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Phuket to get 60km tram system

18 January 2016 - Amornrat Mihitthirook, Bangkok Post

A light rail system worth more than 2 billion baht will be constructed between Phuket International Airport and Chalong intersection to boost the country’s tourism in the South.

Speaking after a meeting on the Phuket mass transit system, transport permanent secretary Chartchai Thipsunawee Sunday unveiled details of a 60km rail tram which will be constructed between the airport to Chalong intersection in Muang district.

Mr Chartchai said the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) will be commissioned to supervise the project.

He said the tram with a speed of 100 km/h will have 23 stations along its route. Planners were deciding whether there will be a special lane for the tram or if it will share lanes with other vehicles.

The stations will include Phuket International Airport, Thalang and Koh Kaew and the second provincial bus terminal.

Mr Chartchai, however, voiced concern over what to do about level crossings, saying the tram route will pass 39 intersections and 37 U-turns in the province.

He told the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning, the Department of Highways and the Department of Rural Roads to devise solutions to the problem.

The agencies had to specify whether an overpass or tunnel will be built at each crossing or if traffic lights will be used if the tram and vehicles share the road. After this has been settled, work on the construction design will commence, he said.

For a crossing at the airport’s entrance, an overpass will be built to connect the tram with its station in the airport’s premises. A 150-metre skywalk connecting a station with a terminal will also be built, said Mr Chartchai.

“For the investment, the MRTA will study whether the private sector will be responsible for the entire investment or only as a joint venture,” he added.

Mr Chartchai also discussed the construction of a 150km railroad linking Surat Thani, Phangnga and Phuket provinces to boost tourism.