What do we know about the “new” proposed New MRT line

Some time ago, in August 2009, TRANSIT posted about the Kota Damansara-Cheras LRT/MRT line, which had then been announced by Prasarana.

Our posting “New MRT Line” aimed to summarize the information that we had at the time about the proposal for a rail line linking Kota Damansara to Cheras. You can see a summary (with updates & speculation) at the end of this post.

That LRT/MRT line has now been absorbed into the government’s proposed Greater KL/Klang Valley MRT network (inspired by MMC-Gamuda). These graphics show the route maps, then and “now.”

This Star Graphic shows the 2008 route proposal for the Kota Damansara - Cheras LRT/MRT line, through Bangsar, KL Sentral & Brickfields. Image courtesy of The Star.
This Star Graphic shows the new proposed routing for the Sg. Buloh to Kajang MRT line, which is expected to bypass Bangsar and KL Sentral. Image courtesy of The Star.

More details after the jump.

According to this article, MRT system aims to boost Klang Valley’s public transportation (The Star, 21 December 2010), traffic planner Goh Bok Yen is supportive of the Sg. Buloh – Kajang alignment to start the MRT project.

“This line creates a link with matured and established commercial areas like Mutiara Damansara, 1-Utama and Cheras.

“Sungai Buloh will have a huge development in the Rubber Research Institute, which is one of the major projects under the Economic Transformation Programme and the Greater KL.

“Kajang is certainly not to be overlooked too, as the catchment area is huge and also covers the southern part of Cheras.”

Goh also makes a very important comment later on in the piece, saying:

“Of course with just one line, you cannot expect to solve all problems as a project of this scale can only mean more phases to come.

“Bus resources will have to be restructured since the bus routes today are planned without taking the MRT into consideration,” said Goh.

TRANSIT Says:

We have to ask, which bus routes will be rerouted? Who will be responsible for re-routing the bus routes? Will the existing bus companies agree to these changes or will they see the MRT as a source of competition (as they did the LRT) and refuse to cooperate, leaving KL with little or no change at street level?

Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar also expressed some of her concerns about the awarding of the project and the level of cooperation and information sharing between DBKL and others [TRANSIT: like SPAD, MMC-Gamuda, Prasarana, the public, wakil rakyat etc].

“My concern is only the lack of transparency as the public and all stakeholders should be adequately informed.

“During the public transportation workshop held by DBKL this year, there was no mention about the MRT [network] at all. [TRANSIT: Although SPAD did mention their own proposed MRT line in this corridor, there was no mention of this proposed MRT network – even though the Cabinet had already seen the MCC-Gamuda proposal in February 2010.]

“SPAD, as the supervising body, should have the power over the different phases of decisions made,” she said.

TRANSIT Says:

We actually believe that SPAD, Prasarana and DBKL should set up a completely new agency that will take over the responsibility for project management for the MRT network and at the same time, take over public transport planning, management and operations in the entire Klang Valley. We propose that this agency be named Rapid(for)KL. More importantly, we believe that MMC-Gamuda’s participation should be limited to contract works only.

Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai proposes that a facilitator committee be set up to help manage communications between the project manager and the public. TRANSIT believes that our proposed “Rapid(for)KL” Agency can fulfill this role and start by managing the public face of the MRT project.

That is what we think now. You can see what we wrote in our August 2009 posting in the quote below. Clearly marked “update” flags will show what we know about the updated line.

General Expectations

  • Be a project in the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) from 2010-2014;
  • Extend from Kota Damansara to Plaza Phoenix in Cheras; UPDATE – will extend from Sg. Buloh KTM Komuter station to Kajang KTM Komuter station!
  • Cost approximately RM25 billion (according to current plans); UPDATE – The MRT network is projected to cost RM36 billion or more. We do not yet know how much this line will cost!
  • Start serious planning and design works in 2010-2011; UPDATE – Planning & Design works have to start yesterday in order to keep with the 3-month public display requirement plus planning challenges, and even then (see below)…
  • Start construction in 2012 with completion targeted for 4-5 years. UPDATE- The PM wants construction to start in July 2011. We have no idea how this will be possible based on the tight time frame and existing track records!

Operations

  • Follow TNB, road and river allowances wherever possible to cut costs; UPDATE – Likely to continue, but there may be added tunneling!
  • All public areas of the stations (including concourses, platforms and outside areas) to be fully accessible;
  • Operate in a tunnel along Jalan Tun Sambanthan (from the Brickfields YMCA) and through KL, a distance of 5.9km. UPDATE – it is very likely that the line will not run through Bangsar or Brickfields and will instead run directly into KL, possibly via Jalan Parlimen or further north!
  • Have an initial capacity of approximately 45,000 passengers per direction per hour;

Integration & Connectivity

  • The line will probably be extended from Kota Damansara to Sg. Buloh (allowing ‘integration’ with KTM Komuter service and the Sg. Buloh Integrated Transport Terminal); UPDATE – The MRT will indeed be extended to these KTM Komuter stations!
  • The line will connect to the Kelana Jaya line with a direct transfer at Bangsar Station as well as a less direct connection at the NU Sentral project; UPDATE – at this time we do not know where the connections with the existing LRT lines will be!
  • There may or may not be a link between the line and the Kelana Jaya LRT at Pasar Seni and Masjid Jamek.
  • The line will connect to the KL Monorail at NU Sentral, with another less direct connection at Imbi station; UPDATE – We are no longer sure about this!
  • The line will connect to the Ampang LRT, probably at Maluri station.

