Dane ensure the safety in Bangkok’s new subway

Jørgen Thyge Falster is known in Denmark for his provocative statement that he doesn’t dare to take a ride with the Copenhagen Metro, because the safety systems are antiquated and look like something made in the 1970’s.

Since December last year he has worked in the German-owned consultant company DE-Consult ensuring the safety in Bangkok’s new subway.

“My job here is to participate in approving signals and interlocking so they match the highest standard. ATO – Automatic Train Operator – does all what a train driver normally would get the train to do – accelerate, lower the speed and stop at the stations. The driver isn’t really necessary. All he has to do is actually just to press a button, when the subway train is ready to start from a station,” says Jørgen Thyge Falster.

Jørgen Thyge Falster has worked in DSB (Danish State Railways) in 28 years until 1994 and has since had his own consultant company with jobs in Malaysia, Taiwan, Slovenia, Germany and Israel.

While the four-year old Skytrain is owned by Bangkok city, Thailand’s State owns Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA), which has built the tunnels etc. for the new subway. Bangkok Metro Company Ltd. (BMCL) is responsible for the trains and has a concession operating them the next 25 years. DE-Consult, in which Jørgen Thyge Falster is employed, works with the concession agreement between the two other companies and approving the system safety plan.

Bangkok’s new subway will open August the 12th – on the Queen’s birthday – but there will be a official test run much earlier; already April the 12th during Thailand’s Songkran festival.

The subway’s first route – the blue line – is 20 kilometres long connecting 18 stations and runs from Hua Lam Pong (Bangkok’s central railway station) in a circle through Silom (Sala Daeng Skytrain station), Sukhumvit (Asoke Skytrain station), Huay Kwang and Chatuchak Park (Mo Chit Skytrain station) to Bang Sue (railway station). Part of the accessible underground along the route is so narrow that the two tracks are dug above each other. The building of the subway started in 1998 and it is expected to get 40,000 passengers per hour per direction.

“The stations are built in granite and each station has got its own colour and symbol”, tells Jørgen Thyge Falster. He adds that another subway line – the orange line – is already planned.

The new subway trains will look very much like the ones at the Skytrain. Both are built by Siemens, and only a few details are changed. The first subway train was delivered under big attention by aeroplane during the Asia-Pacific Conference in October last year. The rest of the 19 trains have been transported by boat.

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