The government on Thursday reaffirmed its commitment to expand the 20-baht flat fare policy to all electric train routes across the capital, following the launch of a pilot programme along the Purple and Red lines last week.
“In the future, we hope to expand the scheme to include other lines, including the currently under-construction Orange Line,” said Deputy Transport Minister Surapong Piyachote on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the governor of the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand, Pakapong Sirikantaramas, said the flat fare policy is likely to cause delays in the construction of new electric train routes, as private companies are likely to have to wait longer before recouping their investment in a new line.
There will have to be further negotiations on fare structure, as well as compensation for train operators who would be affected by the flat fare policy, he said.
Lines which are or will be operating under a public-private partnership model include the Blue, Yellow, Pink, Orange and Brown lines.
The fate of the Orange Line depends on a ruling by the Supreme Administrative Court on a dispute between the MRTA and Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc (BEM) about the joint investment.
All other issues in the project, including allegations of collusion in the bidding for the project, have not been formally put to the ministry for investigation, according to Mr Surapong.
Mr Pakapong said he expected the Orange Line dispute to be settled in six months before a round of negotiations on the plan to expand the flat fare policy opens.
Once the matter is out of the way, the contract to operate services along the Orange Line could then be inked, he said.
Meanwhile, the commercial launch of the 34.5-kilometre Pink Line is now scheduled to take place on Dec 18, with a free trial period planned for next month, said Mr Pakapong.
As for the 41.72-billion-baht Brown Line, which would span 22.2-kilometres between Khae Rai and Lam Sali, the project’s proposal was recently returned by the ministry to the MRTA.
The ministry urged the MRTA to review its fare structure proposal to make it compatible with the flat fare policy, he said, noting the review will take about two months.
The cabinet is expected to approve the project early next year, with bidding to launch by the middle of next year. Construction would begin in the middle of 2025, with the hope of launching commercial services by June 2028, he said.