Bangkok Keeps Pulling Pattaya Closer and Closer
When the Bangkok-Ban Chang Motorway (better known at Motorway 7) opened several years ago, I described it as “Bangkok throwing a rope around Pattaya and pulling it closer”. A trip that could always take five hours was suddenly shortened to two hours. The effect it had on Pattaya was nothing short of miraculous.
Trashy old Pattaya became hip again, with thirty-something Thai couples and SUVs full of families streaming into Fun City for long weekends and holidays. In less than two hours, Bangkokians could escape the belching, hissing capitol and be sitting under a palm tree sipping something out of a coconut. It was a renaissance for the seaside resort town.
What would you say if I told you that in the very near future, a person could work in Bangkok and live in Pattaya, or Jomtien, or Bang Sare? What would you say if I told you a retiree living in his cozy condo on Wongamat Beach could shoot up to Bangkok for a day of shopping and be back in time to see the sunset on the Gulf of Thailand? What would you say if I told you that in the near future you could get from Bangkok to Pattaya in 30 minutes … Rayong in 45 minutes … and never get in a car?
The Don Mueang–Suvarnabhumi–U-Tapao high-speed railway, officially known as the High-Speed Rail Linking Three Airports Project (HSR) is the second high-speed rail line project in Thailand, and is planned to open connecting the three international airports in 2026.
Not only will the HSR link all three airports in the Eastern Economic Corridor, but it will also connect with the BTS (Skytrain), the MRT (Subway), the SRT (Red Line Suburban Railway), and the MRL (Yellow Line Skytrain) in Bangkok. Residents of Bangkok may never have to get in a car again.
Stations are planned for Don Muang, Bang Sue Grand, Phaya Thai, Ratchaprarop, Makkasan, Ramkhamhaeng, Hua Mak, Ban Thap Chang, Lat Krabang, Suvarnabhumi, Chachoengsao, Chonburi, Si Racha, Pattaya, and Utapao. Recently it was announced that Phase II of the project could extend as far as Trat.
Trains on the route will travel at a speed up to 250 kilometers per hour over the 220 km distance when it opens. According to Kanit Sangsubhan, Secretary-General of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Office, "It will handle 15 million passengers in the next five years, 30 million passengers in the next 15 years and 60 million passengers in the next 20 years,". It is expected to create 19,000 new jobs in the EEC according to the Employers Confederation of Thai Trade and Industry.
Get ready Pattayans, big sister Bangkok is getting ready to move in right next door. The only question is, how long will it be before we start calling Pattaya “Bangkok Beach”?