By THE NATION
An anonymous source from BTS Group Holdings Plc (BTS) said that it has been informed that BSR Joint Venture has passed a preliminarily assessment for its technical bid for the high-speed railway project and is awaiting the official announcement of the State Railway of Thailand (SRT).
The SRT is expected to consider the pricing bids over the coming week and the outcome of the bidding process is expected this month, the source said.
BTS holds a 60 per cent stake in BSR Joint Venture, while Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction Plc and Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Plc each own 20 per cent.
Worawut Mala, SRT’s acting governor, said yesterday that the committee will convene to inspect the document to finalise the scores for the technical bid before considering the pricing bid, adding that it will take about one week to decide the winner.
A contract signing is still expected no later than January 31.
Separately, at the opening ceremony for the 13-kilometre extension of the Green Line electric railway from Bearing to Samut Prakan yesterday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that the new link will help alleviate traffic congestion and that input from transport-related agencies was required for development plans for further road and rail works to solve the capital’s traffic problems as a top priority.
Pailin Chuchottaworn, Deputy Minister for Transport, said that the extended and alleviated link will help relieve traffic congestion for commuters between Bangkok and Samut Prakan. Free service and a park-and-ride compound covering 18 rai for 1,200 vehicles at Kheha Samut Prakan station will continue to be provided until April 15 next year.
Regarding the pricing of the fare for the whole Green Line route at Bt65 per trip, this is not found in a transfer agreement but was a proposal of the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA), said Pailin, who conceded that the proposed fare is cheaper than the Blue Line's fare of Bt70 per trip for the whole line. The Blue Line has an underground part that carries higher costs.
Fare pricing is determined by agreement between the private enterprise operator and the BMA.
Pakapong Sirikantaramas, governor of the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA), said that the construction of the extension started in 2012 and the Green Line service was extended from Bearing for one station to Samrong in April 2017. There are nine stations along the extended route.
Keeree Kanjanapas, BTS Group Holdings Plc’s chairman, said that he has not yet had official discussions with the BMA for running the Bearing-Samut Prakan extended route and the Mo Chit-Saphan Mai-Khu Khot section and having BTS set the whole-route fare for the Green Line at no more than Bt65 per trip.
"[We] must talk about the fare seriously as the private enterprise which invests does not know whether or not it is able to reduce the fare that much.
But I do not say that it's impossible. We have to sit down and talk about this matter seriously. Ultimately, it will be me who decides. Now, I don't think that's final,” Keeree said.
The cost of the whole Green Line stays at over Bt140 per trip and if the fare is discounted to Bt65 per trip, fares for the Mo Chit-On Nut and National Stadium-Saphan Taksin sections may be reduced.
Keeree said that BTS will be able to discount the maximum fare to lower than Bt100 per trip but serious discussions must be taken on the factors for the possibility and BTS's gains such as extension of concessions, amendment of agreements or price subsidies.