The Pattaya Monorail

Connecting the future high-speed railway to the beach in what could eventually be a 3-line transit system.

Greetings from Ho Chi Minh City. This week I’m continuing with the theme of proposed provincial transit systems of Thailand. So far I’ve covered Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Khon Kaen. The latest edition to that list is Pattaya.

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The Pattaya Monorail is a proposed railway that would connect the future Pattaya high-speed railway station with the popular beach area of the city.

Like every other provincial transit proposal in Thailand, the Pattaya Monorail has been debated and re-proposed for over a decade. While I would never consider it confirmed until it’s actually built, if the high-speed rail from Bangkok goes ahead then they will have extra incentive to get it done.

I have mixed feelings about monorails, which are usually associated with theme parks. That Simpsons monorail episode hasn’t helped the cause of monorail acceptance either.

My first experience of a monorail was the ill-fated Sydney Monorail.

There is a monorail in Kuala Lumpur, and it is my least favourite rail transit system in Southeast Asia. The cabins feel cramped, it has weirdly-shaped seats, and it’s clunky around corners.

[Kuala Lumpur Monorail.]

My tune towards monorails changed after experiencing the Tokyo Monorail from Haneda Airport (of course it would be from Japan). The cabins are spacious, and it felt like part of the Tokyo transit system and not part of a fun park.

With an underground metro not being an option, and not enough room for a Skytrain like in Bangkok, the monorail is the best option for Pattaya. If they get it right then it will be a useful service. At the moment the train and bus stations are far from the beach area, so being connected by the monorail will make a big difference.

I’m also interested if they can build the other two lines and convert the old railway in to an Eastern Economic Corridor commuter railway. If you look on the monorail map in the blog post, there will be a three-line junction near Bali Hai in South Pattaya. Will they build the station to create a seamless transfer between lines?

Another thing to watch will be the interchange between the high-speed station and the monorail. This render I found makes it look like a new city inside the city.

Of course it may not even get built. So far none of the provincial transit systems of Thailand have begun construction. If I was a bookmaker trying to set the odds for which city will get the first transit line, I would be hard-pressed to pick a favourite.

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