Connect with us

Business

From planes to trains and back to automobiles

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published

 on 

PHUKET: Over the past few weeks, political debates in Thailand have often been centered on the government’s national high-speed railway project. Punches, counter punches and even the kitchen sink have been thrown into the arena. Who the heck needs to run with the bulls when you can get gored by an out-of-control locomotive?

During the same period, I was able to sit through a presentation by the Thai Transport Ministry and in clear terms, a very literate gentlemen explained the plan. First of all, we were off to a flying start because there actually was a plan. At least there is a power point presentation and handouts were promised. In a nutshell, the massive 2.2 trillion baht infrastructure project is meant to connect up all the loose ends of the Kingdom and usher in the modern age.

According to the spokesman, the Thai planning method early-on had followed an American type scheme, which was later abandoned for a UK model. Yes, in case you skipped over this paragraph, this was not lowly millions or billions, but the trifecta of supersizing – trillions. My mind has stalled for a moment with all of these zeros.

Back from the brain freeze, the entire through process of returning from planes to trains is that Bangkok has reached the boiling point and the process of decentralizing the clash of the titans in the City of Angels is an absolute must. Hence, while the rest of the world is largely urbanizing, Thailand is deemed to be better – it’s de-urbanizing. And if two ends must meet, leave the cars at home as the vehicle of choice is going to be a train.

I did question the thought process here, as without a doubt, every other Asian nation is seeing their gateway urban areas continue to multiply faster than sheep. Was it logical to assume that corporate offices would now relocate from Bangkok’s Sathorn district to sunny Roi Et, or lets say the booming metropolis of Phitsanulok? There was no clear retort.

What caused me further confusion is the current government’s new car initiative for first time buyers, – didn’t this run contrary to the edict of get on the train? Or else… Of course it did, but Thai politics are not unlike those everywhere in the world, a deeply confusing web of incomprehensible wheeling and dealing.

Call in the Ministry of Silly Works? Seems they have gone home for the day. I’ve had a look at the numbers and while Bangkok has more than 8 million residents, in China this would not even make any list – it’s a very small market. Go beyond Bangkok to smaller areas that rely on manufacturing, tourism or agriculture; this is the land of Isuzu pick-up trucks.

Are these people going to be crossing the country on high speed trains on a whim? Probably not. Wisely though, the transportation representative threw tourism into the pot, citing Europe as an example of visitors zooming from Venice to Bruge at the drop of a hat. Yet, what would become of the charter flights and low-cost airlines?

Was this meant to supplement them or else compete and simply divide rather then conquer? Frankly speaking, the power point presentation was damned impressive but the one underlying question remained – who was going to pay for this? Of course the answer was that the country would take on massive levels of debt. This remains the contentious cage fighting scenario being played out between the ruling Pheu Thai party and the opposition Democrats. There is little doubt what a vision of the future Bangkok’s skytrain has been.

Yet I struggle on poorly executed projects like the Makkasan in-town check in at the airport express. This is failure at its worst. How would Phuket fare in the world of bullet trains between the island and Surat Thani? Can there really be enough traffic to make any economic sense? I’m taking the easy route and throwing that one back at readers. As for me, I can see urban transit, but give me a choice between a plane or a train and I’m on the plane every time… unless it’s AirAsia, but let’s not even start on that one.

Bill Barnett is the Managing Director of C9 Hotelworks and can be contacted through C9hotelworks.com

— Bill Barnett

 

Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

News27 mins ago

Grenade attack kills ranger in Pattani

Pattaya32 mins ago

Reopening Pattaya: Will it happen next week or not?

Thailand1 hour ago

5 police kiosks set on fire in Bangkok, no injuries reported

Sponsored21 hours ago

HOMA is now offering fully-serviced, affordable lifestyle apartments in Phuket Town.

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Pattaya2 hours ago

Pattaya restaurant busted selling alcohol, 15 arrested

Thailand2 hours ago

Decision on Hua Hin Hospital “dual pricing” case set for next week

Thailand2 hours ago

Morning Top Stories | CCSA says Nov 1 Re-opening possible, Joe Ferrari update | September 23

image
Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand2 hours ago

Good Morning Thailand | Is E-sports a real sport? Covid Visas, Joe Ferrari | Ep. 95

Guides2 hours ago

Best VPN services to use in Thailand

Thailand2 hours ago

Lawyer and shaman duo demand police investigate Kanchanaburi temple rehab that allegedly tortured patients

360 Reviews2 hours ago

Top 8 bottled water in Thailand

Phuket3 hours ago

Phuket Covid-19: 1 new death, hospital occupancy rates fell

Guides3 hours ago

The best caves in Thailand to explore

Best of3 hours ago

5 must-try drinks when you visit Thailand

Thailand3 hours ago

Police seize assets believed to be acquired through drug trade, assets valued at nearly 59 million baht

Coronavirus Vaccines3 hours ago

Thailand to receive 120,000 doses of AstraZeneca from Singapore on Saturday

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14 | Thaiger
Thailand1 week ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism7 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending