TRANSIT noted this article in which the Johor Menteri Besar Abdul Ghani Othman comments on future plans for Kempas as a railway hub in southern Malaysia.
Kempas, for those of you who do not know, is the interchange where the spur lines to the ports of Tanjung Pelapas and Pasir Gudang meet the main railway lines.
Kempas will be an important hub for future “Komuter” services in the Iskandar Region as well as a link to intercity services (including future high-speed rail links).
However, TRANSIT is concerned that the government has already spent a significant amount of money to build the Johor Baru Sentral rail complex, which presumably will have a Mass-Rapid Transit link to Singapore.
Alternatively, perhaps the “Komuter Selatan” service will specifically serve the Iskandar region, while KTM is responsible for connections northwards and the Singapore government is responsible for connections into / with Singapore.
Kempas to be site of railway’s southern hub
By Ben Tan
WITH the impending relocation of the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) railway station from Woodlands, Singapore, to Malaysia, the state government has allocated 80.9ha in Kempas for the purpose.
Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman said the plan was based on the 1990 Points of Agreement between Malaysia and Singapore. Singapore would develop a high-speed mass rail transit (MRT) hub in Woodlands.
“We will have to move the KTMB train station in Woodlands to Kempas for that purpose,” he said in reply to questions from Tan Cher Puk (BN-Johor Jaya), Jaafar Hashim (BN-Senggarang) and Lau Chin Hoon (BN-Pemanis).
Ghani said with KTMB’s move to Kempas in place, both countries could focus on upgrading their transportation systems, culminating in Singapore’s MRT system being connected with Iskandar Malaysia’s planned vast rapid transit (VRT).
[TRANSIT: “Vast” Rapid Transit? What is the point of such a name? It will only cause confusion, and you know that we do not need more confusion – of any kind – in Malaysia.]
“Singapore’s underground MRT system in Woodlands will be connected with our VRT system in Johor Baru.”
He said the VRT system would initially have three routes.
This will pave the way for the development of the KTMB land in Kempas into a southern rail hub similar to KL Sentral in Kuala Lumpur.
[TRANSIT: Then why do we need to have the recently-opened JB Sentral with its 6 platforms????]
Ghani said the KTMB railway issue was a priority as it had been pending for the past 20 years and needed a “win-win” settlement for both parties.
As you can imagine, we are frankly quite surprised that the Malaysian government and Johor Menteri Besar are sending what appears to be mixed messages about the future of public transport in the Iskandar Development Region.
It is especially interesting because TRANSIT is supporting the development of a Masterplan for the Iskandar region – but at the same time, we wonder who is actually making the plans.
As above, a “Komuter Selatan” service for the Iskandar Region, with two hubs at Kempas Sentral and JB Sentral would be a relatively wise way to introduce proper public transport to the region, which currently relies on a semi-reliable network of frequent and infrequent buses.
Presumably, KTMB could operate intercity trains from JB Sentral with a stop at Kempas Sentral, while an arm of the Iskandar Regional Development Authority would be responsible for the “Komuter Selatan” service.
Komuter Selatan could run multiple trains into JB Sentral which would cover a significant number of the commuters coming into JB city centre.
However, there would be a problem with the commuters who intend to further their journey into Singapore – would the MRT link between JB and Singapore have the capacity to accommodate the thousands who would cross the border daily – especially during peak hours?