The first trains in a long-awaited commuter rail extension into the northern and western metro hinterlands finally rolled out this morning.
Clad in red and white, a Hitachi electric train hit the rails Monday morning, the first day of operation for the SRT Red Line, which connects the recently opened transit cathedral in Bang Sue north to Rangsit in Pathum Thani province and west to Bangkok’s Taling Chan district.
The Rangsit-bound route is called “dark red line” and promises to take passengers to 10 stations within 25 minutes, while the way to Taling Chan is called the “light red line” and passes three stations in 15 minutes.
Altogether, the extensions, which link through the Bang Sue Grand Station, add another 41 kilometers to Bangkok’s commuter rail grid. The total project is estimated to have cost somewhere north of THB32 billion (US$1 billion).
Riding the Red Line will be free until the end of October, according to Transportation Minister Saksayam Chidchob. In November, fares will start at THB12 and run up to THB42, a structure that will debut as the least expensive of all of Bangkok’s rail systems.
The Red Line is not managed by the operators behind the MRT or BTS systems, but rather is an opportunity for the deeply indebted state railway to get its beak wet.
The red line was first approved in 2007, with construction not starting until six years later in 2013. Originally due to be completed in 3 years by the end of 2016, the project experienced numerous delays.