Routing

  • Operate mostly elevated with a 5.9km tunnel along Jalan Tun Sambanthan in Brickfields (from the YMCA) and through the centre of KL and the Golden Triangle; UPDATE – The latest DBKL Master Plan suggests that the line will run directly into KL rather than via KL Sentral/NU Sentral!
  • From Sg. Buloh and Kota Damansara to Petaling Jaya the line will be elevated. It will follow Persiaran Surian to Mutiara Damansara.  Then it will follow the LDP to Bandar Utama and Taman Tun Dr. Ismail. From TTDI, the line will follow the Sprint Highway to Pusat Bandar Damansara;
  • From Pusat Bandar Damansara the line will likely follow Jalan Ma’arof in Bangsar, Jalan Tun Sambanthan in Brickfields, and Jalan Raja Chulan in KL; UPDATE – This routing is likely to change!
  • The current proposal is to have the tunnel start at the Brickfields YMCA but it may be necessary to tunnel through Bangsar given the hilly topography and the fact that this area is more residential (not to mention, “upscale”). Of course, the costs of construction and land acquisition will be significantly increased; UPDATE – As above, this might change given the possibility of directly entering KL from the west!
  • The line will have a station at the NU Sentral project but will not be directly connected to KL Sentral. UDPATE – This may not be happening given the possibility of changes to the routing as described above!

By the way, if the MRT line does not go through NU Sentral, will the company have the right to protest to Prime Minister Najib, who clearly stated at the launching of NU Sentral that the MRT would pass through the site?

More importantly, how will Prasarana be able to push this project forward in 7 months? They need to have a 3 month public display period, and start arranging contracts for the 9 packages that the MRT network will be divided into.

Can they accomplish this before July 2011? Well, think back to September 2009, when Prasarana began the public display for the Kelana Jaya and Ampang LRT extensions. At that time, Prasarana MD Idrose Mohamed stated that construction could start as early as April 2010 (7 months in the future).

It is now the end of 2010 and construction has been limited to minor pre-construction works. The bulk of the project has not started in earnest and contractors were only appointed in November 2010.

So let’s be honest – based on the ‘track record’ how can Prasarana and MMC-Gamuda plan for the line, complete the public display period, deal with objections, tender contracts, and start construction in only 7 months?

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11 thoughts on “What do we know about the “new” proposed New MRT line”

  1. You seems very negative to this MRT project. Do you really think KL don’t need MRT? Do you think BRT is more than enough to the needs of transportation in KL?

    1. @Globetrekker, we are very negative about projects proposals that change year by year, that are rushed through without public consultation, and which attempt to capture the attention of the public to distract them from the fact that the bus system is in shambles.

      We believe that a reliable, complete, frequent network of buses must be in place before investment in mass-transit is economically sensible.

      We agree that there is a need for an LRT or MRT line from Kota Damansara to Cheras. This line is part of the KL Structure Plan and all of the proposed MRT networks.

      More importantly, we know that there are multiple buses from Kota Damansara and Cheras to KL. These buses are quite busy and packed – meaning that there is a significant demand for public transport along these corridors.

      Similarly, the Federal Highway corridor has buses from 4 different companies, with at least 7 routes from RapidKL alone. The number and frequency of these buses makes it clear that the Federal Highway has the potential to be a viable BRT corridor.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  2. The goverment should at least do proper study on how to improve the existing bus service & BRT / or any bus service utilising highways first.(as from my point of view, it will cost less and can be implemented in short & faster time).
    Give more budget to improve KTM Komuter.

