigned to the BMA by the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand [MRTA], but the BMA instead offered the job to Krungthep Thanakom,” the source said.

                  “It is speculated that the Transport Ministry wants to check the budget used by the BMA for this project so it could have a better idea of the origin of debt the BMA has accumulated from operating the Green Line,” the source said.

                  “In the end, if the BMA is not granted any government money to settle the debt, it would have no other choice but to transfer the Green Line back to the MRTA, the original owner,” the source added.
                  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                  • Parts of Chaeng Wattana Road to be closed at night from Wednesday

                    A section of inbound Chaeng Wattana Road will be closed from 10pm to 4am from April 6 onwards to make way for the construction of the Kaerai-Minburi Pink Line section.

                    According to the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA), the area from Soi Chaengwattana-Pak Kret 29 to the gate of Sriras elevated expressway will be closed every night until June 30.

                    Motorists wanting to enter the Sriras expressway must use a flyover and then make a U-turn to enter the expressway.

                    Parts of Chaeng Wattana Road to be closed at night from WednesdayMeanwhile, residents of Soi Chaengwattana-Pakkret 31 and 35 are required to inform officials at the construction site when want to enter or exit their sois.

                    The MRTA said the Pink Line is 80 per cent complete and some sections should start operating within this year.

                    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                    • Used diesel trains from Japan complete test run without a glitch

                      Two of the 17 KIHA183 diesel trains donated to Thailand by Japan’s Hokkaido Railway Company completed a test run on Thursday without any problems.

                      The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) said in a Facebook post that the test run from Makkasan train depot to Chachoengsao station and back was smooth. This is despite worries that the trains may not be safe due to their extensive usage since 1981.

                      SRT has been modifying four trains at a time since their arrival in December last year. The modifications include repainting, adjusting the axel width and improving the main engine, transmission system, air conditioning and passenger seats. SRT expects the first four trains to be ready for public use by mid-2022 for short trips and tourism promotion campaigns.

                      Used diesel trains from Japan complete test run without a glitch

                      The KIHA183 diesel trains, which can run at 100 kilometres per hour, have four cars and can accommodate up to 216 passengers. Once completed, they will be equipped with air-conditioning, reclining seats and toilets.

                      Though SRT was given these trains as a present, it paid 42.25 million baht to a private contractor to bring them from Japan to Thailand.

                      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                      • Man lying on tracks run over by train

                        NAKHON SI THAMMARAT: A man lying on the tracks was run over by a train and killed in Chawang district in the small hours of Monday.

                        Police and emergency responders were called to the rail track near Khlong Chandi station at Moo 4 village in tambon Chandi about 12.30am, Pol Capt Tossapol Thongkaew, a Chawang duty officer, said.

                        There they found the severed and multilated body of a man aged 40-50 years spread along about 100 metres of the track. He had been run over by special express train No.32 (Hat Yai - Bangkok).

                        The train driver told the police he saw the man in his headlight, lying across the track. He could not stop the train in time and it ran over him.

                        A security camera recording showed a man whose appearance matched the dead man's walking in front of Khlong Chandi railway station about 5.45pm on Sunday.

                        The body was sent to Chawang Hospital for an autopsy. Police were still trying to identify him.

                        The train later continued to Bangkok.

                        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                        • Skytrain operator set to sue Bangkok City Hall over Bt30bn debt

                          BTS Skytrain operator Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTSC) said it will sue Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) for a debt of nearly 38 billion baht it owes in operating and installation fees.

                          BTSC executive director Surapong Laoha-Unya said the debt has built up since April 2017. It comprises two separate amounts – 18 billion baht in operation and maintenance fees and almost 20 billion baht for installations.

                          The debt has increased because the BMA has failed to pay costs for operating the Green Line extension since 2017. A previous BTSC lawsuit suing BMA and its business arm Krungthep Thanakhom (KT) for 12 billion baht in Green Line operating costs since 2017 was accepted by the Administrative Court.

                          Both sides were scheduled to submit documents to the court this week but requested an extension.

                          Suraphong added that BTSC is gathering documents to file a lawsuit with the Administrative Court over the 20-billion-baht operation and maintenance debt.

                          BMA also owes 55 billion baht in civil engineering costs for the Bearing-Samut Prakan and Mo Chit-Khu Kot Green Line extensions incurred by the original owner, State Railway of Thailand. Interest on this debt has grown to around 10 billion baht.

                          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                          • SRT lays on 5 extra train services for mass of Songkran returnees

                            Railway authorities have been instructed to organise extra train services on Sunday as passenger numbers peak on the last day of the Songkran holiday.

                            Extra trains and other measures will be implemented to cope with the huge number of travellers returning to Bangkok all day and into the evening, said Department of Rail Transport deputy director-general Pichet Kunathammarak.

                            The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) has been told to increase the number of train services during rush hour, organise special trains and extend the ticket sales period.

                            Pichet said five extra services have been organised on Sunday – four inbound trains (Chiang Mai-Bangkok, Ubon Ratchathani-Bangkok, Sila At-Bangkok and Udon Thani-Bangkok) and one outbound train (Bangkok-Ubon Ratchathani).

                            "Also, railway authorities have been instructed to deploy extra officers to prevent accidents at crossings, ensure passenger safety and conduct cleaning operations to contain the spread of Covid-19," he added.

                            On Saturday, around 41,000 passengers travelled between cities by train, most of whom were returnees from other provinces.

                            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


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