As the city grows, as business and tourism rebound after the political upheaval of the past few years, Bangkok’s rail transit gets increasingly crowded. Following the opening of a two-station extension, the first across the Chao Phraya River, the Skytrain recently put into service new four-car trains on the Silom line. At the same time, they have ordered additional cars that should arrive in the next year or so to enlarge the existing three-car trains, all of which will be placed on the Sukhumvit line.
Riding on one of the new trains recently, I was surprised to look at the system map posted over the door and discover nine stations that I had never seen before. In a fit of extreme advance planning, the maps show not only the five stations that are scheduled to open at the On Nut end of the Sukhumvit line in August 2011, but also the four stations that will be added beyond Wongwian Yai station, across the river, sometime in the later part of 2012.
Needless to say, the advance planning didn’t include the “Future Stations” stickers, so for several weeks passengers were scratching their heads, wondering whether the new stations had surreptitiously opened. The stickers have been added, though, so now everyone can admire all of the new stations they have to look forward to.
Along those lines, Tawn and I were on the northwestern outskirts of the city this past weekend visiting friends’ new baby, and we came across two sections of new rail construction, one definitely the “Purple Line” and another that was a bit confusing. It is either part of the Purple Line or else may be part of the Red Line, although I didn’t realize they had started building it.
In any case, I’m excited to see that some significant signs of progress are being made in extending the mass transit infrastructure here in Bangkok. It may take a few more years of pain, but the results should be well worth it. All we need to do now is to integrate the buses routes into the rail system and we’ll really have something going!