Sunday, March 25, 2012

Jalan Sultan and realignment

Just in case you miss out, MRT Corp released a report about the controversial acquisition and realignment. It is accessible at MRT website.

The main content of the report includes background and overview, final alignment, land acquisition, social and environmental impact and continuous engagement.

(KVMRT) would only highlight the issue on final alignment and land acquisition for the interest of public.

The final alignment was determined using a three step process:-

Step 1: The first step is the establishment of fixed points along the corridor in which the MRT alignment must serve. These are major developments, centres of activity and landmarks. These points are densely populated areas, activity centres such as the Central Business District, shopping centers or office blocks or areas where there is potential future growth.

Step 2: Secondly, the alignment has to connect these fixed points. To arrive at the best alignment, a balance of six factors are given due consideration:-

 Social impact to be minimized

 Land acquisition to be minimized

 Journey time to be optimized

 Constructability (taking into consideration technical and ground conditions)

 Integration with existing and future public transport networks

 Ridership to be maximized and stations to be easily accessible

Step 3: Changes following public feedback gathering process.

Final alignment at Jalan Sultan/Jalan Petaling

The final alignment in the Jalan Sultan/Jalan Petaling area was determined using the three-step process described above.

The first step was the establishment of fixed points which the MRT alignment must serve. In this case the fixed points were the Pasar Seni LRT Station and future development at the former Merdeka Stadium and Stadium Negara area.

Pasar Seni LRT Station was identified as a fixed point because it will be the interchange point between the new MRT line and the existing Kelana Jaya LRT system. This integration point is crucial because it will enable users of the LRT system to change to the MRT and viceversa without needing to walk too far. Commuters will hop from one network to another without having to buy new tickets.

Another fixed point is the proposed Menara Warisan mixed development project where the present Merdeka Stadium and Stadium Negara are located. It will be a major centre of activity and will house a very large population of office and retail outlet workers.

Convenient access to public transport is critical to cater to such a large number of people and such a high level of activity.

The second step was to ensure that the alignment connected these fixed points taking into account the six factors mentioned above:-

 Social impact would be minimized because the final alignment reduces the number of buildings that need to be acquired for or affected by the project

 Land acquisition is minimised and will only involve government-owned properties namely Pasarama Kota, Plaza Warisan and Plaza UO

 Journey time is optimized because the final alignment is a more direct route

 Constructability along Jalan Sultan is good because the area has suitable soil conditions, no major obstructions, and the alignment managed to avoid tight curves

 The final alignment integrates with the Kelana Jaya LRT line as well as the proposed Warisan Merdeka

 The location of the station at Pasarama Kota is adjacent to the activity center of the Jalan Sultan/Jalan Petaling area thus making the station readily accessible to a major catchment area, thus having good potential ridership

The third step involved public scrutiny of the alignment where feedback was received during the three month period from February 14 to May 14, 2011. During this period, alternative alignments were proposed and these alignments were studied in great depth to find out if they were suitable.

Note: All information above is by MRT Corp. Any usage and copyright issue is not intended to be violated if any.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

MMC-Gamuda wins MRT tunnelling job

Yesterday, MRT Corp announced the award of the underground package of the MY Rapid Transit (MRT) Sungai Buloh-Kajang line to a joint venture comprising MMC Corporation Bhd and Gamuda Bhd (MMC-Gamuda JV).

Logo of MMC-Gamuda

The decision comes after One Stop Procurement Committee (OSPC) meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, YAB Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak at Parliament.

It is known that MMC Gamuda bid price of RM8.2 billion to design and build the 9 5km MRT underground tunnel and seven underground stations, was 3.4 per cent lower than the second lowest offer.

MMC-Gamuda Joint Venture was one of five companies or joint ventures which pre-qualified under a stringent set of criteria to tender the underground package of the MRT project. The other tenderers were Hyundai-Gadang-Chengal Jaya Joint Venture, Taisei Corp, Sinohydro Group Ltd, and the China Railway Group Ltd.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Review: Titiwangsa interchange station

KVMRT is introducing the integrated station between KL Monorail and Ampang Line. The first one is the Titiwangsa station.

Lift at platform to LRT concourse

LRT concourse (customer service counter)

Direction to Ampang Line and KL Monorail

Paid area separated from Monorail concourse 

Titiwangsa Monorail platform

Transfer from Monorail to Ampang Line

Overview of Titiwangsa station

Disclaimer: All the images here do not belong to KVMRT. No copyright is intended to be violated.

Tunnelling of Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit

KVMRT brought the attention about the tunnelling of multi-billion My Rapid Transit (MRT).

Boring in the city (The Star)

Monday March 19, 2012

By Meng Yew Choong

Building the award-winning dual-purpose tunnel called SMART was difficult enough. But building the Klang Valley MRT tunnel will have engineers pushing the envelope even more.

