The urban rail transit system of Bangkok is going through its biggest expansion since the BTS opened in 1999. Two commuter rail lines opened this year, two monorail lines are scheduled to open next year, and another new MRT line in 2023.
This is an annual summary of lines under construction, news for established lines, and planned lines that are making progress.
Bangkok Transit Maps
There are already some good maps showing what the future Bangkok transit system will look like, so I won’t make a map here. This map covers current and proposed railways that are mentioned in this post.
[Click for full size.]
For station locations, the best map is the future map by BKK Greg.
BTS Sukhumvit Line
There is no news on extensions to report this year, though there are still plans to extend the line in the future. The main news has been about ticket prices. There has been a proposal to charge fares on Green Line extension, on top of what is already an expensive line to ride for the average Thai worker.
The BTS also scrapped the 30-day trip packages, making it more expensive for regular commuters.
In mobility access news, I’ve noticed several stations are in the process of adding lifts to the stations.
[Lift being installed at Phra Khanong.]
[Lift being installed at Phrom Phong.]
BTS Silom Line
While there were no extensions on the Silom, a gap was filled at the BTS “ghost station” at Saint Louis.
When I visited Saint Louis they were building a convenience store inside the paid ticketed area. Most retail shops are outside the ticketed area.
MRT Purple Line
The Purple Line is set to be extended by 23 kilometres, and in November the MRTA was preparing to invite companies to submit a tender for the extension.
SRT Red Lines
SRT Light Red Line (Taling Chan-Bang Sue) and SRT Dark Red Line (Rangsit-Bang Sue) began trial operations on 2 August 2021, and full service began in November.
[SRT Light Red Line at Bang Son.]
Both lines will be extended at each end, though work has not begun on those lines yet.
[SRT Dark Red Line to Rangsit.]
[SRT Dark Red Line at Lak Si.]
There are three new lines under construction, and two of those lines are expected to partially open in 2022. If all goes to plan, my 2022 report will include photos of the new lines.
In anticipation of the opening of the new lines, an updated system map can be seen at MRT stations.
Stickers have been placed over the new lines, waiting for the day to be peeled off. Whoever has the job of peeling the stickers off is going to have the best job of the day, and I hope they upload a video of the unpeeling to oddly satisfying.
This one was already peeling, revealing the Pink Line underneath.
The MRT Orange Line is being built in two stages, with the 22.5km Eastern section from Suwinthawong to Thailand Cultural Centre currently under construction. The Eastern section is 88.46% completed as of the end of November 2021. There is a website dedicated to the Orange Line construction which shows this precise percentage update.
The Eastern section will interchange with the Yellow and Pink monorail lines (both under construction), and with the current Thailand Cultural Centre Station on the MRT Blue Line. Some parts of the Thailand Cultural Centre Station have been boarded up where the interchange will be built.
[Orange Line work inside Thailand Cultural Centre MRT.]
There is a worksite next to the Thailand Cultural Centre MRT for the Orange Line.
[Orange Line worksite at Thailand Cultural Centre MRT.]
[Orange Line work site at Ratchadaphisek Road.]
It might be years before this is built, but that hasn’t discouraged developers from showing their apartment projects next to the future line.
[Park Origin Ratchathewi showing the Orange Line at Ratchathewi.]
MRT Yellow Line
[Yellow Line Map via mrta-yellowline.com.]
The MRT Yellow Line is an elevated monorail that will travel across the northeastern and eastern areas of Bangkok. The 30.4 km line will have 23 stations and connect with 6 other lines. Test runs began on a completed section in November 2021, and the line is set to open in mid-2022 (as estimated in December 2021).
[Yellow Line – Lat Phrao Rd.]
There is a dedicated website for the project, but unlike the Orange Line with its regular updates, the last monthly progress report was in March 2019.
[Yellow Line – Srinagarindra.]
The Yellow line passes by the Airline Rail Link at Hua Mak, and it is being advertised as an interchange.
[Yellow Line dipping under the Airport Rail Link at Hua Mak.]
Phatthanakan Station is the station near Hua Mak ARL, but it is far from the station and there doesn’t appear to be an enclosed interchange between the two lines.
[Yellow Line – Phatthanakan Station.]
The same interchange problem will happen at Samrong, where it ends at the Samrong BTS on the Sukhumvit Line.
[Samrong – Yellow Line.]
The MRT Pink Line is an elevated monorail that will provide east-west transport across the north of Bangkok and Nonthaburi Province. A section of the line is expected to open in June 2022.
There is also a dedicated website for the line at https://www.mrta-pinkline.com, but my antivirus software is blocking access to the site. The MRTA also has a Pink Line project page, which is a more typical Thai government website with tiny images and infrequent updates.
[Pink Line construction at Nonthaburi Civic Center.]
[Pink Line near Nonthaburi Civic Center.]
I visited Nonthaburi Civic Center MRT Purple Line Station, where the Pink Line starts. There doesn’t appear to be a step-free interchange within the ticketed area. I will write a separate post about the ticketing and interchange problems of the Bangkok urban rail transit system.
[View of Pink Line from Nonthaburi Civic Center MRT Purple Line Station.]
I visited Lak Si Station on the Dark Red Commuter Line. There is a walkway from the commuter line to the future Pink Line, but (surprise!) there is no step-free interchange between the two stations.
[Lak Si Station – Pink Line.]
Here you can see the Pink Line going under the elevated Commuter Line, and above the old State Railway Line.
High-Speed Rail Linking Three Airports Project
[Airport Rail Link at Phayathai will be extended to Don Muang from here.]
The Don Mueang–Suvarnabhumi–U-Tapao high-speed railway is being prepared for construction, with land clearance underway. The most recent government announcement said that the line will be ready in 4 years (2025).
[The empty Makkasan Station will benefit from the 3-airport railway project.]
There are numerous proposed lines in the system, some of which may not be started for years to come. This list covers proposed lines that made the news in the last year.
The Grey Line Monorail has been off and on proposed for years, and in November 2021 it was reported that a feasibility study would be completed by March 2022. Read more about the Grey Line Monorail.
Bang Sue Grand Station
Bang Sue Grand Station is the new central station of Bangkok, which is set to replace Hua Lamphong Station. In addition to serving domestic and international railways, will also be an urban rail hub. The Red Lines depart from here, and there is a stop on the Blue Line MRT. The station will also be a stop on the 3-airport high-speed railway.
The station opened in 2021, not with a bang (sorry) but a whimper. The red lines began operations here, but the long-distance trains haven’t begun services as planned. That is probably a good thing anyway to get the station started gradually rather than trying to get it all operating at the same time.
I visited Bang Sue a few times to have a look around and ride the Red Line railways.
[Bang Sue Commuter Railway platforms.]
The station has been doubling as a mass-vaccination centre, so it is making the most of this massive space before it is fully operational.
I was going to do a review of the station, but I will wait until the services from Hua Lamphonog move here. There are still no shops here either, adding to the feeling that it is not fully open yet. It is strange that in a land with a 7-Eleven on practically every corner that there was no 7-Eleven here (unless I missed the corner where it was hiding). At least this vending machine operator will be happy for a while.
Another year has gone by and there is still no unified ticketing system for Bangkok. The Mangmoom Card is supposed to be the card that can be used on all lines, but it is still delayed.
The Bangkok Post published an editorial on the issue of a universal ticketing system, and I will publish separate article on this issue.