Rail chief slams NCPO van scheme

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) governor has voiced opposition to the National Council for Peace and Order's (NCPO) plan to develop the Makkasan Airport Rail Link station into a new passenger van hub.

Prapas Chongsanguan yesterday met the NCPO representatives in charge of regulating the passenger vans operating at the Victory Monument roundabout.

Mr Prapas said he was asked to provide part of the area of land below the Makkasan Airport Rail Link station to become a new passenger van hub for queues from the Victory Monument.

"I told them [the NCPO representatives] the SRT wants to develop the area under the Makkasan station for commercial purposes. If the SRT gives it to the NCPO, we would find it difficult to develop it and who would dare to rent it?" he said.

Mr Prapas said he disagreed with the NCPO's plan as it was simply shifting the passenger van problem from the Victory Monument roundabout to the Makkasan area.

However, residents living near the Makkasan Airport Rail Link station are optimistic of the economic benefits that will come from the military’s plan to develop the area into a new passenger van hub, even as concerns linger over whether the area can handle the additional traffic burden.

Jakalerk Rinthong, a motorcycle taxi driver, said he welcomes the plan as it will help to improve his bottom line. "It’s amazing for us that the vans will now park here," he said.

"The place will be filled with passengers for motorcycle taxis.

“When passengers arrive from other provinces and want to go somewhere around Bangkok, they will come to us. Life is going to be good,” he said.

The junta has decided to ban all passenger vans from parking on roads around the Victory Monument in an attempt to tackle traffic congestion in the area.

They have chosen Makkasan station as the city's new passenger van hub.

The new system will begin a trial run next Monday, and will take full effect on July 1.

Mr Jakalerk brushed aside concerns over the potential for increased traffic around the already-congested Makkasan area, insisting it could handle the influx of passenger vans.

“There are many exits at Makkasan station. The main exit towards Asoke Montri Road might be more jammed, but there are back exits towards Vipawadee Road,” he said, adding, that “a new road nearby is set to open soon, and that will also help to relieve the traffic".

Local resident Kumpong Siapai was also enthusiastic about the junta’s plan, saying an influx of people to the area could help fuel future developments.

“Right now the area is pretty dull, with very limited developments. Buildings are old and run down,” Mr Kumpong said.

“I hope that when the area turns into a popular hub, there will be more development, maybe a brand new shopping mall or something.”

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