By next month, engineers and contractors who are into tunnelling will be fixated on a 9.3km underground strip of land that runs through one of Kuala Lumpur’s most developed parts. The stretch, which forms a crucial part of the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT) infrastructure, starts near the intersection between Jalan Semantan and Jalan Duta, before snaking through KL Sentral, Pasar Seni, Bukit Bintang, Stadium Merdeka, and Pasar Rakyat, before reemerging near Taman Miharja.

Like all metro tunnels, the KVMRT’s underground infrastructure will be built in the form of twin tunnels mostly running side-by-side to enable trains to rapidly traverse both directions. Work will begin in earnest once the successful bidder for the multibillion-ringgit tunnelling portion of this massive project is announced by MRT Corporation.

The dual, or twin-bore, tunnels will enable trains to run up and down from Sungai Buloh to Kajang along a 51km-long track that is intended to transform the way Malaysians commute.

This Tunnel Boring Machine was used to create the SMART; the machine that will be used in the even more difficult KVMRT project will be similar, though probably more advanced.

The tunnels will connect seven underground stations at KL Sentral, Pasar Seni, Merdeka (after Stadium Merdeka), Bukit Bintang Sentral (near Lot 10), Pasar Rakyat, Cochrane, and Maluri (see for exact location of stations).

Over the next five years, Klang Valley drivers can expect to see some road diversions to facilitate the construction of the track, both for the elevated as well as underground portions.

Work on the elevated portion would, of course, be easily visible to all, and hence, road users will have a sense of the progress of the construction; but tunnelling will remain largely hidden.

One may ask how difficult could tunnelling be, given the continuous technological advancement in the field, as well as extensive knowledge now available in the Klang Valley courtesy of tunnels built for the Putra LRT (now part of Rapid KL) and the award-winning 9.7km Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART).

However, those who are in the know think that the company that successfully bids for the KVMRT project will be facing an unprecedented challenge in completing the 9.3km tunnel running under some of Kuala Lumpur’s most heavily developed areas on time and on budget.

To get an idea of the difficulties posed by this project, we held a teleconference interview with a German tunnelling expert.

“Boring the SMART was slightly easier in the sense that it did not have to pass through developed areas characterised by deep foundations,” says Dr Bernhard Maidl, a tunnelling expert with Maidl Consulting Engineers located at Bochum, Germany.

Maidl certainly knows what he is talking about as he has assisted in building over 100 tunnels worldwide, and has extensive knowledge of the tough geological conditions found under Kuala Lumpur.

The difficulties in building the SMART were not really made known to the public while work was being done; it was only after its completion that we came to know that it was no walk in the park even though state-of-the-art (at that time) tunnel boring machines (TBMs) were used.

This sinkhole appeared in Jalan Chan Sow Lin, Kuala Lumpur, during tunnelling works for the karstic portion of the SMART in 2005. Knowledge and experience derived from that project as well as more sophisticated technology should minimise such incidents today.

Deep complications

The TBMs were needed to punch a smooth hole through the highly-weathered limestone on which Kuala Lumpur sits. These types of landforms are called karst by geologists, and are generally the result of mildly acidic water acting on weakly soluble bedrock such as limestone (which is mainly calcium carbonate).

Water, either rainwater or groundwater, will gradually dissolve the surface along fractures in the limestone bedrock. Over time, these fractures enlarge as the bedrock continues to dissolve. The openings in the rock will increase in size to form underground drainage systems that will, in turn, allow more water to pass through the area and accelerate the formation of underground karst features after thousands, if not millions, of years.

The erosive and corrosive power of acidic water works its magic to leave behind a labyrinth of passages, steep drops and huge caverns (just like those seen in Perak’s Gua Tempurung, or in other exposed limestone hills).

Engineering-wise, Kuala Lumpur’s karst is classified as “extreme karst” (5 on a scale of 1 to 5) – it has an intricate underground network of channels that can go in any direction, steep sided cliffs, soft in-filled valleys, and a highly irregular rock heads.

Cavers would know all these terms, as they love to explore such features – but they are a tunnel engineer’s absolute nightmare as these features are the same ones that can cause sinkholes and ground subsidence during tunnelling.

Karst sinkholes and ground subsidence happen when disturbances to the underground water table causes earth and other debris to shift; this can happen when the TBM pierces underground reservoirs or water-filled cavities, thus disrupting the fine equilibrium of the system. Another possible consequence are mudflows (known within the industry as blowouts), which can rise to the surface during the boring process.

With the exception of a few hundred metres at both ends, the SMART was basically bored through highly weathered karst, which provided the engineers with a good learning experience in constructing structures under Kuala Lumpur. Extreme karst gave the builders of the SMART plenty of headaches, as dozens of sinkholes and mudflows occurred unexpectedly during construction of the dual-purpose tunnel that lies at depths of between 10m and 16m from the surface.

