Sky Train BTS Airport Link

I've lived in this location for almost five years.  In that time I've watched the landscape below turn from no sign of the new BTS Airport link, to a loosely defined area as they cleared each side of the existing railroad tracks, to cement and concrete piers, to a defined track, and finally the finished track and skytrain station.  The heavy lifting has been completed for over a year, so what's holding up activating the link?


BTS SKytrain sation under construction

Canon G9 point and shoot


Four years ago the cement and concrete piers started to form.  The original image is of very high resolution and zooming in the original you can see the shanty town of small metal shacks the immigrant workers and their families lived in.  This spawned an entire community within an existing community and was very interesting to observe.  We had the food venders, shack cleaners, babysitters, loan sharks, and even prostitutes. 


Skytrain BTS support pillars, Bangkok

Fuji F30 point and shoot


From 20 stories up the scene looks like a model railroad set under construction so I'd often walk down and through the shanty down and take a look at the construction close up.  The piers rise up in the sky approximately 30-40 meters and dwarf the structures beneath them.  You don't realize how big the piers are even from this close, or that if they were hollow you could park several cars side by side.


A shanty town for the immigrant workers building the new airport BTS link

Fuji F30 point and shoot


Eventually they started building permanent quarters for the Thai workers who would live there when they finally opened.  It was more than a bit ironic that the immigrant workers living in cardboard and steel shacks were constructing only marginal better quarters for those who would come after them.  Temporary power poles, cement foundations, wood shacks, metal shelters, and dozens of cooking fires blended together in a sort or warped order.


Long view of the BTS Skytrain station

Canon G9 point and shoot


Soon the landscape showed a steel and cement track 'growing' out of the downtown area, only ending at the site of the new BTS station which was taking considerably more time.  Everyday immigrant workers from the shanty town were loaded in trucks or rail cars and transported to the desired construction site to continue the scheduled progress.


Completed BTS Skytrain station ready to go live.  Bangkok Thailand

Canon 1ds Mark II, 25mm, F5.6 1/60th, ISO 100, handheld


And one day nearly five years later you peer off the balcony and a shiny new BTS station with neat orderly rows of employee housing and marked parking spaces surprises you.  All of a sudden there is more definition, more color, as this important link from the city center to the airport takes its final shape.

A few weeks later mostly empty sky trains glide up and down the track almost silently save for their two tone horns designed to catch your attention, yet not disturb.  We've been told the link will open last year, then early this year, then on the Queen's Birthday, and then the King's birthday.  Finally we hear it won't open until next Spring.  Why?

We've heard all sorts of stories ranging from funding issues to a soon to retire employee being afraid to make the decision to purchase signaling gear.  The real truth is the powers in charge have been fighting over who will run and operate the link.  This is a political power play of the highest order and the winner will realize riches far beyond reason.  Finally we have word.  For the first six months of operation Thai's won't be running it at all, the foreign company who built it will.  During which they'll train the Thai staff who will eventually take over as the new rail links care takers for decades to come.

This vital new link from the city center to the international airport didn't take so long to construct because the Thai government was incapable of meeting a strict time line.  It took this long because they were fighting over who would have control, and the rewards that control will bring.


Until next time..