CEREMONIES were held in Bangkok on February 5, when Thai Prime Minister Chuan commissioned the first tunnel boring machine for the northern section of the Blue line metro. According to the Mass Rapid Transit Authority, work on the 11 km northern section from Rama IX Road to Bang Sue is due to be completed by 2002, with revenue services starting the following year.

Design and construction of the 9 km twin bored tunnels, 6·0m in diameter, and nine stations has been contracted to the ION joint venture of Italian-Thai Development, Obayashi Corp and Nishimatsu Construction with design work by Arup. The southern part of the 20 km route between Hualampong and Rama IX Road was contracted to Germany’s Bilfinger & Berger in 1996 (RG 12.96 p777).

Total cost of the Blue line is put at £2bn, of which the government will contribute 80%. Project management is being provided by a consortium including Mott MacDonald and DeLeuw Cather. Construction has been split into five packages: the southern and northern sections, depot, station equipment and trackwork. The operating concessionaire will be responsible for the rolling stock, signalling and power supplies.