BTS Skytrain

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Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS)
บริษัท ระบบขนส่งมวลชนกรุงเทพ จำกัด (มหาชน) (บีทีเอส)
Bangkok Skytrain 2011.jpg
Owner Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA)
Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand
(Bearing-Samut Prakan/Mo Chit-Saphan Mai Extension)
Locale Bangkok, Thailand
Transit type Rapid transit
Number of lines 2
Number of stations 34
Daily ridership 600,000[1]
Began operation 5 December 1999
Operator(s) Bangkok Mass Transit System
Public Company Limited
Number of vehicles 47
System length 30.95 km (19.23 mi)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification Third rail
Average speed 35 km/h (21.75 mph)
Top speed 80 km/h (49.71 mph)

The Bangkok Mass Transit System, commonly known as the BTS or the Skytrain (Thai: รถไฟฟ้า rot fai fa), is an elevated rapid transit system in Bangkok, Thailand. It is operated by Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Company Limited (BTSC) under a concession granted by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA). The system consists of 34 stations along two lines: the Sukhumvit Line running northwards and eastwards, terminating at Mo Chit and Bearing respectively, and the Silom Line which plies Silom and Sathon Roads, the Central Business District of Bangkok, terminating at the National Stadium and Bangwa. The lines interchange at Siam Station and have a combined route distance of 55 km. The system is formally known as the Elevated Train in Commemoration of HM the King's 6th Cycle Birthday (รถไฟฟ้าเฉลิมพระเกียรติ 6 รอบ พระชนมพรรษา).

Besides the BTS, Bangkok's metro system also comprises the underground railway line MRT, and the elevated Suvarnabhumi Airport Link (SARL), serving several stations in the city before reaching the airport.



Skytrain departing Sala Daeng Station
Interior of a train.

Bangkok's first attempt at building an elevated rail network was the Bangkok Elevated Road and Train System, which was terminated in 1998 after only 10% had been completed.

The BTS system (the elevated metro system owned by Bangkok Metropolitan Administration) was initially referred to as the Lavalin Skytrain because it was to be designed using the Vancouver SkyTrain as a model adopting the technology developed by SNC-Lavalin. Due to political interference, the concession with Lavalin was cancelled in 1992, in spite of Bangkok's chronic traffic congestion. The Thai Government focused on increasing road and expressway infrastructure in an attempt to combat congestion. However, this had less than the desired impact as the number of cars on the road increased dramatically. The lines considered under the skytrain project became later the basis for the MRT system and are mainly underground.

In the early 1990s, foundations for the Lavalin Skytrain were constructed in the middle of two bridges spanning the Chao Phraya river. The Taksin bridge now supports the Silom line to Thon Buri, completed in April 2009. The supports at Phra Pok Klao bridge remain unused but may be utilised as part of the MRT's future Purple Line.

Shortly after it became clear that the Lavalin Skytrain was stalled, then-governor Major General Chamlong Srimuang asked his deputy Captain Kritsada Arunwong na Ayutthaya to create a new feeder system with a route along Sukhumvit and Silom Road. Krisda, who in the same period was elected governor, and his team from Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) managed to find an investor to build it. Krisda also convinced all to let the city supervise the project. The investor founded Bangkok Transit System Corporation (BTSC) and this company successfully financed the system and grew it from a feeder system to a full mass transit project. Siemens as supplier of the railway technology and the Thai contractor Italian Thai Development built the system for BTSC.

The "Skytrain" name was given later by the press.

Originally, the Skytrain depot was to be built underneath Lumphini Park, but due to widespread objections from Bangkok residents it was constructed on a parcel of land located along Phahonyothin Road, replacing the old Northern/Northeastern bus terminal (Mo Chit). The current depot at Mo Chit is a part of the proposed 'Bangkok Terminal' project, where a large complex comprising a new regional bus terminal, park and ride facility and other commercial development can be built directly above it.

Thanayong Public Company Limited (SETTYONG,[2] Thai: บริษัท ธนายง จำกัด (มหาชน)) had a 28.21% stake in BTSC when the Skytrain began, and therefore in its early days the system was sometimes referred to as the "Thanayong Skytrain".

