The BTS Sky Train system in Bangkok has been open for nearly ten years now. A few weeks back we saw a new extension being opened that takes the line over the Chao Phraya River for the first time and into Thonburi. For the next three months, you can ride on this new section for free. However, it only has two stations so far. I took a ride on it the day after it opened and you can see my pictures on the ThailandQA Forums. Really this should have been opened a long time ago but political bickering has delayed it many times. The same goes for the extension down to Samut Prakan. At the moment, our nearest BTS Station is at On Nut which takes us on the Green Line into Bangkok. It takes about 40 minutes to drive there from Paknam.
For the past three years they have been building the first extension of the Light Green Line which goes from On Nut to Soi Bearing. This brings the Sky Train a further 5.25 kms towards Paknam. This is due to open in June 2010. Most of it seems to be complete and they only have the five stations to build. Soi Bearing marks the border between Bangkok and Samut Prakan. Really they should have continued into our province but they couldn’t agree on who should pay for it and where the money would come from. I think it was about four years ago when I excitedly posted a blog here about the plans of the extension of the sky train down to Paknam. The reason that I was excited was because it was due to pass my house with the nearest station being only a ten minute walk away. We were told that everything had been finalized and that it would be finished within five years. Of course, that turned out to be a fairy tale.
So, it was with great delight yesterday that I received an invite to a press conference to mark the opening of an exhibition about the extension through Samut Prakan and all the way as far as Tesco Lotus in Bang Pu. In the picture above, Mr. Kamthorn Thavornsathit, the Deputy Governor of Samut Prakan Province, is seen speaking to members of the local press. We were told that there would be two stages of the Light Green route through Samut Prakan. Stage one will go from Soi Bearing (E14) to Samut Prakan (E23). This stretch is 12.6 kms long and will have nine stations. It passes the giant three-headed elephant at The Erawan Museum, the Navy Museum, the City Hall, my house, Big C Samut Prakan and finishes at the top of the soi for the Crocodile Farm. We were told this would be finished within five years though I won’t hold my breath.
The second stage then goes for another 9.1 kms and will have a further five stations. People coming from Bangkok will be able to use this line to see some more tourist attractions in our province. There will be a station near Ancient Siam (formerly known as Ancient City) and even one as far as Bang Pu Seaside Resort where you can enjoy the sea breeze and sunset over the Gulf of Thailand. This will obviously make a big difference for people living in this area. It will certainly cut down on the number of cars going into Bangkok. For sure I will use the sky train a lot. I have seen the mass transit map for Bangkok and if they can get all of this built then it will certainly make a big difference. I see that they even have an underground route from the BTS National Stadium station which will pass Sanam Luang just north of the Grand Palace.