BTS Skytrain

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Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS)
(aka. BTS Skytrain)
Bangkok Skytrain 2011.jpg
Native name บริษัท ระบบขนส่งมวลชนกรุงเทพ จำกัด (มหาชน) (บีทีเอส)
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[1][2]
Number of stations 34[1][2]
Daily ridership 600,000[3]
Began operation 5 December 1999
Operator(s) Bangkok Mass Transit System
Public Company Limited
Number of vehicles 47
System length 36.45 km (22.65 mi)[1]
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification Third rail
Average speed 35 km/h (22 mph)
Top speed 80 km/h (50 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 Bang Wa. The lines interchange at Siam Station and have a combined route length of 36.45 kilometers (22.65 mi). 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.
Bts Station

Bangkok's first attempt at building an elevated rail network was the Bangkok Elevated Road and Train System (BERTS), 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 and a viaduct for the Lavalin Skytrain were constructed in the middle of the Phra Pok Klao bridge which crosses the Chao Phraya river. (The planned metro 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 had 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 the 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. Thanayong Public Company Limited (SETTYONG,[4] 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".

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 following the Vancouver example where the elevated metro had been coined Skytrain. 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.

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 served around 600,000 passengers on an average day increasing to 650,000 on an average weekday in 2013. A record 760,000 passengers traveled on Sunday 22 December 2013, a day of mass political protest in Bangkok.[5] The normal Sunday average is 400,000 passengers. The BTS currently has a fleet of 51 four-car trains.

The company implemented a contact less ticketing system in 2007 named 'BTS SmartPass', and initially planned to integrate BTS and Airport Link passengers to use their RFID smart cards as single ticketing system. However, a single ticketing platform for the BTS, MRT and ARL will be implemented by late 2015.[6]

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.[7] 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. To give hasty passengers some leeway, there are often signs at the escalators: "Walk Left, Stand Right".

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 (half size) have been installed at On Nut, Phrom Phong, Asok, Chit Lom, Siam, Phaya Thai, Victory Monument, Sala Daeng and Chong Nonsi stations in 2014.[8] These will eventually be installed at all stations. The installation at Phrom Phrong station caused a software problem and a 6-hour shutdown of all BTS services on 24 December 2013, leading to gridlock in the city.[9]


Ticketing machine at Mo Chit Station

For single-trip and stored-value ticket holders fares are calculated according to distance, but adult / student / senior 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.[10] 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.[11]

Stations and lines[edit]

Main articles: Sukhumvit Line and Silom Line

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. Since then, six additional stations have opened on the Silom Line, and five additional stations have opened on the Sukhumvit Line, respectively.

Line Terminals
Opened Newest
Length Stations
Sukhumvit Line Mo Chit
(Bang Na)
1999[12] 2011[12] 22.25 km[1] 22[1]
Silom Line National Stadium
(Pathum Wan)
Bang Wa
(Phasi Charoen)
1999[12] 2013[12] 14.2 km[1] 13[1]
TOTAL (Note: One station, Siam is shared) 36.45 km[1] 34[1][2]

Route extensions[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.

1st extension, Silom Line, South[edit]

On 18 October 2005, with no approval from the central government forthcoming, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) decided to fund and complete the 2.2 kilometers (1.4 mi) Silom Line route extension to Krung Thonburi Station (S07) and Wongwian Yai Station (S08). Construction began on 13 December 2005 with completion originally expected within 2 years. However, problems with the tendering and installation of a new Bombardier open signalling system repeatedly pushed back the schedule. The extension finally opening on 15 May 2009. However, the single platform Saphan Taksin Station (originally designed to be only a temporary station) which has only one track has caused repeated delays during rush hour. In 2012, the BMA announced plans to demolish Saphan Taksin station in the future.

