The fate of a busy skytrain station connecting commuters to Bangkok’s riverside has been decided, undecided and left to hang many times in the past eight years. Now plans to close BTS Saphan Taksin – it was never meant to be permanent – are sort of back on the table.
Commuters trying to reach Asiatique, the Charoen Krung neighborhood and even the luxurious rooftop Lebua at State Tower will have to find another way for at least three years while the station is rebuilt, according to the Bangkok Mass Transit System.
Pending cabinet approval, the station would be closed 40 months — that’s 3.3 years — and THB1.1 billion (US$36 million) spent to expanding traffic lanes across Taksin Bridge and add a second track and platform to the station.
Since it opened as one of the system’s original stations in 1999, it has had only one track and platform, which means only one train can arrive at a time in either direction.
It’s not the first time we’ve heard this story. Eight years ago, City Hall’s plan to raze it and build a walkway all the way to BTS Surasak was widely panned. These plans were shelved and then revealed anew over the years, with the great cost and difficulty of upgrading the station cited. Several years ago, frustrated city fathers suggested building a robotic moving walkway in an attempt to provoke interest in their plans. It didn’t work.
No date was given in comments by the system operator’s Surapong Laoha-unya, who also claimed everything would be finished by the end of 2022, defying his own math of a 40-month effort.
Any closure would impact more than 40,000 commuters who rely on the station ever day. Shuttle buses would be provided at BTS Surasak and Krung Thon Buri, the two adjacent stations.
The upgrade, Surapong said, would result in more frequent train arrivals: every two minutes instead of what’s currently every three minutes.
So for now, file this one under “wishful thinking” and expect later this year a very certain declaration that really for sure they’re going to build those two ghost stations they’ve been charging everyone for over the past 20 years.