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Skytrain’s Soi Baring extension to run in August

Posted by arnon_k On November - 30 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) yesterday signed a contract to have Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS) operate the 5.25km-long Skytrain extension from On Nut to Soi Baring in exchange for Bt647.1 million per year.
Prapanpong Vejjajiva, director of Krungthep Thanakom – a BMA enterprise – and BTS President Khiri Kanchanapas signed the contract in front of BMA deputy governor Theerachon Manomaipibul.

BTS chief operating officer Surapong Laoha-Unya said that, under this one-year contract worth Bt647.1 million (including VAT), the company would provide trains to serve commuters on the extension from On Nut to Soi Baring, which would be officially open for public use from August 12, 2011 onwards.

After the contract ended, they would discuss about renewal – possibly for another 19 years, equal to the remaining period of Sukhumvit and Silom lines’ concession granted BTS by the city.

Following this contract signing, BTS would buy 35 more bogies from Germany-based Siemens for Bt2 billion to run on the Sukhumvit line and this extension. Also a previous order remains for 12 trains (totalling 48 bogies) from China that would operate on the Silom line.

BTS will collect all fares for the BMA for this extension but not pocket them – because BTS already has received the city’s payment for its operating service. It was expected that 100,000 people would use it per day in the first year.

Affirming that BTS was financially strong enough to run the city’s Skytrain extensions if approved in future, Khiri said the firm planned to issue a convertible bond of Bt10 billion on the foreign currency market – following the domestic bond worth Bt12 billion it issued last August.

Phatthalung rubber tappers hit hard by floods

Posted by arnon_k On November - 30 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Many parts of Phatthalung have been hit by floods – some for the fourth time – as the wet season continued to bring heavy rain to the South. Rubber tappers have complained about losing income for one month now.
After heavy rains on Saturday caused flooding in many areas in the province, The Nation visited Ban Phru Por in Pa Bon district yesterday, which has been under water since Sunday morning.

Villagers such as Preecha Srisawat and Boonpob Chumuad lamented that this was the fourth flood in a month and rubber tappers who hadn’t been able to work and earn money had started to borrow from others. Hoping that they would soon repay the debts after the water recedes, many now fear rubber trees might be damaged by the flooding.

Pa Bon district chief Somneuk Phromkhiew said the situation should be back to normal this week if there was no more rain.

However, the weather report might dim such hope, as the Phatthalung Disaster Prevention and Mitigation office warned residents yesterday about floods and possible landslides in six districts near the Ban Thad mountain range. They were Pa Phayom, Si Banphot, Kong Ra, Srinagarindra, Tamot and Pa Bon districts.

The Meteorological Department forecast yesterday that the ridge of rather intense high pressure from China that extends over upper Thailand and the South China Sea combined with the rather strong Northeast monsoon still prevails over the South and Gulf of Thailand. So widespread thundershowers and isolated heavy rain was expected over the next one to two days in Chumphon, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Phatthalung.

A landslide occurred yesterday on Khuan Khao Sa Mountain in Songkhla’s Chana district after three days of heavy rain. It damaging seven rai of rubber plantations – one kilometre from Ban Hua Khuan. No one was injured or killed, but villagers fear more landslides because the area remains soaked with water. They want geological authorities to inspect risky spots and report back to them.

Vodafone lowers smartphone prices in Europe

Posted by arnon_k On November - 30 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Vodafone has said it will make it cheaper for UK customers to use their smartphones when travelling in Europe.

UK customers who travel occasionally can take their domestic data plan abroad for £2 a day.

Frequent travellers can take a price plan that includes data roaming within their existing monthly package, with both options being available for consumer and business customers.

The mobile phone giant claims the new tariff is both simpler and cheaper.

Customers will be able to access the new tariffs in all Vodafone’s European countries, plus France, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria.

Vittorio Colao, chief executive of Vodafone, said this was the year of the smartphone: “We expect smartphone sales in Europe to grow from 32% to more than 70% by 2013 and we want to drive that growth with what we believe to be the best value market-leading roaming data package.”

James Franco and Anne Hathaway to co-host 2011 Oscars

Posted by arnon_k On November - 30 - 2010 2 COMMENTS

Actors James Franco and Anne Hathaway will co-host the 2011 Oscar ceremony, its organisers have announced.

According to producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer, the “fresh, exciting and multi-talented” pair “personify the next generation of Hollywood icons”.

Hathaway was nominated for an Oscar in 2008 for Rachel Getting Married, while Franco is best known for his Harry Osborn role in the Spider-Man films.

Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin co-hosted this year’s awards in March.

Cohen and Mischer said they hoped the Oscar broadcast would enable Franco and Hathaway to “showcase their incredible talents and entertain the world”.

“We are completely thrilled that James and Anne will be joining forces with our brilliant creative team to do just that,” they continued.

Hathaway, whose films include Alice in Wonderland, Becoming Jane and The Devil Wears Prada, has appeared on four previous Oscar telecasts.

In 2009, the 28-year-old was memorably plucked from the audience by then host Hugh Jackman to perform a musical skit based on the film Frost/Nixon.

Franco, whose other films include Milk, Pineapple Express and Eat, Pray, Love, will be making his second appearance on an Oscar show.

The 32-year-old has been tipped for a best actor nomination next year for his role as a trapped rock climber in Danny Boyle’s new film 127 Hours.

The Academy Awards will be held on 27 February at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles.

Before that, Hathaway will co-host this year’s Nobel peace prize concert in Norway on 11 December with actor Denzel Washington.