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Government mulls more airport rail links

21 Nov 2014

THAILAND: Two more airport rail links are being evaluated by the government, Transport Minister Prajin Juntong announced on November 20. The two proposed lines would complement the 1 435 mm gauge line which has linked Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport with a city centre terminus at Makkasan since 2010.

One would serve Don Muang airport via a 22 km dedicated line from Phaya Thai; this project has a preliminary budget of 29bn baht. The second proposed line would link the Bangkok area with Utapao, a naval air base which lies on the coast between Pattaya and Rayong, 190 km south of the capital.

While Juntong did not confirm whether these proposed corridors would be standard gauge, he suggested that both would support the expansion of aviation capacity in southern Thailand. He explained that outline environmental assessments for the Don Muang line had already been completed, and final approval for the scheme was expected from the cabinet shortly.

Although mooted for closure when Suvarnabhumi airport opened, Don Muang is now seeing increasing patronage, and it is to be expanded to cater for 30 million passengers/year. It is already served by a station on State Railway of Thailand’s metre gauge line from Bangkok to Rangsit, which is due to be upgraded as part of the Red Line commuter rail project.

Detailed development of the proposed route to Utapao will have to wait until plans to adapt the naval air base for civilian use have been finalised, Juntong suggested. A standard gauge line between Bangkok and Rayong had been proposed by the government of Yingluck Shinawatra as one of four proposed corridors for a network of standard gauge fast passenger lines.

Meanwhile, airport link operator SRT Electric Train Co has confirmed its intention to order a further seven EMUs for its Suvarnabhumi service at a cost of 4·8bn baht. It currently operates a fleet of 36 Siemens Desiro UK cars.