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Suvarnabhumi » Airport Rail Link from Makkasan to Suvarnabhumi is way behind schedule

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

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The multibillion-baht Airport Rail Link from Makkasan to Suvarnabhumi is way behind schedule and over budget.

Last week experts met to thrash out how it can be saved before banks pull their support.

State Railway of Thailand
(SRT) deputy governor Nakorn Chanthasorn said the situation was critical.

“Originally, we were supposed to pay for the link after it was completed. The previous Cabinet resolved that we would pay up 990 days after work commenced,” he said.

“This means the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) needs to find as much as 22.6 billion Baht within the next few months. We are asking for a Cabinet solution.”

The link is meant to dash passengers from the centre of the capital to the new Bangkok airport in 15 minutes. Already Shanghai has its maglev (magnetic levitation) train to Pudong, Kuala Lumpur an airport express-rail service and trains zoom travellers from Incheon International and Gimpo airports to Seoul Station.

Bangkok’s link was originally due for completion on August 7 this year. About three months of trials would be required after that.

Last week it was calculated the rail link is almost 50 per cent behind schedule.

The project’s construction work is just under 54-per-cent complete. By now it should have been 98-per-cent done.

Work on electrical and mechanical systems is more than 70-per-cent finished but should be 96 per cent along the way.

Nakorn remained unsure about how much longer it would take before completion and what that would cost. A recent compromise between the SRT and the project’s builders secured an additional 463 days for construction.

Originally, the construction was to be paid for by contractors, who would be reimbursed by the state, with interest.

The latest number-crunching session calculated the project has cost 34.5 billion Baht, including interest. That is over budget by one third.

Now that the SRT has to cough up after 990 days from the start of building, the bill is an initial 22.6 billion Baht, including 1.4 billion Baht in interest. If the bill not paid, financial institutions could stop their support and construction will stop,” Nakorn said.

One option is to stretch the loan term to require payment when building is finished. That will incur the SRT an additional 1.4 billion Baht in interest charges. Another is to refinance.

SRT board chairman Siva Saengmanee said a decision is to be due later this year.

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