Yes, MRT was mulled in previous studies – as Komuter, that is!

TRANSIT wish to comment, albeit a bit late, on news that PJ residents demand to be served by a new MRT line. It seems that the MRT project announcement has opened a can of worms – since the project was touted as the main public transportation backbone of Greater KL that will make you and me take the transit in one of two trips made (50% modal share target by 2020 as touted by Idris Jala), everyone seems to be wanting the multibillion dollar MRT line to serve their areas (and some demand it underground – without questioning how the general taxpayers (read: those who work/live more than 10mins walk from the station) can be shielded from absorbing the gigantic cost!).

Since ALL taxpayers will bear the multibillion MRT bill... why not new rail system for MRR2... or Penang... or other cities?

Selangor group wants PJ South MRT link (The Malaysian Insider)
March 09, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 — The Selangor Petaling Business and Industry Association is requesting that the government consider Petaling Jaya South in the RM43 billion Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project.

Based on the original proposal, residents in Petaling Jaya may not benefit from the MRT project immediately as there were no MRT lines or stations slated for the Petaling Jaya South area.

“For example, Taman Medan, Taman Maju Jaya and Taman Seri Manja have been left out of the limelight although the area is densely populated,” its deputy president Tee Kee Tian said in a statement today.

Tee said Petaling Jaya South provided a very important linkage between Subang Jaya and Sunway via Sungei Way.

“We hope the government can take into account the people’s feedback and suggestions, and review the alignment of the MRT to include some stations in Petaling Jaya south so that more people can enjoy the convenience of the mega project,” he added.

The government recently disclosed details of the Sungai Buloh-Kajang line and the 51 kilometre line should bring massive economic benefit and employment opportunities. — Bernama

TRANSIT Says:

We can’t blame the people for demanding their rights – that the multibillion ringgit MRT project will have to benefit them. After all SPAD said the project is fully funded by the government (and there is no plan on Hong Kong MTR-like SPV for real property value capture from Transit-Oriented Development for each of the 35 stations including those surrounded by ultra low density posh villas with multiple BMWs… wow!).

We are upset at the way the government has been packaging its efforts in improving public transport. First, MRT is not everything (but it was positioned as if it is the only thing that needs action, planning and deliberation NOW). Secondly, there has been no study to properly validate that the SBK MRT line is necessary.

TRANSIT wonders how the public, wakil rakyat & media can simpy accept MRT without asking serious questions about WHY and asking for evidence & proof that it is necessary – this for the largest, most expensive infrastructure megaproject the country has ever known!

But wait, SPAD insisted that MRT was in the previous studies (often as LRTs in a lot of our structure plans that are in contrast with basic transport planning principles, and do not make sense at all).

We need MRT, they said. It has always been in our plans. They said.

Well we did dive into Klang Valley’s first ever transportation study in 1986 commissioned by the Government of Malaysia (with guidance from Japan’s JICA) and indeed, the present KTM Komuter lines WERE the planned MRT lines (black lines with white bubbles) !

So, folks in PJ, demand your rights – the present, snail-paced, suck-journeyed KTM Komuter service has the full MRT potential if the signaling and track is upgraded to allow 8 single deck or 6 double deck carriage trains to operate with 2 minutes headway!

Klang Valley's first ever Transportation Study (1986) which proposed a comprehensive MRT network by 2005 (Click to enlarge)
The alignments of the proposed MRT for 2005 exactly follows the present KTM Komuter lines (Click to enlarge)

Yes, ladies & gentlemen – the original plan for our Klang Valley rail network was Electric Multiple Unit train service running on double track throughout the Klang Valley – including service to Ampang and Subang Airport.

One efficient, low-cost MRT system with one type of train – therefore, integrated & interchangeable – instead of the inefficient Komuter + LRT + LRT + ERL + Monorail ‘system’ that we have today – non-integrated services using 5 separate technologies (6 if you count the MRT), capacities, training requirements, etc.

The change between the system that we were could have had and the ‘system’ that we have today probably happened in 3 parts.

First the Ampang railway subdivision was isolated from the main railway and in the 1960s the Sultan station (located at the KL end of the Ampang railway sub) was demolished.

In 1990 someone convinced the government that we could not afford anything more than a basic komuter system with stairs, corrugated metal walkway coverings that did not cover the platforms, and small station buildings – as well as a smaller fleet of trains.

At the same time, someone also convinced the government that we needed LRT rather than Komuter – and got the government to give over the Ampang Railway subdivision (which ran from Kuala Lumpur railway station to Ampang) to the new LRT company, Sistem Transit Aliran Ringan Bhd (STAR) rather than being reconnected to the mainline (which would have been an option).

