SRT to clarify Airport Link train purchase

SRT to clarify Airport Link train purchase :The Transport Ministry on Thursday ordered the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) to provide a full report on its 4.4-billion-baht purchase of seven trains for the Airport Rail Link project after the agency was accused of procurement fraud.

Deputy Transport Minister Omsin Cheewapreuk asked SRT governor Wuthichart Kalyanamitrafor the report amid claims the SRT set the specifications for the procurement to favour Chinese company Changchun Railway Vehicles Co (CRC).
The transport agency was also criticised for not cancelling the procurement auction after CRC was the only one of four interested companies to submit a bid, despite the other firms buying bidding application documents.
A source at the ministry said the SRT board approved the procurement of the seven trains, comprising 28 carriages in total, from the CRC earlier this month.
Mr Omsin said the SRT must clarify why it did not cancel the bidding process and provide a reasonable explanation for its decision.
“We cannot force the remaining three firms to submit their proposals. However, whether the bidding was cancelled or not, the SRT must explain,” he added.
The minister said he did not believe reports that the SRT specified during the procurement process that the train carriages had to accommodate a maximum of 10 passengers per square metre.
He said the normal standard for carriage capacity was six people per square metre, while the maximum capacity was eight people.
“The 10 people speculation is unlikely,” Mr Omsin said, but added the SRT must clarify this issue too.
The SRT had also been criticised over its specification that eight drive systems must be installed in each four-carriage train.
Mr Omsin said trains could run using just two drive systems installed in the first and last carriages.
The minister said the purchase of the seven trains came after the number of commuters on the Airport Rail Link shot up from about 30,000 per day in 2010 to 70,000 per day currently.
Many passengers have complained of being stranded at stations as only seven trains are currently operating.
Trains arrive every 12 minutes, which is twice as long as the six-minute international average of train arrival frequency, Mr Omsin said.
Mr Wuthichart said the SRT is preparing its report. He said the SRT did not call off the auction as it feared being sued by the firm which won the bidding.
Siemens Thailand, one of the firms that had bought bidding application documents, did not submit a proposal because it could not comply with the SRT’s criteria of guaranteeing carriages for two years, Mr Wuthichart said.
The company could only offer a one-year guarantee, he added.
The SRT governor said the 4.4-billion-baht price broke down into 4 billion baht for the purchase of the trains and 400 million baht for spare parts.
The ministry source said the CRC was able to offer a more reasonable price so Siemens decided not to submit its proposal to the SRT.

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