The Skytrain system was officially opened on 5 December 1999 by Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. It initially had lower-than-predicted ridership, with 200,000 passenger trips per day. Ticket revenue was only enough to meet the trains' operating cost, and not sufficient to service construction loans. However, the Skytrain's daily passenger numbers have steadily increased since then. On 9 December 2005, more than 500,000 single trips were made on the Skytrain in a single day for the first time. As of September 2012, the Skytrain serves around 600,000 passengers on an average day, with a peak of 715,000, and is upgrading to a fleet of 35 four-car trains.[3]

The company implemented a contactless ticketing system in 2007 named 'BTS SmartPass', and plans to allow both BTS and Airport Link passengers to use their RFID smart cards as single ticketing system not before 2014. A one-ticket system for BTS and MRT will be expected by 2015.[4]

  • 5 Dec 1999: Sukhumvit Line: Mo Chit – On Nut; Silom Line: National Stadium – Saphan Taksin
  • 15 May 2009: Silom Line: Saphan Taksin – Wong Wian Yai
  • 12 Aug 2011: Sukhumvit Line: On Nut – Bearing
  • 12 Jan 2013: Silom Line: Wong Wian Yai – Pho Nimit[5] – Talat Phlu
  • 5th Dec 2013: Silom Line; Wuttakat Rd; Bang Wa Terminus

Station layout[edit]

Exterior view of Wongwian Yai Station
The upper platform at Siam interchange station, for north- and west-bound trains

All of the system's stations are elevated and constructed on three levels.[6] The street level provides access to the station proper via stairs and often escalators. Supporting utility equipment (generators, water tanks, etc.) are usually located at this level on traffic islands.

The first elevated level of the stations contains the ticket booths, some small kiosk-like shops and access control gates. The second level (and third at Siam station) is again accessed with stairs and escalators and contains the platforms and rails. With the exception of Siam Station, the stations follow a side platform layout. Siam Station utilizes island platforms to facilitate cross-platform interchange between the two lines. Additionally, many stations have ramps and elevators to allow passengers who use wheelchairs to access the ticketing hall and platforms from the street. The distances between doors are equal throughout the train, regardless of whether they are in the same or different cars, and the locations where the doors will be after the train has stopped are marked on the platform. The platforms are built to accommodate trains of six cars, but trains of only three or four cars are in operation. Security personnel are stationed at every platform and ticketing hall. For safety reasons,[clarification needed] there are often signs at the escalators: "Please stand on the right of the escalator and hold the handrail".

Three Skytrain stations, Sala Daeng, Asok and Mo Chit, are interchanges with the underground MRT system. Saphan Taksin station is connected to the adjacent Sathon pier where the Chao Phraya Express Boat services call. Many stations are linked by 'Skybridges' (overhead pedestrian walkways) to neighbouring buildings and public amenities.

Consumption of food or drinks is forbidden past the ticketing gate or on the Skytrain.

Platform screen doors will be installed at the On Nut, Phrom Phong, Asok, Chit Lom, Siam, Phaya Thai, Victory Monument, Sala Daeng and Chong Nonsi by 2013.[7]


Ticketing machine at Mo Chit Station

For single-trip and stored-value ticket holders fares are calculated according to distance, but adult / student / tourist passes for limited / unlimited train rides are also available. Next to the magnetic fare cards, which require replacement once every two years, the Skytrain has adopted near-field contactless technology in its ticketing system, with the intent of becoming compatible with the system presently used in the MRT.[citation needed]

In May 2012, the new stored-value ticket called Rabbit Card was launched instead of the old one. Rabbit Card is a brand new electronic payment card system that allows holders to pay for the fee of BTS and BRT with only one card.[8] Rabbit Cards can also be used to pay for other services and restaurants that are associated with BTS, for example, McDonald's, Burger King, Starbucks, etc.[9]

Stations and lines[edit]

At its opening, the BTS had twenty-three stations on its two lines: seventeen on the Sukhumvit Line and six on the Silom Line, with both lines interchanging at Siam. Six and five additional stations have since opened on the Silom and Sukhumvit lines respectively.