During the excavation of a tunnel through soft, water-bearing ground, a temporary support is often required to maintain the stability of the working face. In some cases, this support is provided by slurry, a thick suspension of solids within a liquid (usually a pressurised mixture of bentonite and water). Occasionally, this muddy mixture can reach the surface through fissures in the ground, causing what is known as a blowout. Seen here is an instance of slurry blowout at Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur, during the SMART’s construction.

However, experienced tunnellers know that they can, to a large extent, mitigate these incidents through careful and deliberate pre-excavation treatment, which largely entails filling up the cavities and voids with grout before the boring machine passes through that stretch. But in order to know where the cavities are, extensive soil sampling and geophysical tests (using sonar and electrical resistance, for example) are necessary to ferret out these anomalies; this is what the winning bidder for the multibillion-ringgit KVMRT project must do to minimise the possibility of ground subsidence in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

Over 150 bore holes have already been dug for initial studies, and the data have been published in the tender document for the KVMRT project; and despite the enormity of the task, there are already five interested parties vying for the job, including MMC-Gamuda, the only local consortium shortlisted.

Whoever gets the job will face the prospect of tunnelling at an average depth of 30m while doing their utmost to avoid, for instance, a sinkhole appearing in Jalan Bukit Bintang – can you imagine the chaos caused by closing one of the country’s busiest – and, arguably, commercially most important – streets? Ground subsidence is also a no-no at places where there is existing critical infrastructure like railway lines, major highways and even existing tunnels – yes, the KVMRT tunnel will have to pass under the SMART.

Thankfully, preliminary soil sampling for the tunnelling portion has indicated that only half of the KVMRT tunnel will pass through karst formations. The other half of the tunnel will go through the much more predictable formation composed of sedimentary rocks called the Kenny Hill formation (see graphic below).

Most of Kuala Lumpur sits on either one of these formations, which hold very different implications for engineering, even for things as simple as putting in a single pile. For example, the Kuala Lumpur City Centre project that hosts the Petronas Twin Towers was shifted just so it could sit on the more predictable Kenny Hill formation, rather than being built on the riskier karst.

Sedimentary rocks are formed under relatively uniform conditions over relatively large areas; this permits relatively accurate interpretation between data points and projections. As such, tunnelling works through the Kenny Hill formation should be relatively easy to manage during the design and construction stages. This should be good news for fans of Jalan Sultan in the heritage enclave of Chinatown, as the stretch sits on the Kenny Hill formation, which means it is extremely unlikely that complications will arise when tunnelling through this portion.

Spiralling difficulty

To minimise ground subsidence in such challenging geological conditions, and particularly so in a densely urban environment such as Kuala Lumpur, whoever gets the contract is expected to use the most sophisticated tunnel boring machines available, coupled with extensive ground investigations and comprehensive pre-tunnelling soil treatment.

Dr Markus Thewes, a professor at the Institute for Tunnelling and Construction Management of Germany’s Ruhr-University (who joined Maidl at our teleconference), predicts that significant improvements in knowledge of karst terrain and tunnelling technology will come in handy for whoever builds the KVMRT tunnel.

“Many improvements in tunnelling technology have taken place over the past two years, and I would expect that these technological improvements should be in place for the project. Sinkholes arising from tunnelling, if they occur at all, will be very rare compared to previous tunnelling works in the same kind of formation.”

An outcome of the failure to allocate a rail transport corridor during the nascent years of Kuala Lumpur’s development means that engineers have little option even in tunnel alignment when they designed the KVMRT tunnel.

Other than the many deep foundations of tall buildings to avoid, there is also utility infrastructure like sewerage lines, telecommunications cables, electricity cabling, water pipes, and gas pipes to contend with. At Kampung Pandan, the KVMRT tunnel has to go down as deep as 50m to maintain a safe distance as it passes under the SMART.

At Bukit Bintang Central, the underground space is so narrow that the twin tunnels have to be stacked on top of each other, rather than being laid side-by-side as in all other areas. This means that one tunnel would have to be dug in such a way that it forms a mini spiral to one side, just so that it can be on top of the other tunnel, before curving back to the side-by-side formation after it passes the Bukit Bintang area!

According to Maidl, all these factors combine to create some of the most unique tunnelling challenges ever.

“Building the KVMRT tunnel will require an extremely high level of knowledge and experience, right from the selection of contractor and consultants, to the design as well as execution levels. Everyone on the project needs to be experienced, as the tunnel goes through very public areas with a lot of traffic.”

Friday, March 9, 2012

New 4-carriage trains KL Monorail

KVMRT welcomes the great news for KL Monorail commuters in this November. Overcrowding at station and inside the Monorail would be a past thing when 4-car trains operate (existing is 2-car), by Scomi Rail Bhd.

