11 July 2024

Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul admitted today (Tuesday) that solving the Green Line train issue, which involves massive debt, concession contracts and legal disputes, is complicated and difficult and will take time to resolve.

This statement was made after Anutin met with Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt for a discussion on the BTS issue.

The Interior Ministry is involved because its agency, the Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRT), invested in the infrastructure of the two extensions of the Green Line train, or BTS. One extension is from Bearing station to Keha in Samut Prakan and the other is from Mor Chit to Khu Khot in Pathum Thani.

The military junta invoked Section 44 of the Executive Decree to order the MRT to transfer the two extensions to the supervision of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA). The contract to operate the two extensions was awarded to BTSC, the operator of the Green Line, by Krungthep Thanakom, a subsidiary of the BMA, without consent from the City Council. The contract forced BTSC to secure a huge loan to purchase train carriages for the two extensions.

Due to a legal technicality, however, the BMA has been unable to set the fares for the two extensions, because the locations are outside the jurisdiction of City Hall. Therefore, commuters are currently not being charged fares on the two extensions.

The BMA has incurred more than 100 billion baht in debt, with more than 40 billion owed to BTSC for the operating and maintenance costs and carriage procurement and 60 billion to the MRT for infrastructure investment.

The 20-baht train fare for all electric train lines, promised by the Pheu Thai party, will not be possible as long as the Green Line problem remains unresolved.

Anutin said that all parties involved must be given fair treatment and the way to solve this problem must be in accordance with the law and regulations.

He sighed deeply when asked whether the contract to operate the two extensions will be invalidated for not having the consent of the City Council.

“That is why I said it is difficult,” said Anutin, asking, if the contract is invalidated and BTSC stops operating the train, affecting tens of thousands of commuters “What shall we do?”