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BTS looks at PPP for Skytrain route

Aug 06. 2018
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SKYTRAIN operator Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTS) plans to bid for the management of the Green Line section of the rail network – now being expanded – under a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme.

The company has also indicated that, based on a study into ticket pricing, passengers on the extended Green Line would pay no more than Bt65.

Surapong Laoha-Unya, chief executive officer of the Skytrain operator, said the company would make studies into a PPP scheme for management of the Green Line South extension, from Bearing to Samut Prasarn, and the Green Line North extension, Mo Chit, Saphanmai to Khu Khot.

Recently, the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) said it planned to open bids for management of the whole Green Line.

“BTS sees this as an opportunity if we are selected to manage the whole line as people will commute with one system and proper ticket pricing can be managed. The BMA wants to control the price for the whole line to no more than Bt65,” he said.

Meanwhile, a BTS team will study the project and await the release of contract conditions before making a decision.

Now, BTS has a concession for the core system that will expire in 2029. It was hired by the BMA to manage the first extension (Saphan Taksin - Bangwa and On Nut-Bearing) and the second extension (Bearing-Samut Prakan and Mo Chit-Saphanmai-Khu Khot) with the concession to expire in the same year.

Surapong said that the BMA may need to find a private enterprise to manage the route quickly to facilitate people needing to commute within one system, while private enterprises have to consider the worthiness of the business. Once a private enterprise wins the bid, it has to wait until the concession expires in 11 more years, shoulder BMA’s financial burden including borrowings and its costs and pay about Bt1 billion to improve Saphan Taksin station.

“Now, BTS manages the whole route. We understand that although the concession has 11 more years to expire, the BMA may need a private enterprise to hurriedly shoulder the loan and interest burdens,” he said.

BTS is preparing to study the conditions and the appropriateness of joining the bid on expectation that BMA will have a joint investor, Surapong said.

Yesterday, in regard to the preparations for management of the extension of the Green Line, BTS received the first of the 46 Skytrain complete train sets that will cost a total of Bt11 billion. Of the 46 sets, the company expects to have received 22 of them by March or April next year. About 10 of the Skytrain sets under the first batch will service the Green Line South extension, from Bearing to Samut Prakan, which will be opened for service in December. The remaining 24 train sets will come from China starting from late this year.

Signalling preparations

Surapong said that the railway signalling system must be 99.9 per cent complete before launching the extension in December and 52 more ticketing machines will be also installed at stations that month.

An anonymous source said that, based on the BMA study, investment will be divided into two periods. The first period is scheduled from 2019 to 2029 for management of the core system and extensions. Only the private winner of the new concession will make investments without income in the first phase, given the existing concession and hire contract with BTS.

The second period will be from 2030 to 2059 when a concession will be granted to a private enterprise for management, income collection, operation and maintenance for three extensions.

After the study, the BMA will propose the project to the Ministry of Interior, the State Enterprise Policy Office and the Public-Private Partnership Committee for consideration before it is sent to the Cabinet.

After that, a committee to select private enterprises under Section 35 of the Public-Private Partnership Promotion Act will be established to draft the terms of reference and makes invitation to private enterprises. Private enterprises will be given 45 days to two months before submitting proposals. The consideration of the proposals is expected to take about one month and negotiations will take one to two months.


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