HUGE CROWDS jostled to sample Bangkok’s first underground metro line on July 4, taking advantage of cheap introductory fares on the 22 km Blue Line. This links Hualampong and Bang Sue, serving 18 stations.

Promoted by the Mass Rapid Transit Authority, the Blue Line is operated under a concession by Bangkok Metro Co Ltd. Officially known as the Chaloem Ratchamongkhon line, the route was formally inaugurated by King Bhumibol Adulyadej on July 3 (above). It is worked by a fleet of three-car EMUs supplied by Siemens SGP, which are similar to the trains used on the two elevated Skytrain lines.

Following an earlier handover ceremony in January (RG 2.04 p65), BMCL began running a limited free service on the Blue Line in April. Announcing the royal opening, Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit confirmed on July 2 that a special flat fare of 10 baht would be charged until August 12, and all the money raised will be donated to the royal family for charitable purposes. Full revenue service is due to begin on August 13, the day after Queen Sikrit’s birthday, when fares will range from 12 to 30 baht. n