2nd extension, Sukhumvit Line, East[edit]

A second extension, the 5.25 km On Nut Station (E09) to Bearing Station (E14) started construction in August 2006.[13] The 4 billion baht extension was again funded by the BMA.[14] The original scheduled opening date was mid 2009. However, an unusual, prolonged delay in the tendering of the contract for the Electrical & Signals resulted in a 2-year delay to the project; "The senior City Hall official responsible for making the purchase has apparently stalled the scheme over fears of being investigated if something went wrong with the purchase, he said. The official in question is due to retire and does not want to take risks despite being told the scheme is strictly in line with regulations, said Mr Teerachon".[15]

The BTSC was contracted by the BMA to run the extension. Subsequently, the extension did not open until over 2 years later on 12 August 2011. The delay in opening prompted the BMA to offer free travel for this extension until the end of 2011 as compensation. A flat fare is charged for this section. The fee for this extension is separate from the distance based fare of the rest of the BTS network.

3rd extension, Silom Line, South[edit]

The third extension to the network, a 5.3 km, 4 station extension from Wongwian Yai (S8) to Bang Wa (S12) in Phasi Charoen District started construction in the 2nd quarter of 2011 with a deadline of the end of 2012. Only the stations had to be constructed as the viaduct had been completed some years prior. However, construction was delayed for many months by the Bangkok floods of late 2011. It eventually opened in stages. Pho Nimit opened on 12 January 2013, Talat Phlu opened on 14 February 2013, with the last two stations opening on 5 December 2013.[16] For most of 2013, passengers changed platforms and trains at Wongwian Yai for a shuttle service to S09 & S10 as there was no turnout at S10 for through trains. Since the opening of the final section of the extenion to Bang Wa station on 5 December 2013, this is no longer the case.

Summary of BTS Extensions

  • 5 December 1999: Sukhumvit Line: Mo Chit – On Nut; Silom Line: National Stadium – Saphan Taksin
  • 15 May 2009: Silom Line: Saphan Taksin (S06) – Wong Wian Yai(S08)
  • 12 August 2011: Sukhumvit Line: On Nut (E09) – Bearing (E14)
  • 12 January 2013: Silom Line: Wong Wian Yai (S08) – Pho Nimit (S09)[17]
  • 14 February 2013: Silom Line: Talat Phlu (S10)
  • 5 December 2013: Silom Line: Wuttakat (S11); Bang Wa (S12)

Under construction[edit]

Construction started in April 2012 for a 12.6 km (7.8 mi), 7 station extension from Bearing Station (E14) to Samut Prakan Station (E23). The extension is being built by Ch. Karnchang.[18] 2 stations (E18 & E22) will be built at a later date. The extension is funded by the MRTA as it is outside BMA citylimits, Bangkok Province. Construction is contracted to take 1350 days and the extension is planned to open in 2017. In April 2013, the MRTA awarded Ch Karnchang the contract for track laying and electrical systems.[19] As of June 2014, civil works were stated to be 28.30% complete.

Future extension plans[edit]

Sukhumvit Line, North[edit]

  • 1) Mo Chit station to Saphan Mai: 11.4 km, 11 stations (N9–N20). (Under tender)
  • 2) Saphan Mai to Khu Khut: 7.5 km, 4 stations (N21-N24). (Under tender)

A 11.4 km, 11 station northern extension from Mo Chit Station to Saphan Mai in Don Mueang District has been planned since the Sukhumvit line opened. Originally, this extension was scheduled to be completed by 2008. However, due to a combination of changes in government, a prolonged EIA study and problems with locating a suitable train depot, the extension has been continually delayed.

A further 16.5 km, 9 station extension from Saphan Mai to Lam Lukka was also planned once the extension to Saphan Mai had been completed. This was subsequently split into two extensions. A 7.5 km, 4 station extension to Khu Khut and a 9 km, 5 station extension along Lam Lukka rd to Lam Lukka.

Due to the significant delay in the northern extension plans, in mid 2013 it was decided by the MRTA to tender extension (1) & (2) at the same time by the end of 2013. However, the dissolution of parliament in November 2013 delayed this yet again. A tender was finally released in January 2014 [20] with an April deadline before being delayed until late May 2014 due to concerns from bidders.[21]

A military coup in late May suspended the bidding process whilst the military administration reviewed all major projects. In late June, the military administration affirmed the tender which will proceed before the end of 2014. In mid August, the MRTA announced that the new tender deadline will be 30 September 2014.[22] 5 bidders have qualified and successful bids will be announced by December.[23] It is envisaged that construction will commence by early 2015. The tender specifies a construction period of 1350 days.

