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Skytrain Expanding Its Transit Web In Bangkok

Bangkok’s rapidly expanding Skytrain will add another 464 km of transit routes in the future. A total of 28 construction projects are either in the planning stages, under construction, or have just been completed. The new routes will extend Skytrain’s coverage from central Bangkok to surrounding provinces, as well as link Bangkok’s airports.

Three Skytrain projects are already open for service, including the airport link Skytrain from Phayathai to Suvarnabhumi airport. The other two completed projects are the BTS Skytrain, and the underground Skytrain from Bangseu to Hualamphong. The three expanded routes total 79.5 km.

Currently 5 Skytrain projects are under construction, totaling 83 km. They include the red route Skytrain from Bangseu to Talingshan, which will open within this year; and the blue route Skytrain, from Hualamphong to Bangkae. There is another Skytrain project up for price auction, the dark red route Skytrain from Bangseu to Rangsit, totaling 26 km.

Additionally, there are plans for four more Skytrain projects this year. The Ministry of Transport and Communications plan to open 4 more Skytrain projects for price auction, totalling 54.2 km.
These planned projects include the airport link Skytrain from Don Muang airport to Suvannabhumi airport; and the green route Sky train from Morchit to Saphanmai.

In the next year, there will be 6 more Skytrain projects, totalling more than 100 km, including the pink route from Kaerai to Minburi; the light red route from Banseu to Makkasan; and the orange route from Cultural Center to Minburi.

In the year 2014, there will be 4 more Skytrain projects set up for the price auction totalling 62.7 km, including the violet route from Bangseu to Ratburana; and the orange route from Jaransanitwong to the Cultural Center.

Beyond 2014, Bangkok officials are planning 5 more Skytrain projects, totalling 53.6 km, to include the red route Skytrain from Hualamphong to Bangbon and from Bangkae to Putthamonthon.
If all goes according to plan, Skytrain will have an additional 464 km of transit routes.
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Sukhumvit BTS line to get four-car trains in October

The first four-car train is scheduled to enter service in early October, and all 35 will be delivered by next July. The new cars will increase passenger handling capacity by more than 30,000 people an hour. THITI WANNAMONTHA

The company received the first batch of 35 trailer cars manufactured by Germany’s Siemens AG yesterday.

The trailer cars cost 2.1 billion baht and will lengthen the existing trains from three cars to four on the Sukhumvit line to accommodate more passengers during peak hours.

The first four-car train is scheduled to be in service in early October, and all 35 cars will be delivered by July 2013. The new cars increase passenger handling capacity by over 30,000 passengers per hour.

BTSC also purchased five Chinese-made four-car trains to serve higher volume on the Silom Line when the Wong Wian Yai-Bang Wa extension is in operation.

The 5.3-kilometre extension will open the first two stations at the end of this year and the other two by mid-2013, said chairman and chief executive Keeree Kanjanapas.

After completion, the BTS skytrain will run a total of 36.25 km, consisting of 34 stations and a fleet of 52 four-car trains totalling 208 cars.

At present, BTS services 600,000 passengers on average per day, with the number peaking at 715,000 in March.

Ridership is expected to hit 650,000 next year when the Wong Wian Yai-Bang Wa section is operational.

In the first quarter of this fiscal year starting in April, ridership rose 15% from a year earlier, but revenue surged 20%. The company targets ridership increasing 12-15% over last year.

"We are aiming for another 15% growth next year for both ridership and revenue," said Mr Keeree.

Chief operating officer Surapong Laoha-unya said the company is considering a fare increase next year, which was agreed upon in the concession with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA).

The 5.25-km On Nut-Bearing extension opened earlier this year added 120,000 to 130,000 passengers daily to the Sukhumvit line, exceeding the BMA’s estimates of 100,000. The new extension to Bang Wa is expected to draw up to 80,000 passengers a day, said Mr Surapong.


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Townhouses, single houses lag behind condos

As most developers shifted to condominiums and projects in resort destinations, the number of new single-house and townhouse launches in Greater Bangkok during the first half was only about one-third of condominiums. condominiums in the area.

The small number of new single houses and townhouses, collectively defined as low-rise units, was mainly due to slow recovery in the segment after the floods last year, said Samma Kitsin, director-general of Real Estate Information Center (REIC).

"The condo numbers were also inflated by units that had been scheduled to launch in last year’s final four months but were delayed," he said.

"Some were from low-rise developers that shifted to the condominium segment such as NC Housing and more recently Sammakorn, after the low-rise segment failed to pick up after the massive flooding."

REIC data peg the number of condominium units newly launched in Greater Bangkok in the first half of this year at 36,400 and that of low-rise units at only about 12,500.

