Panel urges slashing budget for Thai rail hub sign

A file photo of the Bang Sue Grand Station. Photo: The State Railway of Thailand
A file photo of the Bang Sue Grand Station. Photo: The State Railway of Thailand

A probe into the spending on a new sign for Bangkok’s recently opened railway hub concluded with a suggestion: spend less.

Three weeks after the State Railway of Thailand came under fire for a million-dollar sign do-over at the Bang Sue Grand Station, an internal review resulted in a suggestion it should reduce the budget. The suggestion, however, was nonbinding. 

It suggested that they could reuse some of the letters used in the large sign, which was to be replaced with one reading the station’s long ceremonial name to the tune of THB33 million (USD$1 million). Other costs including planning, installation, and selection of materials should be reviewed as well to cut unnecessary expense, according to Sorapong Paitoonpong, Transport Ministry deputy secretary.

The team reviewing the project included architects, engineers, and Transport Ministry officials. It reportedly met three times between Jan. 10 and Jan. 18 and focused on the procurement process and proposed budget. 

In terms of regulations and the bidding process, the probe concluded that state railway had complied to ensure safety and engineering standards. 

However, the probe’s findings are not at all binding. It’s up to the SRT and its contractor, Unique Engineering, to implement the recommendations. 

Early this month, the railway’s proposal to change the large sign drew a huge public backlash. Some people alleged corruption, which prompted Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob to order an investigation into whether the budget was suitable for the project.

The idea to make a new sign before the station even opened came after King Vajiralongkorn bestowed a new ceremonial name on the station in September. That, the railway decided, required erecting a replacement sign comprised of 48 Thai and 62 English letters, each 3-meters high and 2.6-meters wide. 


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