Commuters at MRT Tao Pun station on Aug 27. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)
Bangkok’s subway operator has been allowed to invest in and run two light rail projects in Chiang Mai, Phangnga and Phuket worth a combined 52 billion baht.
The projects are public-private partnerships and details of the investments have not been finalised.
The cabinet approved a draft royal decree on Tuesday allowing the Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA) to operate the projects in the three provinces as proposed by the Transport Ministry.
Current legislation allows MRTA to operate only in Bangkok and nearby provinces.
The decree enables it to run in the provinces in support of rail investment in other parts of the country.
Earlier, the Transport and Traffic Policy Plan Office found investments in light rail transit or tramway on the two routes viable.
The first, intended for tourists, links Surat Thani with Phangnga and Phuket. It starts from Tha Noon railway station in Phangnga, goes past Phuket airport and ends at Chalong junction in Phuket. In the next phase, the route will reach Surat Thani.
The project was approved and put in the PPP fast-track plan in June. The plan involves kicking off public and private partnership projects one year earlier than originally planned.
Up North, a light rail will be built in Muang district of Chiang Mai. The line links Chiang Mai airport with Muang district’s mass transit and alleviates traffic congestion downtown.
It was put in the PPP fast-track plan in October last year.