Scomi wins RM494m job to supply 4-car trains (BTimes)

By Bilqis Bahari

KUALA LUMPUR: More city dwellers will be able to ride the newly-upgraded KL Monorail in one go and their journey time on the trains will also be reduced.

With this in mind, 12 sets of new four-car trains will be built and used for the existing monorail under a contract agreement inked between Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd (Prasarana) and Scomi Rail Bhd (Scomi).

The RM494 million project is scheduled to be completed by July 2013. The first set of four-car trains will be running starting November 15 2012.

The new four-car trains will be able to load on an average of 118 passengers per car, compared to the existing car-trains that can fit only 107 passengers per car.

Scomi Engineering Bhd chairman Datuk Zainun Aishah Ahmad said the current two-car trains are serving at 35 per cent over capacity and it is projected that this number will increase substantially by 2012.

"To meet this demand, Prasarana has contracted Scomi to double the capacity of the current KL monorail line to 6,400 passengers per hour per direction with the new four-car-trains," she said.

Meanwhile, Scomi group chief executive officer Shah Hakim Zain said besides providing the new four-car trains, Scomi will also improve the individual monorail stations by increasing the length of platforms and improve the current stations condition.

He added that Scomi will install a new signalling system for the trains, so that "it will allow us to move into driverless technology in the future."

He was speaking to reporters at a press conference after the signing ceremony yesterday. Also present was the Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha.

Kong said the project is part of the government's National Key Result Areas, its objective is to increase the ridership capacity for the KL Monorail Line by end-2012 and to enhance the comfort and convenience to KL commuters.

The 4-car train for KL Monorail.

New entrance of Bukit Bintang Monorail station from Lot10 side is now under construction.

Groundwork at Imbi Station, noticed the support column base.

With the new 4-carriage trains are in used, carrying capacity will increase to 472 passengers from current 214. This figure will increase to 5664 passengers per direction per hour (472 x 12).

These are strikingly poor line capacity numbers that are more in range with a middle-capacity Bus Rapid Transit system or a tram/streetcar! And the monorail cost us 40 million USD per km!

Most of stations are undergoing expansion, in terms of platform. Besides, integration at Titiwangsa and Bukit Nenas station are almost complete.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

MyKomuter launched

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin launched the new KTM Komuter 6 car train sets (SCS) which began operations from KL Sentral on Thursday. It is to be named as MyKomuter.

New coaches more spacious with latest high-tech gadgets (The Star)

Wednesday March 7, 2012

By Isabelle Lai

KUALA LUMPUR: Longer and more spacious trains will ply the Port Klang-Sentul and Seremban-Rawang routes from this weekend to serve some 98,000 commuters.

Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) will start with four of the 38 six-car units costing a total RM1.89bil.

The rest will be introduced in stages by June.

When all the new trains hit the track, waiting time will be reduced from half an hour to just 10 minutes.

The new six-car train waiting at the Rawang station.

KTMB corporate communications senior manager Mohd Fazil Ismail expects immediate improvement to the service, given that each train can hold 1,100 passengers, compared to the 400-passenger capacity of the present three-car units.

The trains, made by China's Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive company and costing close RM50mil each, would drastically reduce overcrowding in KTM trains along the popular routes, he said during a media tour of the sophisticated coaches.

“Some passengers have complained being made to wait for the next train due to overcrowding. We hope to avoid such situations in the future,” he said, adding that KTMB received an average of two to three written complaints a day.

About 70,000 commuters take KTM trains to and from work during the morning and evening peak hours. A further 28,000 passengers travel from 10am to 4.30pm.

The six-car units incorporate several passenger-friendly features, including an LCD screen notification system, plug points to charge electronic devices, and a two-way intercom between passengers and drivers for emergencies. There are also the women-only coaches.

“Our voice automated announcement and LCD notification system are especially helpful to disabled passengers, alerting them of arrivals at a station,” he said.

Each unit can accommodate more standing passengers with its three-row handrail. An open space concept enables passengers to move from coach to coach.

Helpful feature: The new trains will be equipped with an LCD screen notification system.

Mohd Fazil said the train also had security features allowing doors to be opened manually and windows to be broken in case of emergen-cies.

“Each coach has three CCTV cameras for the driver to monitor what's going on. There are also ladders for emergencies,” he said.

He said KTMB had been planning to get the new trains since May 2010 in line with the National Key Result Area objective of improving urban public transportation.

Mohd Fazil said the Government had allocated RM2bil to improve KTM services.

The remaining RM110mil would be used to switch to a token-based ticketing system to be introduced in May.

Ladies on board the ladies only coaches

Related stories:
Commuters looking forward to a better ride

On right track with new trains