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Siemens: Mass transit delays to derail Thailand’s ambition

Thailand will lose out to its neighbours in the race to become a transit hub if investments in mass transit rail lines remain stalled, says an executive of the German transport group Siemens AG.

Ralph Hasselbacher, outgoing head of Siemens’ Mobility Division in Asean, said no new rail projects have been launched over the past three years partly because of political changes and uncertainty.

Tenders for the Red Line, for which most of the funding has been concluded, and the Blue Line’s extended route have not been launched. For the Purple Line, only the civil works contracts have been awarded, he said.

“Thailand has everything that you need – good geographical location, an airport hub, standard mass transit master plan in place – to become a world-class transit-oriented city. Just do it,” said Mr Hasselbacher, who is also senior vice-president of Siemens’ Thai unit. “The master plan is well prepared but it has to be executed.”

According to a paper by Siemens, transport authorities and German Technical Co-operation (GTZ), Bangkok has an equal chance as Singapore, Hong Kong or Shanghai to become a 21st-century metropolis.

To achieve this status, the Thai government should double its investment in transport infrastructure from 1.2% of gross domestic product to 2.4%, said Mr Hasselbacher.

The Red Line, in particular, should be accelerated because it will move people from Bangkok’s outskirts in and out of the capital, as well as new lines linking Bangkok with Nakhon Ratchasima and Rayong, he added.

While Thailand has progressed slowly on transport infrastructure investments, China has added more than 1,000 kilometres of railway every year, while Malaysia is constructing a north-south double-track line linking Thailand with Singapore. Vietnam’s rail system has been consistently and continually developed with more modern locomotives than Thailand has.

Siemens in February was awarded a power-supply contract for Singapore’s 40-km driverless metro line, the Downtown Line, he said.

Siemens has also made an offer to Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC) to supply one car to each of the BTS’s fleet of 35 three-car trains. It expects to hear from the Skytrain operator this month.

Mr Hasselbacher is being succeeded by Katrat Upayokin, formerly head of sales, who will become the first Thai to lead Siemens’ Mobility Division, which employs 500 people in Thailand and 700 in Asean.

  • Published: 17/05/2010 at 12:00 AM
  • Bangkok post Newspaper section: Business


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