  • 3) Khu Khut to Lam Lukka: 9 km, 5 stations (N25-N29). (Planned by 2029)

A further 9 km, 5 station extension from Khu Khot Station to Lam Lukka Station is planned to be constructed by 2029.

Sukhumvit Line, East[edit]

  • A further 7 km, 5 station extension from Kheha Samut Prakan Station to Bang Pu Station is planned. It may be tendered by 2015/16 for completion by 2019/20.
  • Long terms plans call for a spur line from Bang Na – Suvarnabhumi Airport (terminating at future South Passenger Terminal of Suvarnabhumi Airport). However, this may also be built a light rail (monorail) line.

Silom Line, South[edit]

After the opening of S11 & S12 on 5 December 2013, the BMA announced a new proposal to further extended the Silom line by 7 km from Bang Wa (S12) station, by six stations to Taling Chan, where it would connect with the SRT Light Red Line.[24]

If approved, the proposed time frame would be for completion of design by 2015. Construction would be undertaken from 2016 - 2018 for a planned 2019 opening. Part of the basis for this further extension by the BMA is that it would provide proximate access to the Southern Bus Terminal. This proposal is currently under preliminary study by the BMA.

Silom Line, West[edit]

The Silom line is planned to be extended by one or two stations west along Rama 1 from National Stadium (W1) to link with the SRT Dark Red Line at Yot Se station. However, no time frame for this extension has been announced and this section of the Dark Red Line will not be built before 2018.

Originally, the plan was to extend the Silom line west from National Stadium into Chinatown, then north to Democracy Monument where it would then run west to Rattanakosin Island and Sanum Luang, tunnel under the river to the Thonburi side before terminating at Phra Nok. However, this plan was shelved back in 2009 and much of this route has been replaced by routing changes to the planned MRT Orange Line.

BTS Group Holdings will be bidding to manage more BTS and MRT lines in the future 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 raised $2.1 billion, the largest in Thailand's history.[25]

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 12.6 km (7.8 mi) 7 Under Construction
2019(?) Mo Chit Khu Khut 18.9 km (11.7 mi) 16 Under Construction
2019/20 Kheha Samut Prakan Bang Pu 7 km (4.3 mi) 4 Planned
2029 Udom Suk Suvarnabhumi Airport  ?? 12 Planned
2029 Khu Khut Eastern Outer Ring 9 km (5.6 mi) 4 Planned
Silom Line extension Dark Green 2020+(?) National Stadium Yot Se 2 km (1.2 mi) 1-2 Planned
2019 Bang Wah Taling Chan 7 km (4.3 mi) 6 Preliminary study

Rolling stock[edit]

Siemens Train
Changchun Train

The BTS Skytrain uses two variations of electric multiple unit rolling stock. All operate on 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) 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]

First order[edit]

The rolling stock of BTS Skytrain, in use when the line opened in 1999, consisted of 35 Siemens Modular Metro trains from Siemens AG. These initial trains had 3 cars, 2 motor cars and 1 trailer on center. The Sukhumvit line used to employ 20 trains, and the Silom Line had 15.

After the 12 new 4 car CNR trains were delivered for the Silom line in December 2010, the 15 Siemens trains that were in service on the Silom moved to the Sukhumvit line.

Second order: extra cars to expand to 4-car train operations[edit]

To increase capacity, in October 2010, BTSC ordered an extra 35 single cars from Siemens to make each train a four car set.[26][27]

These extra cars were progressively introduced into operation from November 2012 to March 2013, when all 35 sets of Siemens rolling stock finally became 4 car sets.[28]

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]

First order[edit]

In early 2008, the BTSC ordered 12 new trains (12 sets of 4 cars) from Changchun Railway Vehicles Co. Ltd. (EMU B class) to cater for the then soon to open Wong Wian Yai extension of the Silom Line. Their design was modified to the existing BTS's Siemens Modular Metro. The new trains were delivered late and only began service the Silom Line in December 2010. This was some 18 months after the Wong Wian Yai and Krung Thonburi stations were opened in May 2009 during which time there was severe overcrowding on the Silom line.