Listed developers launched 75% of the condo units but only 60% of the low-rise numbers, indicating that large developers have shifted more towards condos, said Mr Samma.

He expects the number of new condo and low-rise units in the second half will total 20,000 each.

Most of the low-rise units will enter the market in the fourth quarter, after the rainy season ends and just before the Bank of Thailand’s loan-to-value ratio for low-rises, delayed a year until next Jan 1, takes effect.

Buyers of low-rise units priced at less than 10 million baht applying for a mortgage can receive a maximum of 95% of the home’s value.

Earlier, there were no credit limitations for this price range.

Buyers of units priced at more than 10 million baht must make a down payment of 30%.

"If there are no more floods this year, then the low-rise market may recover. But if flooding happens again, the segment will become mired in a lengthy sluggish period," said Mr Samma.

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Siam Piwat spearheads B35bn Chao Phraya project

Siam Piwat Co, the 50-year-old operator of Siam Center, is joining with Charoen Pokphand Group and Magnolia Quality Development Corporation (MQDC) to develop a megaproject worth 35 billion baht on the Chao Phraya River opposite Mandarin Oriental Bangkok Hotel.

Tipaporn Chearavanont (left), CEO of Magnolia Quality Development Corp, shakes hands with Chadatip Chutrakul, CEO of Siam Piwat, for the start of three joint ventures they plan on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya, calling it ‘the largest local private commercial development’.

The investment will be spread over three joint ventures, comprising Grand River Place Corp, Grand River Park Corp and Grand River Front Corp.

Siam Piwat Holdings, wholly-owned by Siam Piwat, holds a 50% stake in the three ventures and MQDC and CP Group share 25% each.

MQDC is owned by Tipaporn Chearavanont, the youngest daughter of Dhanin Chearavanont, who is CP Group chairman.

Chadatip Chutrakul, CEO of Siam Piwat, said details of the mix-used project are not finalised but the plan is for a retail plaza and residential condos.

The project’s construction on a 40-rai plot on Charoen Nakorn Road between the Millennium Hilton and The Peninsula Hotel is expected to start early next year and finish in 2015.

Siam Piwat will conduct a market survey with 5,000 people _ both Thais and foreigners who work and stay in a 20-kilometre radius from Charoen Nakorn _ about their expectations for the project. Survey results will be used to create the project concept and design.

The final design will be completed near year-end, after which booking for retail space will be opened.

Funding will come from loans and the joint ventures’ cash flow.

"It’s the largest commercial development ever undertaken by the private sector. When it’s completed, the project will be a new landmark for Bangkok," said Mrs Chadatip.

"We want to create a physical and emotional landmark, something that can really enhance Bangkok’s status in the region and the world. An iconic landmark on the river can move the city forward like Paris, London and Shanghai," said Ms Tipaporn, CEO of MQDC.

The project aims to increase tourism and business, and should create 350,000 jobs over the next four years, she said


NC Housing plans to enter condo market

20% growth targeted after restructuring

The listed developer NC Housing Plc (NCH) targets an annual growth in a range of 20% to 25% and plans to enter the condominium market this year after restructuring its finances by decreasing short-term loans.

Managing director Somchao Tanterdtham said the company recorded higher sales last year which increased its financial liquidity. Debt-to-equity ratio continued dropping to 0.58 time as at the end of 2011 from one time two years ago.

"Our financial status is strong enough to develop condominium project," he said. "It will be a learning curve for us in the high-rise segment. When the condominium market booms, we will be ready for it."

Its condominium projects will be valued at 200-500 million baht each, with unit prices of 1-2 million baht.

This year, the condominium investment will be only 10-20% of the total.

In face of rising wages, the company will apply prefabrication construction technology on a larger scale. It will apply the technology to duplex houses at two new projects worth a combined 800 million baht this year, or 10% of all units. Last year, the technology was applied to 10 units.

The move will help speed up construction and revenue booking.

Also in 2012, NCH plans to launch six new projects worth 3.47 billion baht in total. They will comprise four low-rise housing projects and two condominium projects. Around 100-200 million baht will be used to buy new plots of land. Last year, it spent 200 million baht in buying two plots for launches this year.

During the first two months of 2011, NCH had 300 million baht in sales, indicating a recovery since the great floods late last year. “Though many homebuyers still lack confidence and the property market is expected to get sluggish this year, we believe to achieve our annual sales target based on the two-month performance,” he said.

NCH targets 2.7 billion baht in sales this year, up from 2.54 billion baht in 2011. Revenue was projected at 1.7 billion baht from 1.48 billion baht last year, up from 1.19 billion baht in 2010. It had sales backlog of 2.7 billion baht with around 500 million baht realised this year.

