Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Iskandar Malaysia considering 500km MRT

Iskandar Malaysia considering 500km MRT
By Lee Wei Lian

KUALA LUMPUR, April 12 — The Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) is considering a 500km Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system for south Johor.

The line will be in their administered Iskandar Malaysia region — the special development zone across neighbouring Singapore.

IRDA chief executive Ismail Ibrahim said today if the proposal is accepted, the Iskandar Malaysia MRT will be developed in six phases with the first phase completed by 2020.

He added that if the proposal is accepted, an announcement will be made in May after a scheduled leadership meeting.

“An announcement will be made on which system to do first, for improved connectivity we are looking at MRT,” said Ismail.

Putrajaya has already approved a 51km-long MRT in the Klang Valley which is scheduled to begin construction after a July 8 ground-breaking ceremony.

But opposition lawmakers have argued about the scant details of the the Klang Valley MRT and want the authorities to consider alternative public transport systems.

The first line between Sungai Buloh and Kajang is part of three lines in the Klang Valley that were initially costed at RM36.6 billion but the authorities now expect the price to be higher as the project proponents did not include land acquisition and rolling stock costs.

The government-owned Syarikat Prasarana Nasional Berhad (SPNB) will own the Klang Valley MRT apart from the current Light Rail Transit (LRT) and monorail systems in Kuala Lumpur.

The current LRT and monorail network is still operating at a loss as SPNB looks to generate revenue to pay a RM10 billion bond used to acquire the transport systems.

Ismail said that IRDA was also considering putting a Bus Rapid Transit system in place in addition to the MRT.

The IRDA chief declined to comment on the cost but said that the authority was looking to see how MRT could integrate with Singapore's system.