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Social Innovation in Southeast Asia





The Bangkok Red Line

Elevating Environmental Quality in the Southeast Asian Metropolis




    Though covering just
    of the Earth’s surface

    Cities contribute over
    of greenhouse gas emissions

    Consume nearly
    of the world’s energy

    In Southeast Asia, this is particularly evident in one of the region’s biggest metropolises, Bangkok, where air pollution caused nearly 6,000 deaths and incurred a cost of over US$2.3 billion in 2020 alone.i

    If left unchecked, environmental sustainability in the Thai capital will reach a breaking point – if it has not already. For decades, Thailand has been experiencing a surge in its urban population.ii Millions have been flocking to the city for employment. This is resulting in an urban population that is expected to reach over 12 million people by 2030.iii

    Concurrently, the country has emerged as Southeast Asia’s biggest automotive manufacturing hub and is one of the largest globally. It is hence of little surprise that the country is also an automobile-dependent nation, especially in Bangkok where the city is also home to nearly 10 million vehicles.iv

    urban population that is expected to reach over
    people by 2030.

    traffic congestion causes an economic loss of over
    US$ 340M
    per year

    Unsurprisingly, the confluence of Bangkok’s urban population growth and increasing number of vehicles (it is estimated that there are 500,000 new vehicle registrations annually) on the road has led to the city garnering the notoriety of being one of the world’s most congested cities.v This choking congestion is a key factor underpinning the city’s adverse environmental situation,vi especially in terms of air pollution. But the adverse impacts go beyond the environment; in socio-economic terms, drivers waste over an hour daily stuck in traffic and experts posit that this causes an economic loss of over US$340 million per year, or nearly US$2 million daily.

    Alleviating Bangkok’s congestion burdens with advanced transit systems

    Perennial congestion is a major contributor to the country’s environmental woes. Hence, innovating the public transportation ecosystem, by ensuring fewer vehicles on the road has been a top priority for Thailand’s government, especially with the Environmental Sustainable Transport Master Planvii which focuses on creating systems that are sustainable for both public infrastructures and the people using them.


    Hitachi, in collaboration with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and Sumitomo Corporation

    Delivered a total of
    train sets
    (consisting of 130 rolling stocks) sourced from Japan.

    helping improve urban welfare by balancing the affordability for the city’s daily commuters.

    Taking a cue from other cities around the world in creating public transit networks, Bangkok unveiled the Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS) Skytrain elevated rapid transit system near the turn of the millennium, followed by the predominantly subway Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) in 2004. In the decades since, in line with Bangkok’s economic and population growth, both systems have been expanded to reach more areas within the Bangkok Metropolitan Area.

    As part of this expansion, Thailand’s government has been leading the Red Line Project. From Bang Sue Grand Station, which is Bangkok’s prime transportation hub located in the city’s central Chatuchak district, the fully elevated rail system comprises a 26.4-kilometer line to the north (North Line) and a 14.6-kilometer line to the west (West Line). Hitachi,viii in collaboration with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and Sumitomo Corporation, delivered a total of 25 train sets (consisting of 130 rolling stocks) sourced from Japan.

    Through this project, Hitachi is leveraging on the decades-long symbiotic relationship between Thailand and Japan in terms of economic trade and, most importantly, innovation transfers to improve the quality of life for Thailand’s people. This project is to specifically help alleviate Bangkok’s on-the-road vehicle population via a transportation mode that is not only more sustainable but also environmentally friendly. Even more, its impact has been more poignant, helping improve urban welfare by balancing the affordabilityix for the city’s daily commuters.

    Empowering Social Innovation to Accelerate Thailand 4.0

    Through this new transportation link, Hitachi Social Innovation is Powering Good and enhancing Thailand’s Social, Environmental and Economic values.

    Hitachi is also working closely with the government and local stakeholders to implement advanced 4th Industrial Revolution technologiesx and Smart City initiativesxi to bring the nation closer towards Thailand 4.0.

    With Bangkok’s Red Line, Hitachi is helping Thailand create more memorable passenger experiences that positively impact people’s quality of life – both in terms of being in a more environmentally-livable city and elevating how they lead their work and personal lives.

    “We are excited to be working with the Thailand government on the Red Line. This is a meaningful project that reflects Hitachi’s aims to improve people’s quality of life and pave the way for an environmentally sustainable future.”

    Yoshihiro Sugeta
    Managing Director of
    Hitachi Asia (Thailand) Co., Ltd