The 18-year-old developer yesterday launched a new logo in a 10-million-baht rebranding. The logo’s colours were changed from green and orange to green, grey and black.

"The new logo represents the new segment we plan to tap this year with a monolith column, representing condominiums."

NCH shares closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 1.26 baht, up two satang, in total trade of 3.80 million baht.

  • Published in Bangkok Post: 29/02/2012 at 02:43 AM
  • Newspaper section: Business
JLL denies Bangkok condo bubble

Despite widespread concern of an oversupply in the condominium market, a property bubble remains impossible, says Suphin Mechuchep, managing director of the property consultant Jones Lang LaSalle Thailand.

"The Thai property market is active, particularly condominiums in inner Bangkok, despite domestic political problems and sluggish Western economies," she said at the Post Today Investment Expo 2012, which runs until tomorrow at CentralPlaza LardPrao.

"Thai property prices are one-tenth those in Hong Kong and Singapore, while the Thai economy remains strong and people have cash on hand. Property purchases are a way to compete with inflation, especially if its an investment for rent."

Some 25,000 condominium units were launched last year, which discounts the likelihood of a bubble, said Ms Suphin.

As Japan’s economy suffered last year, some 20,000 to 30,000 Japanese staff were sent back to their home country.

Although the condo rental market slowed, condos in inner Bangkok with good facilities fared well, she said.

Hot locations for property investment included Sukhumvit Road from Sois 1-63, which generated the highest rent. Other favourable locales were Narathiwat, Charoen Kung and Chan roads due to fewer competitors.

The new BTS extension into Bang Na district attracted many developments, although return on investment for a condo unit there was lower than on Sukhumvit Road between Sois Nana and Ekamai, which boasts 3-3.5% return a year.

Condos on Phahon Yothin, Ratchadaphisek and Lat Phrao roads are 60,000 to 95,000 baht a square metre.

The opening of CentralPlaza Grand Rama 9 and development of a new SET building on Rama IX Road makes that area ripe for more condominium growth.

Ms Suphin said last year’s flooding was comparable to the 2004 tsunami that caused a property price decline for a period, but now prices in Phuket have more than doubled their pre-tsunami level.

She acknowledged the government should have a clear flood prevention plan with a quick response to support the market for low-rise properties.

House renovation at the fair

Ban Lae Suan Fair, Dec 17-25, 9.30am-9pm, at Challenger Hall, Impact Muang Thong Thani.

Your house has been underwater for weeks, and still no ideas about renovation?

Then the forthcoming Ban Lae Suan Fair at Challenger Hall, Impact Muang Thong Thani, from Dec 17-25, is an event you can’t afford to miss.

House renovation is one of the highlights of this annual event, which was postponed from earlier this month due to the floods. Visitors can seek free consultation from experts and obtain manuals on how to protect your house from flooding.

The fair will also feature 10 of the best innovative ideas for home owners. The winning blueprint this year demonstrates how owners of detached houses can make money by turning their outer wall into an outdoor media advertising space.

The 10 finalists, mostly green concepts, also feature new gardening ideas including growing plants inside the house to cool down the temperature and conceal eyesores. Or growing flowers beneath a dish drainer so the water is reused to irrigate the flower pot and the area is kept dry.

Also available will be home decor items, designed to fit limited space.

  • Published In Bangkok Post: 23/11/2011 at 12:00 AM
  • Newspaper section: Life


Industry poised for gain

Furniture and home furnishings are expected to flourish next year, as people seek to replace old pieces ruined by the floods, driving the industry to grow by up to 10%, or 60 billion baht.

A customer checks out furniture at a fair held in mid-March this year. WISIT THAMNGERN

The local market is also set to reap the benefits from the government’s first-home tax breaks, said Kasikorn Research Center.

The research house noted the sector would be sluggish this year, particularly in the fourth quarter as floods have affected much of the country.

K-Research forecast the industry would grow by a modest 3-4% to 55 billion baht on weak demand, lower production and delays in distribution channels and logistics.

A number of factories were inundated while key wood supply centres were also affected, slowing production in Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Nakhon Sawan and Ayutthaya.

"However, the impact [of flooding] is just short-term," said K-Research.

"We expect the market will recover very rapidly within one to three months after the floods recede and people start cleaning and repairing their houses," the research house affiliated with Kasikornbank wrote.

Given growing demand in the coming year, it suggested operators speed up expanding distribution channels, develop and upgrade product quality and diversity, and use more online purchase and delivery services.

K-Research added the flood may spur demand for more durable, waterproof furniture.