TRANSIT noted this very interesting article in the news today revealing a proposal by Malaysian Steel Works (Masteel) and KUB Malaysia to build a 100km intercity “commuter” rail system with 25 stations in the Iskandar Development Region of Johor.
The project is said to have a value of RM1.23 billion.
TRANSIT has discussed the proposal for a “Komuter Selatan” service in the past. With the increased investment in south Johor’s Iskandar Development Region, as well as improved ties between Singapore and Malaysia and increased activity at Malaysian ports at Pasir Gudang and Tanjung Pelapas, it seems that now is a good time for the investment.
But from what we gather from the article, it seems that rather than taking on the electrification and double tracking project themselves, KTMB may instead tender for private companies to build, and transfer the infrastructure, as well as own and operate the rail service.
More information and articles after the jump!
If approved by the government, this will be the first major rail project that would use KTMB-owned rail but would not directly involve KTMB.
Masteel, KUB To Jointly Run Inter-city Rail Transit System In Iskandar Malaysia (Bernama)
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 19 (Bernama) — Malaysia Steel Works (KL) Bhd (Masteel) and KUB Malaysia Bhd Wednesday signed a joint-venture agreement to jointly build and operate [a] 100km inter-city rail transit system costing RM1.23 billion at Iskandar Malaysia in Johor.
The system will also be linked to the Mass Rapid Transit line in Singapore. [TRANSIT: As you know, the intention is to have the new Singapore MRT Downtown line eventually cross over the border to Johor Baru Sentral.]
Masteel and KUB will hold 60 per cent and 40 per cent stakes, respectively, in the joint-venture company, Metropolitan Commuter Network Sdn Bhd.
The proposed inter-city rail transit will have up to 25 commuter stations in major towns in the Iskandar Malaysia economic corridor in the initial stage.
“We will use the existing Keretapi Tanah Melayu rail and will add four new stations in the growth areas along KTM’s rail path,” said Masteel managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tai Hean Leng.
“We hope the agreement with the government will be completed within this year and we expect to fully operate at the end-2013,” said Tai.
The project has two components: the “Build Transfer” of the rail transit infrastructure and the “Own Operate” of the inter-city train system.
“We are still having discussions to use the suitable electricity train coaches and we are looking at China and European countries,” he said.
On the socio-economic front, Tai said this project would ease traffic congestion, estimated to grow at 4.2 per cent every year along Johor and Singapore.
About 70 per cent of the construction cost of the rail transit infrastructure would be funded under the Public-Private Partnership scheme.
“With this project, we will see constant recurring income and we will be the first private train operator in Malaysia,” Tai added.
As far as we know, all the companies that operate public transport in Malaysia are private, but some are government-owned (making them indirectly public companies) or government-linked.
But it is clear from the information above that the company is ready to take on the electrification and double tracking of the railway between Tanjung Pelapas and Pasir Gudang – and possibly down to Tanjung Puteri (JB Sentral) as well.
By having a private company complete the EDT project and operate the ‘Komuter’ service, KTMB is absolved of the responsibility for operating a money-losing public transport service and can just focus on their (profitable) freight operations and (heavily-subsidized) intercity operations.
As you can imagine, the members of TRANSIT will be interested to see more details of the project and to see whether KTMB will put the EDT project out to competitive tender in an open and transparent manner.
From the article below, it also appears that the JV companies are also interested in expanding into freight and intercity services if the demand exists.
Masteel and KUB have formed Metropolitan Commuter Network Sdn Bhd (MCN) to undertake the project. Masteel holds a 60 per cent stake and the remaining stake, by KUB.
The 100km-intercity rail system – the first in Johor – has been proposed to run on KTM Bhd (KTMB)’s existing rail track, covering 25 commuter stations in major towns. It may eventually be connected to the MRT line from Singapore.
Tai and KUB group managing director Datuk Mohd Nazar Samad are optimistic of returns from the project as it will provide a recurring income during the 25-year concession period.
For the rail transit project, MCN has to secure licensing from The Land Public Transport Commission and concession from the Economic Planning Unit.
The project, which will take 24 months to complete, will involve the rolling stock, electrification, signalling as well as upgrading existing stations and construction of four new stations at new growth areas.
Again, we will be following this project and hoping to share more information with the public as soon as it is available.
It becomes more and more clear that the government and private businesses are ready to move forward on public transport infrastructure projects at this time.
The question is when and how the improvements to service quality will actually start to take place.