Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Many interested in developing high-speed intra-city commuter train for Iskandar
JOHOR BARU: The proposal to develop the intra-city commuter train (ICCT) service for Iskandar Malaysia is still open and interested parties are invited to submit their proposals on the project. Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said there were no reasons to stop those interested in the project from doing so. He said although Irda had received a proposal on the project by Metropolitan Commuter Network Sdn Bhd (MCN), the Federal Government had yet to make a decision on it. “There is no exclusivity on the part of MCN and we do not deny other interested parties from proposing the project to us,” Ismail told StarBiz.
He said the high-speed train (HST) project has attracted many potential investors, and companies could submit their proposals for the intercity rail project in Iskandar Malaysia. The feasibility study on the HST project will be completed by the end of the year and the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) will submit its findings on the project to the Government in the first quarter of 2013. It will only take 80 minutes on the high-speed train from Kuala Lumpur to Johor Baru and 90 minutes to Singapore.
“We (Johor and Irda) have done our part to support the proposal, but supporting does not tantamount to agreeing to the project to be implemented in Iskandar Malaysia,” said Ismail. He recalled last year when several newspapers had misquoted Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman, who is also Irda co-chairman, as saying that Johor had agreed to the MCN’s project.
MCN is a joint-venture company between KUB Malaysia Bhd and Malaysia Masteel Works (KL) Bhd and the company had proposed to the Government to construct and operate the rail transit network in Iskandar Malaysia. The company had proposed to develop the RM1.23bil rail network covering 100km to serve all the major suburbs in the country’s first economic growth corridor. Under the proposal, seven new stations will be built along the route together with 16 halts and the rail network will also include a shuttle service from JB Sentral in the city centre to Woodlands in Singapore. Among the areas to be covered by the service are Nusajaya along with major developments such as Legoland Theme Park, EduCity, the Johor Premium Outlets and the Senai Hi-Tech Park. The ICCT is expected to start operations by 2013, with total deployment of 19 three-car trains.
“The Johor state government is not the approving authority of the project as it comes under the purview of agencies in Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya,” said Ismail.Johor and Irda supported the proposal by MCN as well as those from other companies as there is demand for the project.
Ismail pointed out that approval of the project had to be given by the Transport Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Economic Planning Unit, the Public-Private Partnership Unit of the Prime Minster’s Department and SPAD. He said more details and review were needed by the approving parties before a decision could be made on the ICCT project to ensure its viability. Ismail said other than supporting the proposal, Irda could not say more on the intercity rail transit network.
“Nevertheless, we noted the high implementation cost for the project while coverage is somewhat limited compared with the other public transport system,” he said. Meanwhile, SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Syed Jaafar Albar had said in September that there was no study conducted on the ICCT project in Iskandar Malaysia. “No study is as good as not having such a project in Iskandar Malaysia, but we always welcome those who are interested to send their proposals to us,” he said.