ON APRIL 17 Siemens SGP Transport Systems unveiled in Wien the first of 35 three-car metro sets for the Bangkok Mass Transit System. The blue, white and red-flashed vehicles are due to enter service in early 2000.

They form part of a DM4bn turnkey contract for Tanayong subsidiary Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Company Ltd (BTSC), which has a 30-year concession to build and operate a 25 km elevated light metro network in the Thai capital. Siemens is carrying out construction and commissioning in conjunction with Thailand’s largest civil engineering contractor, Italian-Thai Development (ITD). The German company is also handling power supply, permanent way and signalling at a total cost of DM1·2bn. Civil and building works account for a further DM1·8bn.

Operating on the elevated 17 km Sukhumvit and 8 km Silom lines, the trains will carry up to 287 passengers in each car. This meets the specified capacity of 22500 passengers/h each way on the Sukhumvit line with 135sec headways and 13500 passengers/h each way on the Silom line with 225sec headways. Multiple-unit operation will allow capacity to be doubled if required.

Bodyshells are of stainless steel construction to resist corrosion in Bangkok’s humid climate. A three-car unit is powered by eight asynchronous self-ventilated induction motors, each rated continuously at 230 kW. These are controlled by IGBTs up to the maximum speed of 80 km/h. Both rheostatic and regenerative braking is provided. Weight of a three-car set is 102 tonnes.


Inside the cars passengers will find decor and layout devised by Porsche Design. The longitudinal seating is set on a slight curve so that most seated passengers do not face each other directly. Our correspondent remarks that it was surprising how few degrees of rake were needed to prevent awkward enforced eye contact.

But ’the interior design inspired by the painter Mondrian’, referred to by Siemens’ Heavy Rail Division chief Rainer Kehl when he welcomed guests to the unveiling, was not evident. Porsche Design Managing Director Dirk Schmauser said: ’I wish he hadn’t said anything about Mondrian, because there’s nothing of him left.’ Plans to use the Dutch painter’s stark primary colours were thwarted by the client’s rejection of black grab rails as ’too oppressive’, and deep blue floors as ’too susceptible to dirt.’ Only the bright yellow seats remain.


Just how badly efficient rail-based transport is needed in Bangkok was underlined by one Thai dignitary present at Wien who observed: ’just because you’re on a bus in Bangkok doesn’t mean that you’re going anywhere.’

BTSC has been confident since the outset that its investment will pay off, but outside financiers did not share the company’s optimism during the early days of the project. In an extraordinary confidence-building exercise, the civil contractor, which has a 14% stake in BTSC, started work in 1996 without any assurance that the necessary additional investment would be available. ITC Executive Vice President Nijaporn Charanachitta said she had one or two worries during the first 18 months, ’but once the banks saw the line going up above the traffic jams, they knew nothing was going to stop us.’

The financing package was finally agreed in October 1997, when a third of the first line had been built. The first drawdown on outside finance was made a month later, only five months before the first train was rolled out. o

CAPTION: Bogies assembled in Graz are equipped with resilient wheels to provide high standards of ride comfort

CAPTION: Four pairs of doors are fitted on each side of the Austrian-built Tanayong cars

Suppliers of Tanayong car equipment

Main contractor: Siemens

Entrance doors: Faiveley

Emergency exit doors: Fine Products

Air-conditioning: Hagenuk Faiveley

Brake systems: Knorr Bremse and Dehausse

Passenger information: Ascom Austria

Public address: Wandel & Goltermann

Gangways: Hübner

Couplers: Scharfenberg