TRACKLAYING is getting under way on the heavy metro Blue line in Bangkok. Mass Rapid Transit Authority’s construction department confirmed last month that the first section had been completed between Rama IX depot and the station at Tiem Ruam Mitr. Under the 3bn baht contract awarded by MRTA in October 1999, all 60 km of track is due to be in place by May 2002.

The work is being undertaken by the CKSL consortium of Ch Kamchang and SNC-Lavalin of Canada, with track materials being imported from Austria and Germany. MRTA expects to see test trains running between Rama IX and the northern terminus at Bang Sue in mid-2002, and on the southern section to Hua Lampong by the end of the year. Operating concessionaire Bangkok Metro Co Ltd is planning a formal opening to mark the king’s birthday in December 2002, with full services to start by mid-2003.

The Prime Minister’s office was expected to approve last month proposals to extend the Blue line across the Chao Praya river from Hua Lampong to Bang Wa and Bang Khae, serving the Thon Buri district at a cost of 30bn baht.

Skytrain operator Bangkok Transit System Corp is negotiating for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to undertake the civil works on two extensions to its elevated network. One would run 3 km across the river from Sathorn to Wong Wian Yai, and the other southeast for 8 km from On Nut to Samrong. A third line from Chong Nonsi to Rama III Road has been dropped.

On September 13 Thailand’s Secretary-General for Land Traffic Management, Yongyut Sarasombat, unveiled proposals to use the abandoned piers from the Bangkok Expressway & Rapid Transit System project to elevate SRT’s existing northern and eastern main lines, leaving space for a future metro line.