Rail transport in Bangkok
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Rail transport was introduced to Bangkok in 1893, with the opening of the private Paknam Railway linking Bangkok to Samut Prakan. The national railway network was subsequently developed and first opened in 1896, linking Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima and then expanding to reach Chiang Mai, Nong Khai, Ubon Ratchathani and Su-ngai Kolok. Electric trams served the city from 1894 to 1968, but further intra-city rail transport remained undeveloped until the opening of the country's first rapid transit system, the BTS Skytrain, in 1999. The MRT subsequently opened in 2004, and the Airport Rail Link began operation in 2010.
Inter-city and commuter rail
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, King Rama V eagerly built a tram network for Bangkok by employing foreign engineers and technicians, especially Danish engineers. In fact, Bangkok had electric trams before Copenhagen. However, due to a lack of interest and maintenance the tram network was completely scrapped in 1968.
Bangkok is the location of Hua Lamphong Railway Station, the main terminus of the national rail network operated by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT). Trains travelling on the Northern Line to Chiang Mai, the Northeastern Line to Nong Khai and Ubon Ratchathani, and the Eastern Line to Aranyaprathet originate at the station, and so do some trains of the Southern Line, which terminates at Su-ngai Kolok and has a connection to Malaysia (the other Southern terminus is Thonburi). In addition to long-distance services, the SRT also operates a few daily commuter trains running from and to the outskirts of the city during the rush hour, but passenger numbers have remained low.
Bangkok is currently served by three rapid transit systems: the BTS Skytrain, the underground MRT and the elevated Airport Rail Link. Although proposals for the development of rapid transit in Bangkok had been made since 1975, leading to plans for the failed Lavalin Skytrain, it was only in 1999 that the BTS finally began operation.
The BTS consists of two lines, totalling 33.5 kilometres (20.8 mi): Sukhumvit Line running southwards from Mo Chit Station in Chatuchak District along Phahon Yothin Road and then eastwards along Sukhumvit Road to Bearing Station in Bang Na District, and Silom Line which runs eastwards from National Stadium Station in Pathum Wan District, then southwest along Ratchadamri, Si Lom, Narathiwat Ratchanakharin and Sathon Roads, crossing the Chao Phraya passing Wong Wian Yai Station in Khlong San towards Bang Wa Station in Phasi Charoen District. Both lines are elevated, and interchange at Siam Station in Pathum Wan. At its opening, the BTS had seventeen stations on the Sukhumvit Line and six on Silom. Two and five additional stations have since opened on each respective line, in 2009 and 2011. Construction is ongoing to extend the eastern end of the Sukhumvit Line to Samut Prakan.[dated info]
The underground MRT system opened to service in July 2004, and currently consists of one line, the Blue Line. It runs for 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Bang Sue Station in the district of the same name in a southward arc through the east along Ratchadaphisek Road, terminating at Hua Lamphong, where it connects to the central railway station. It has eighteen stations, and connects to the BTS system at BTS stations Mo Chit, Asok, and Sala Daeng. The Blue Line is being extended to form a circle, with a western portion along Charansanitwong Road on the western side of the city, and continuing further west to Bang Khae.
Although initial passenger numbers were low and their service area remains limited to the inner city, these systems have become indispensable to many commuters. The BTS reported an average of 392,167 daily trips in 2010, while the MRT had 178,334 passenger trips per day. However, relatively high fare prices have kept these systems inaccessible to a portion of the population.
The Airport Rail Link, opened in August 2010 after many delays, connects the city centre to Suvarnabhumi Airport in Samut Prakan Province to the east. It is operated by the SRT, and offers Express and City (commuter) services between the airport and the City Air Terminal at Makkasan where it connects with Phetchaburi Station of the MRT. It terminates at Phaya Thai Station, where it connects to the BTS. Its eight stations span a distance of 28 kilometres (17 mi).
Several additional transit lines currently under construction include the northward Purple Line towards Bang Yai on the west side of the river in Nonthaburi Province, and the Light Red grade-separated commuter rail line to Taling Chan, to be run by the SRT. The entire Mass Rapid Transit Master Plan in Bangkok Metropolitan Region consists of eight main lines and four feeder lines totalling 508 kilometres (316 mi) to be completed by 2029.
In addition to rapid transit and heavy rail lines, there have been proposals for several monorail systems, the most notable being a line linking Chulalongkorn University with Siam Square, to be funded by the BMA. In 2010 Grand Canal Land Company proposed a 600–800 metre line linking its properties on Rama IX Road with the Phra Ram 9 MRT Station, but failed to secure approval.
- Rujopakarn, Wiroj (October 2003). "Bangkok transport system development: what went wrong?". Journal of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies 5: 3302–15.
- "Developer puts Bangkok on track for nation's first monorail". Bangkok Post. March 7, 2010. Retrieved December 25, 2011.[dead link]
- โมโนเรลแกรนด์คาแนลส่อวืด. Thansettakij (in Thai) (2628). 21–23 April 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2012.