Line Terminals
Opened Newest
Sukhumvit Line Mo Chit
(Bang Na)
1999 2011 22.3 22
Silom Line National Stadium
(Pathum Wan)
Bang Wa
(Phasi Charoen)
1999 2013 14.5 13
Total (One station is shared) 36.8 35

Route extension[edit]

In 2002, cabinet of then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra amended a law in order to allow a private firm to finance the cost of operating the train system, while the government would take care of all the civil engineering work. On 18 October 2005, with no approval from the central government forthcoming, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) decided to complete the 2.2 km Silom Line route extension (Krung Thonburi Station and Wongwian Yai Station) using its own budget. Construction began on 13 December 2005 with completion originally expected within a year, but problems with tendering for the signalling system repeatedly pushed back the schedule, with the extension finally opening on 15 May 2009. However, Saphan Taksin Station (originally designed to be only a temporary station), and the river crossing itself, has only one track, which has caused repeated delays during rush hour.

A second extension from On Nut Station to Bearing Station started construction in 2007, and was opened on 12 August 2011.

Further extensions have been proposed from Mo Chit Station to Saphan Mai Station, from Bearing Station to Samut Prakan Province, from Wongwian Yai Station to Bang Wa Station and from National Stadium Station to Phran Nok Station. The first stations on the Bang Wa extension, Pho Nimit opened on 12 January 2013 and Talat Phlu opened on 14 February 2013, with the rest of the line to be completed in stages by the end of 2013.[10] Originally, passengers must change platforms and trains at Wongwian Yai to travel beyond it. But since the opening of Bang Wa station on 5 December 2013, this is no longer the case.

Further extension for the BTS can be summarized as follows:

  • Under construction:
    • Silom Line: Wong Wian Yai – Pho Nimit – Talat Phlu – Wutthakat – Bang Wa (terminating at Phetkasem Road) – 5.25 km Under Construction, to open in 2013.[11][12]
Bearing Station, current terminus of Sukhumvit Line
    • Sukhumvit Line: Bearing – Samut Prakan Province – 10.6 km Signed contract with Ch. Karnchang.[13] Construction started April 2012, to open in 2017.
  • Planned:
    • Mo Chit – Saphan Mai – 11.4 km. (construction to start 4Q 2013[14])
    • National Stadium – Yot Se (terminating at Bamrungmueang Road) – 6.8 km.
    • Samut Prakan (Bang Ping) – Bang Pu.
    • Bang Na – Suvarnabhumi Airport (terminating at future South Passenger Terminal of Suvarnabhumi Airport, light rail train). Start construction in 2014 and to be open in 2017.[15]
    • Saphan Mai – Khlong 6.

BTS Group Holdings will likely be bringing on more lines in the further through financing built out of its BTS Rail Mass Transit Growth Infrastructure Fund after it got approval from the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission in March 2013. The IPO is expected to raise $2.1 billion, the largest in Thailand's history.[16]

BTS Skytrain Extension lines
Line Colour Date opening Terminal Length /km Number of stations Status
Sukhumvit Line extension Light Green 2017 Bearing Kheha Samut Prakan 11 km (6.8 mi) 7 Under Construction
2019 Mo Chit Saphan Mai 11 km (6.8 mi) 12 Planned
2019 Kheha Samut Prakan Bang Pu  ??  ?? Planned
2017 Udom Suk Suvarnabhumi Airport  ??  ?? Planned
2029 Saphan Mai Eastern Outer Ring  ?? 8 Planned
Silom Line extension Dark Green 2019 National Stadium Yot Se 7 km (4.3 mi) 1 Planned

Rolling stock[edit]

Siemens Train, service for Sukhumvit Line
Changchun Train, service for Silom Line

The BTS Skytrain uses two variations of Electric Multiple Unit rolling stock. All operate on 1435 mm rail gauge (standard gauge). All trains have 4 doors on each side per car, an air-conditioning unit, and LCD monitors for public announcement and advertising. The power supply for all trains is at 750 V DC from the third rail.