  3. Dear Globetrekker,

    Sometimes, I wonder Malaysia is being poked fun of when orders of public vehicles arrived from their foreign destinations. I have heard of bus coaches that had given so many technical problems to the authorities, a submarine that made us so proud but eventually had diving failure or jet planes that didn’t meet up with its criteria and so what have we going to get in the coming future. If we follow Singapore’s footsteps in her so highly advanced impressive MRT, we may not be getting the similar technical advice as her unless we include her expertise in some form or rather, we would be poked fun of with unexpected technical failures in the long run. How would Singapore let us go away if our MRT is more advanced than hers. Even if Singapore tends to “let us get away with it”, it is still impossible for us to get the best technical advice because we are but only a country that still has and want to rely on Singapore’s
    Financial Hub for our everyday’s economy and it seem to be unavoidable to let them direct us to seek the assistant of the big powers. I don’t know why Malaysia is so fond of competing with Singapore. As you globetrekked, I am sure you should have been to countries that are just moderately known but gradually progressing and living happily with healthy lifestyles. For example, I have heard life is good at Christmas Island or some countries that are not in competition with who should be first in the worldly economic list. There are so many hidden countries obscured about their economy fate, yet they are doing alright without heartaches. For example, sometimes I wonder what my father’s former pen-pal is doing in Belgium, a country that we Malaysians seldom heard news about although I am sure it is very developed knowing many countries in Europe that lack the present – Singapore Shine? Sometimes I feel we need not have to suffer so much just to be competitive as we are only diminishing our resources unnecessarily to the materialistic opporturnitists.

    Moaz, I would like to thank you again for the bus information.

  4. I completely agree with the fact a more adequate and well planned bus service line should be in place first prior to a large scale MRT/LRT/BRT. I’m now in Halifax, Canada. Even though the size of the municipality(only a mere 400K – 500K ppl), doesn’t warrant it to have a LRT like system, its bus systems are well planned, sufficiently efficient by Malaysian standards (far better than KL any time) and passenger friendly (cater for all walks of life – old folks, disable friendly & parents with babies). I believe a significant level of planning took place as routes were clearly plan properly. Take for example bus route no. 33 though infrequent, passes through most old-folks home (manor) every 2 days to get olk-folks access to public transportation. To top it out route are also planned with logistics and resource usage. For example the most popular route, route no. 1 passes is frequent and comes by every 15min – thus has about 4-5 busses – each are 2 with 2 carriages and currently have been replaced with a energy efficient bus (just rolled out this summer – touted to be more green and less pollutant). Malaysia especially Klang valley municipalities/ city services along with the private bodies that manages this services should advance considerable at level first even before thinking of advancing to LRT/MRT.
    That’s my honest believe….

  5. Moaz,
    How to make Phillip splendid voice overwhelmingly heard by the public? So, we now have another destination other than Curitiba where we can look forward to for planning and restructuring and these wonderful implementations of Halifax is given by someone that has such caring concerns for Lembah Klang which as it is now not even anywhere near any of his descriptions. May I thank you for such beneficial public information as well as your honest beliefs, Phillip. Thanks with hopes always, Kt Sam.

  6. Did the authority ever consider the ideal proximity between houses and rail track (taman Esplanad, bukit Jalil) Did the authority ever learned from past mistakes? Did the authority ever hear and listen to public voices? …. I am in favor of rail track expansion but all I request is divert the rail track to opposite river instead of passing by the houses just 15m away! Did anyone hear me? Can anyone help me?

    1. Hi Gary.

      TRANSIT is really sorry to hear that your concerns around the LRT extension still have not been resolved and communicated to the residents. We will remind the Selangor EXCO about the issues with the LRT in your area as well as the problem with not having proper, clear guidelines for building rail transport next to residential areas.

      We do know that SPAD seems to have adopted a minimum distance of 6m from properties – this is an improvement over the Department of Railways claim that no such minimum distance exists for LRT (the 6m is for “rail” projects).

      We are hoping that we can get more support and feedback and information to the authorities in Selangor.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  7. Whether MRT is going to be intergrated with NU Sentral, or the facilities is going to be a big different from the present LRT and blah blah blah, I think we are wasting our breath, these arrogant, simple minded, self centred and greedy government officials will take our words for nothing. The worst thing is they will eventually act according to those so called the words of expert from the Economy Planning Unit of Prime Minister Department that created the unequal, one-sided and unjustified highway/expressway consortium agreement that raise their toll rate once in two years that only benefits and give the perks all the greedy and inhumane shareholders of PLUS Berhad. And the rest of the Malaysians have to pay the highway toll rate like hell until the day they die/cannot drive a car anymore.

  8. I think Jeffrey is correct about wasting our breath part, I think talking to a wall is way much better than talking to those Malaysian government officials. At least, you get some echos.

    1. @Jeffery, @Lily

      Thanks for your comments. Frankly, sometimes we feel the frustration and the idea that we are wasting our breath and wasting our time – but those feelings are quickly overwhelmed by the fact that we have done what we wanted to do – we wanted to get more people to understand and appreciate public transport culture and good public transport.

      That is why we need the continuous support of the public. It is only through the court of public action (not public opinion) that the problems that are undermining Malaysian society and the Malaysian economy, brought about by politics, corruption, sweetheart deals and inequality, can be undone.

      Of course, this extends far beyond public transport-related issues. For every one person who is looking out for themselves only, there are many who are looking out for the Rakyat. We just need to give them a chance to unite with one voice and let those voices speak out with the sound of thunder.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

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