Bangkok could witness a new tunnelling boom after the Ministry of Transport confirmed that work would start later this year on two new metro lines, part of a US$13.2bn plan to build seven new lines totalling 248km by 2010.

Thailand’s transport minister, Suriya Jungrungreangkit, said the programme includes funding to buy out concessions awarded to the Bangkok Metro Company in the 1990’s to build and operate the Bangkok metro, which is due to open in August.

The first of the new routes to go-ahead will run from Phran Nok in western Bangkok to Samut Prakan, east of the capital. The second will connect Saphan Mai in northern Bangkok to Bang Wa in the south.

Work on the other five lines will start next year. They comprise the inner ring road circle line; Bang Yai in Nonthaburi to Rat Burana; Bang Bamru to Bang Kapi; Rangsit to Samut Sakhon; and Taling Chan to Suvarnabhumi international airport.