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Driverless BTS Gold Line Shall Open on Wednesday

Thailand’s first driverless mass transit line is set to open and start running on Wednesday, while another line linking Greater Bangkok will be fully operational the same day.

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said on Saturday that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha would preside over the launch of the BMA Gold Line and the opening of the last leg of the Green Line.

The Gold Line connects to the Dark Green or BTS Silom Line at Krung Thon Buri station. It departs from that point to Khlong San station.

This is the first automated guideway transit or automated people mover line in the country.

On Wednesday, authorities will inaugurate its first 8 km phase that will consist of three stations: Krung Thonburi, Charoen Nakhon, and Khlong San. They project ridership at 42,000 trips per day, and the easier access to the Iconsiam Mall is expected to be a major draw.

Mr. Anucha said that the line connects to all modes of land transportation, including on-wheels, rail, and ferry on the Chao Phraya River.

The line will run 1 km along Somdet Chao Phraya for the second phase and connect with the MRT Purple Line’s future southern extension, scheduled to open in 2023.

When completed, it will connect Krung Thonburi BTS station with Prajadhipok Road in Thon Buri district, reaching a total length of 2.68 km.

This line employs Chinese-made Bombardier Innovia APM 300 automated people-movers. These models are commonly used to transport passengers between terminals at airports and support speeds of up to 80 km/hour.

This line was not part of the mass public transport plans of Thailand.

In 2015, the owners of Iconsiam proposed to provide a feeder service to the new shopping center. Subsequently, in September 2016, the cabinet approved the project.

The project’s cost was 3.8 billion baht, under full financing from Siam Piwat Co Ltd, the owner of Iconsiam. It will collect all advertising revenue and operating profits during the 30-year concession period.

The line’s design and development were under the custody of Krungthep Thanakom, a company created to conduct commercial business for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

In addition to the Gold Line opening on Wednesday, authorities announced that the last section of the Green Line would also be operational. This completes a commuter network linking three provinces: Bangkok, Pathum Thani, and Samut Prakan.

This last section of the Green Line stretches 68 kilometers and consists of seven stations.

After this event, the Green Line will have 59 stations that will serve approximately 1.5 million trips per day.

It is expected to have 14 mass transport lines in the capital, totaling 553.4 km. Nine of them are operational, and Mr. Anucha assured that new sections would be opened every year starting next year.