Siemens Train[edit]

The rolling stock of BTS Skytrain, in use since the opening of the line in 1999, consist of 35 Siemens Modular Metro trains from Siemens AG. All trains have 3 cars, 2 motor cars and 1 trailer on center. The Sukhumvit line used to employs 20 trains, and the Silom Line has 15. After the 12 new Bombardier trains were delivered for the Silom line. The 15 Siemens trains that were in service on the Silom moved to the Sukhumvit line. To increase capacity, in October 2010, Siemens agreed to provide an extra car for each train, making them up to four cars.[17] These extra cars are now in operation in October 2012 on Sukhumvit line. [1]

The Silom Line cars have been modified to support a signaling system from Bombardier Transportation since the extension from Saphan Taksin to Wong Wian Yai.

Changchun trains[edit]

The BTSC ordered 12 new trains (12 sets of 4 cars) from Changchun Railway Vehicles Co. Ltd., though their design will be modified to the existing BTS's Siemens Modular Metro. The new trains were delivered in June 2010 to serve on the Silom Line, which cannot increase train frequency because of a single track bottleneck at Saphan Taksin station, though the number of passengers increased after the Wong Wian Yai and Krung Thonburi stations were opened. These trains consist of 2 motor cars and 2 trailer cars and will feature LCD TVs for public announcements and advertising. An advanced digital voice announcement (DVA) and passenger information systems will be installed. In 2013 these trains were all moved to Sukhumvit line.


The first years of operations saw limited ridership. The line had few direct ramps into malls and lacked escalators. Little by little, while escalators were installed and side bridges added, patronage increased. The opening of Siam Paragon Mall in 2004, at the time Thailand's most luxurious mall, boosted crowds at the system's central Siam station. The redevelopment of the Ratchaprasong and Siam districts as well as new "skywalks" fostered growing accessibility. Ridership continued to increase with incremental expansion of the line, from 529,466 weekday passengers in 3Q11[1] to 573,041 in January 2012,[1] to 668,302 in Aug 2013, surpassing 600,000 passengers daily for all of August.[18] Nowadays at peak hour, the trains sometimes depart without being able to take all waiting passengers. The total number of passenger trips that has been made in the between May 12, 1999 and September 25th, 2013 is 1,794,280,399.[19] Political unrest in Bangkok has led to an all time high Sunday ridership of 760,000, while the subway also hit record highs.[20]

Riders [21]
No. Station Number (People per day)
1 Siam Station 112,600
2 Asok Station 85,100
3 Mo Chit Station 79,500
4 Victory Monument Station 79,000
5 Sala Daeng Station 52,900
6 On Nut Station 52,600
7 Chit Lom Station 47,300
8 Phaya Thai Station 42,800
9 Bearing Station 41,400
10 Phrom Phong Station 39,600

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ "Tanayong Company Profile". Archived from the original on 7 May 2010. 
  3. ^ Wiriyapong, Nareerat (29 August 2012). "Sukhumvit BTS line to get four-car trains in October". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Mahitthirook, Amornrat (19 February 2012). "One-ticket system for BTS and MRT expected by 2015". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ BTSC. "Station Structure". BTS official web site. Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Company Limited. Archived from the original on 9 October 2008. Retrieved 3 November 2008. 
  7. ^ "BTS stations to get platform doors". Bangkok Post. 17 September 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2012. 
  8. ^ Rabbit Card. Available from
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Silom line's extension faces delay". The Nation (Bangkok). 1 May 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  12. ^ "Skytrain extension opening delayed". Bangkok Post. 27 November 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  13. ^ "Ch. Karnchang wins Green Line bid". Bangkok Post. 14 November 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  14. ^ Traffic snarls to last five years
  15. ^
  16. ^ Maierbrugger, Arno (17 March 2013). "Thailand’s largest ever IPO a done deal". Inside Investor. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  17. ^ "Bangkok’s Skytrain increases train fleet – International Railway Journal". 12 October 2010. Archived from the original on 21 October 2010. Retrieved 12 October 2010. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ BTS. Available from
  20. ^
  21. ^

External links[edit]