These trains consist of 2-motor cars and 2-trailer cars (i.e. 4-car trainsets) and feature LCD TVs for public announcements and advertising. An advanced digital voice announcement (DVA) and passenger information systems was installed.

Second order[edit]

In September 2011, the BTSC ordered 5 more 4-car trainsets of CNR rolling stock for 1.5 billion baht to prepare for the Silom Line extension to Bang Wa which was then due to open in December 2012.[29] These 5 new train sets of rolling stock entered service on 29 November 2013 after the first two stations of the Silom line extension to Bang Wa opened in January and February 2013, respectively. This second batch of CNR EMUs (B Class) differ slightly from the first batch in exterior fitting out such as with the LCDs screens, LED route displays, signage and passenger communication units.


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 2011[3] to 573,041 in January 2012,[3] to 668,302 in Aug 2013, surpassing 600,000 passengers daily for all of August.[30] 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 between 12 May 1999 and 25 September 2013 is 1,794,280,399.[2] Political unrest in Bangkok has led to an all-time high Sunday ridership of 760,000, while the subway also hit record highs.[31]

Riders [32]
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 d e f g h i "BTS SkyTrain System - Structure of Routes and Stations". Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Company Limited. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Current Service Routes". Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Company Limited. December 2013. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  3. ^ a b c "BTS Group Holdings". The Nation ( 17 February 2012. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  4. ^ "Our History". BTS Group Holdings Public Company Limited. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  5. ^ 'Trains gain as rallies clog roads', Bangkok Post, 26 December 2013
  6. ^ Mahitthirook, Amornrat (19 February 2012). "One-ticket system for BTS and MRT expected by 2015". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  7. ^ "Structure of Routes and Stations". Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Company Limited. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  8. ^ "BTS stations to get platform doors". Bangkok Post. 17 September 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-17. 
  9. ^ "Commuters caught in chaos after Skytrain shuts down in morning". The Nation (Bangkok). 25 December 2013. 
  10. ^ "What is Rabbit". Bangkok Smartcard System Company Limited (BSS). Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  11. ^ "BTS Rabbit Cards". Bangkok BTS. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  12. ^ a b c d "Company’s Profile". Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Company Limited. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  13. ^ Groundbreaking starts on new BTS extension, Dailynews, 15 August 2006
  14. ^ BTS extension budget cut, Bangkok Post, 15 December 2006
  15. ^ Skytrain link tests delayed, Bangkok Post, 19 September 2009
  16. ^ "BTS Skytrain starts it’s new station Pho Nimit today and comimg more near to metro park sathorn". 12 January 2013. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  17. ^ "Sukhumbhand woos commuters". The Nation ( 16 January 2013. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  18. ^ "Ch. Karnchang wins Green Line bid". Bangkok Post. 14 November 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-15. 
  19. ^ "Ch Karnchang gets Phase 2 of Bearing-Samut Prakan route" The Nation, 13 April 2013
  20. ^
  21. ^ "รฟม.ปรับทีโออาร์หมอชิต-คูคต กลางปี59 เปิดให้บริการสายสีม่วง"Prachachat News, 26 May 2014
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ Maierbrugger, Arno (17 March 2013). "Thailand’s largest ever IPO a done deal". Inside Investor. Retrieved 2013-03-18. 
  26. ^ "Bangkok's Skytrain increases train fleet". International Railway Journal. 11 October 2010. Retrieved 2014-08-08. 
  27. ^ Wiriyapong, Nareerat (29 August 2012). "Sukhumvit BTS line to get four-car trains in October". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  28. ^ "News & Events - BTS takes delivery of new train cars from SIEMENS". BTS Group Holdings Public Company Limited. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 2014-08-08. 
  29. ^ "More 4-car trains on BTS shopping list". The Bangkok Post. 29 September 2011. Retrieved 2014-08-08. 
  30. ^ "Skytrain passengers hit 600,000 in August". The Nation ( 19 September 2013. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  31. ^ "Trains gain as rallies clog roads". Bangkok Post. 26 December 2013. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  32. ^ "10 สถานีบีทีเอส ยอดผู้ใช้บริการสูงสุด" [10 stations BTS riders to the maximum]. ประชาชาติธุรกิจ [Nation] (in Thai). Retrieved 2014-06-26. 

External links[edit]