The Sky Train system in Bangkok was planned to be the answer to all the traffic problems of the city. I remember joining thousands of others on the first day that it opened on the King’s birthday in 1999. In theory it was a good idea, but in reality it didn’t work well as it wasn’t very extensive. For us in Samut Prakan, we had to drive 40 minutes to the nearest skytrain station and then quite often we would still have to take a bus or taxi to reach our final destination.
Since that time I have used the sky train a fair number of times, but only if I needed to go to the Siam Square area. For other places I just drove into Bangkok by car. Then in 2007 they started work on the extension of the sky train along Sukhumwit Road to the border of Samut Prakan. We even heard that it would quickly be extended to Samut Prakan City itself and then in phrase 3 beyond the city to Ancient Siam and Bang Pu Seaside Resort. But the years dragged by slowly.
The 5.3 kilometer extension of the skytrain goes from Soi On Nut to Soi Bearing. It stops exactly at the border between Bangkok and Samut Prakan. In all there are five new stations along this stretch of Sukhumwit Road [see MAP]. These are Bang Chak (E10), Punnawithi (E11), Udomsuk (E12), Bang Na (E13) and Bearing (E14). From ground level, everything looked like it has been finished for the last couple of years. But supply and technical problems caused a delay.
But finally we are approaching the time when we can start using this new stretch of the sky train. The official opening date of the Sukhumwit Line extension is on 12th August 2011 which is also the Queen’s Birthday. It has been decided that the stations between BTS On Nut and BTS Bearing will be free from the opening day until 1st January 2012. The new extension of the sky train is mainly for the people living in the suburbs who want to go into the city. But Bangkokians will also be able to use it to go to the exhibition hall at BITEC.
This morning, M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra, the Governor of Bangkok, invited the media to inspect the readiness of the Sukhumwit line. We got on the train at BTS Bearing and slowly made our way to BTS Bang Chak where we were given a video presentation. We stopped briefly at BTS Bang Na where we were shown the skywalk that will take people to BITEC. Also at this junction we were shown where the planned LRT will connect the Sukhumwit Line with Suvarnabhumi Airport. No dates yet on when that will start. At the completion of the event, I was lucky enough to be able to ride back to BTS Bearing in the cab of the sky train.