Trains delayed – to 2013
By Pauline Almeida
January 30, 2009 The Malay Mail
The trains Klang Valley commuters have been waiting for to alleviate their misery will be delayed — yet again.
Word from transport industry sources is that planned additional lines and stations for the light rail train (LRT) network is now projected to be ready only in 2013 — three years later than originally planned.
“While the public would be let down by this revelation, the truth is that funding is the major problem,” an industry source told Malay Mail yesterday.
It is learnt that Syarikat Prasarana Nasional Bhd (SBNB), the whollyowned government company (under Ministry of Finance Inc) set up to run key public transport companies, is facing difficulty sourcing the estimated RM5 billion for the 32km project.
The extensions to the existing Kelana Jaya-Gombak and Sri Petaling-Ampang lines were supposed to be ready by 2010, and were later delayed to 2011, the source said.
With the latest developments, the projected 700,000 daily commuters will have to wait till 2013 for the extended network to come on line.
SPNB has yet to hire the consultant engineer for the project, although it had previously indicated the appointment was set for last September when the resignation of its then chief executive officer, Shaipudin Shah Harun, was announced.
What appears to be the latest development is the firm’s submission of plans for verification by the Ministry of Transport. This is to ensure that there would be no future disruptions. Plans were also recently submitted to the Land Office, and the Natural Resources and Federal Land Department.
Sources said the public, especially residents who could be affected by the project, would be given the opportunity to express their views on the proposed extensions from Sri Petaling to Kinrara, Puchong and Putra Heights (about 10km from Putrajaya) and Subang-Putra Heights.
“This should take place between February and May,” the source said.
“To meet the 2011 target, construction should start by the middle of this year. But we are still at the approval stage and funding has not been resolved yet. It would be proper to set the new target at 2013.
“But, can the public wait another four years? They are sure to express their outrage.”
Currently, the Kelana Jaya and Sri Petaling lines ferry some 160,000 and 150,000 passengers respectively daily.
“If the network extensions are completed by 2010-2011, more than 700,000 passengers would be able to commute to work affordably and with ease. And that’s not forgetting how much this would help reduce vehicle exhaust pollution,” the source added.
The 35 LRT trains ordered from abroad are supposed to arrive between now and 2011 as part of the goal to improve the service.
This would address the inconvenience commuters now face, such as packed trains and travel delays, while also helping to reduce traffic congestion in the Klang Valley.
Currently, each train has two coaches, with each coach capable of ferrying 50 to 70 passengers. The new trains are expected to have four coaches each, thus doubling the load.
Following Malay Mail reports last August, which highlighted commuter problems, LRT operator Rapid KL has increased the frequency of trains on the Kelana Jaya line.
Komuter relief by March
KTM Bhd has announced that the arrival of 36 electric multiple units (EMUs) by March would reduce the intervals between trains to 15 minutes.
KTM Komuter trains now operate at a frequency of between 25 and 35 minutes, based on the 21 to 23 trains, and occasionally 26, available.
It originally had 62 train sets. Two are in a complete state of disrepair while the remaining 34 EMUs are widely believed to be unusable and parked at a stockyard, according to sources.
Background on LRT extension
When announcing the 2009 Budget, the government had allocated RM35 billion to improve public transportation between 2009 and 2014.
As for the extension of the light rail transit (LRT) network, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced in 2006 that the new LRT lines linking Kota Damansara and Cheras would be operational in 2010.
The LRT extension project was supposed to be part of a special RM10 billion government allocation for an efficient and cost-effective public transport system in the Klang Valley.
The new line will cover some 32km and cut across Kuala Lumpur. The Kelana Jaya line (formerly Putra LRT) will be extended to Subang Jaya and USJ, while the Sri Petaling line (formerly Star LRT) will cover Puchong.