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Monorail Mishap in Thailand: A Rogue Wheel’s Wild Ride on Thepharak Road

Imagine yourself on a typical bustling Tuesday evening in Samut Prakan. The urban orchestra is in full swing: the humming of monorail trains, the cacophony of traffic, and here, the abrupt heart-stopping ‘thud!’ that disrupts the rhythm. Onlookers gasp as a wheel, seemingly possessed with a mind of its own, tumbles from the sky, bounces with the nimbleness of a ballerina and lands with an artful thump on an unsuspecting green-yellow taxi. No, this isn’t a scene from a whimsical movie; it’s the real-life spectacle that unfolded on Thepharak Road—courtesy of a Yellow Line monorail train that decided to shed some weight—a rubber wheel, to be precise.

Picture the scene: it’s about 6.30 pm. The elevated railway above Thepharak Road plays host to this curious episode. A wheel from a train bound for Lat Phrao takes a leap of faith, strikes the road, and a taxi becomes an unwitting participant in this urban drama. The car is adorned suddenly with an unwanted accessory—the taxi driver, 73-year-old Wirat Khumsap, narrates the moment with the vividness of someone who’s experienced a close encounter of the third kind. The sound, piercing; the shock, palpable. Yet, he and his passenger emerge unscathed, save for a fair dose of astonishment and a story for the ages.

Let’s give a moment’s attention to our unsung hero—the fallen stabilising wheel. Its usual day job involves a mundane but crucial role, guiding along the concrete beam with the finesse of a silent sentinel. But not this day. It chose audacity over duty, much to the chagrin of local law enforcement, who now had an unexpected event to file under ‘T for ‘Traffic Oddities’.

Despite the cloak of drama, the Yellow Line held its head high and continued its service, because as they say, ‘the show must go on.’ And the intrepid train that lost more than its footing? Tucked away and rightly so, into its depot, away from the prying eyes of the public.

No more than a fortnight earlier, mass-transit in the capital region was subject to another wrinkle on its otherwise smooth facade—a four-kilometer-long conductor rail on the Pink Line monorail deciding to part ways with its moorings. Fortunately, with the kind-heartedness that only inanimate objects can exhibit, it chose a time when no casualties could ensue. Still, three vehicles were left to mourn their unexpected ‘enhancements’.

The Yellow Line, a marvel of engineering stretching 30.4-kilometers connecting Bangkok with Samut Prakan, began its dance among the giants in July of the previous year. Starring 23 stations, it parades along the Lat Phrao and Srinakarin Road corridors with the elegance of a debutante. The Eastern Bangkok Monorail Co Ltd, a maestro of the tracks, commands this line, all under the watchful eye of the BSR JV Consortium, an alliance of SET-listed behemoths.

Not to be outdone, the Pink Line, with its 30 stations still in its nascent trial phase, offers a free pass to all who wish to partake in its journey. Until the 6th of January, that is. Its incident of rebellion now under wraps, it’s being primed and prepped for the grand stage.

The steel steeds that grace these routes trace their lineage to an East-meets-West collaboration between CRRC Puzhen Bombardier Transportation Systems, a testament to Sino-Canadian consortium finesse. And there they will run, day in and day out, punctuating the city’s symphony, one carefully curated commute at a time…albeit, hopefully, with all wheels firmly attached.

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