Feature: Made-in-China monorail makes life more convenient in Bangkok
BANGKOK, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- "When I first tried the monorail, I could feel the difference with its smoothness and quietness," Surasak Vaipanya told Xinhua while awaiting the newly operational train here.
"Traveling by monorail becomes particularly convenient during severe traffic congestion, especially in the current rainy season," the 43-year-old commuter added.
Manufactured by China's CRRC Puzhen Alstom Transportation Systems Limited and operated by Thai agencies, the inaugural monorail "Yellow Line" commenced commercial operations in July, spanning 30.4 km to connect the north and the south parts of eastern Bangkok while intersecting with several intra-city rail lines.
Thailand's pioneering monorail projects marked one of the biggest cooperation projects between the two countries, said Kavin Kanjanapas, executive director of Eastern Bangkok Monorail Company Limited (EBM), adding that he has been operating trains made by China for nearly 15 years.
"They came to teach us how to operate the train and help set up the training center as we purchased the entirely new system," Kanjanapas said.
A straddle-type monorail can greatly alleviate traffic congestion as its elevated structure occupies less space, said Xu Haida, chairman of CRRC Puzhen Alstom Transportation Systems Limited.
"Monorail construction is quicker and costs about one-third of traditional subways. It also consumes less energy, leading to notably reduced daily electricity usage," Xu added.
Since its commercial launch, the fully automated and driverless monorail system has been fine-tuned to better cope with Bangkok's tropical weather and scorching heat.
"We plan to introduce an automatic adjustment system that controls the temperature and humidity, enhancing passenger comfort," he said, adding that the improvement will also benefit the Pink Line, another monorail supplied by the Chinese company.
For train enthusiast Wanwit Niampan, as the city expands, monorails will serve as the backbone of more integrated infrastructure in the future.
"Seamless connectivity with other types of transport and a unified ticketing system will help attract more passengers once the public transport is easily accessible and convenient to use," he said.
Infrastructure development, including the monorail projects, could promote urbanization, giving rise to new business opportunities in the areas surrounding the rail routes, Kevalin Wangpichayasuk, assistant managing director of Kasikorn Research Center said.
"Thailand should try to be part of Chinese advanced technology supply chains, as well as attract more Chinese foreign direct investment inflows and technology to enhance business efficiency and the country's overall competitiveness," Wangpichayasuk added.