And in 1991, the Railways Act made it easy for a railway builder to build a railway in Malaysia – with the simple act of making their proposal or ‘railway scheme’ public for 3 months (public display) including a map of the proposed route, list of lots affected by the proposal, plan for acquisition of land less than 6m from the railway line (the minimum 6m setback) and finally, a feedback book or logbook.

That, interestingly enough, is a part of our heritage.

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8 thoughts on “Yes, MRT was mulled in previous studies – as Komuter, that is!”

  1. I don’t get it. 1986 is like before komuter as I am not sure as to when KTM commuter was conceptualized and designed. But it is definitely some time around 1990. So, What are you suggesting? The current plan is basically a plan following the old plan which was actually a plan for the KTM commuter, which never really materialize or did, in the form that STAR LRT runs part of the Ampang spur line. KTM commuter at that time was to be classified as an MRT, and because of that KTM commuter is apparently an MRT.

    It would be really helpful if the pics for this post is reupload in a higher resolution as the legend is a bit vague. As I can bearly read it.

    1. Hi Bob Dylan

      Rapid Transit solutions for the Klang Valley were being planned as early as the mid 1980s, which is well before Komuter.

      At that time, the plan was to introduce a “Komuter” system by electrifying and double-tracking the railways around the Klang Valley. If the plan had been followed then, we would have ‘Komuter’ services as we do now, but earlier, as well as ‘Komuter services’ to Ampang and Subang Airport (which we do not have now).

      The big change in the plan came when the proposal for the STAR LRT was put forward, probably just after the government had accepted the Komuter proposal.

      As you know, the STAR LRT used the Ampang Railway subdivision from Puduraya eastwards and introduced the 3rd rail power system and 1435mm railway gauge. Aside from the speed & stability advantages, replacing the 1000m gauge railway with 1435mm gauge railway (as opposed to dual gauge) meant that the STAR LRT had exclusive right-of-way and KTM Komuter could not compete.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  2. I told you before, our “efficient” and “smart” government with tonnes of so called the “experts” will come up many “Malaysia Boleh Accomplishments/Achievements” along the way in LRT extension and MRT project. Just wait and see, you will be very “SURPRISED”. THe government SUPRISING MAGIC SHOW IS ABSOLUTELY better than David Copperfield, Liu Qian (China), Cyril Takayama (America/Japan) magic shows/tricks. After we (the rakyat) provided so many advices/suggestions/opinions on public transport issues through various channels of mass media, I wonder is the government deaf or too retarded to understand/listen/heed it?? Or is it pure crony reasons??

  3. @moaz

    thanks.

    I finally get it. So they actually planned to have a kommuter system that was just like MRT in the sense it is more integrated as compared to the current system.

    In that case, it’s a shame that they didn’t follow up with the original plan. It would be much easier to manage a single system, than to juggle multiple systems.

    1. That’s what we saw from the original plans.

      It would be easy to say that they had planned an “MRT” system like Singapore’s to be built by 2005 but realistically with the distances involved, MRT would not be a good option.

      People have to remember that MRT is not for long-distance commute-style trips – it is best suited for local trips, perhaps 5-10 stations, along densely populated corridors.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  4. Hi

    I have just thought up a solution so that KTM some passengers can perceive that KTM is improving their komuter service.

    First of all, we know that some people on weekends and fridays, use Komuter to travel to Mid Valley from KL Sentral. If suppose KTM were to create a special service in which a dedicated EMU be made to travel back and forth between Mid Valley and KL Sentral this will improve the perception of frequency for komuter trains.

    At KL Sentral, there are 4 platforms are used for komuter service, However at present, the komuter on normal service would never need more than 2. Examples would be putra station, bank negara station and also kl station which only has 2 platforms for komuter to operate during normal operations. Therefore, I suggest that instead of the current system, in which trains are separated according to where they are bound, 1 of the extra platform is re allocated for a special EMU. This EMU will function as the one stop shuttle to Mid Valley.

    Assuming turnaround at mid valley to be 2-3 minutes and the journey time 5-7 minutes. This would mean that it would take more or less 12-17 minutes for this particular EMU to make a return journey. This would mean that this EMU will be able to make 4 trips per hour.

    And combine this with normal KTM frequency which is 2-4 trains an hour towards the Seremban direction. It would mean 6-8 trips.This would significantly improve the current situation.

    Also, should 2 EMUs be used then the trips per hour would sky rocket to 10-12 trips. Which would enable commuters to experience a wait time of no more than 5 minutes.

    However, since KTM does not really release statistic as to travel journey of passengers. I am not really in a position to say wether this is feasible. However judging by the usual crowd at KL Sentral and Mid Valley. I would say this proposal has potential. And let us not forget that KL Sentral is connected to other rail based transport which may feed this system.

    As to how to get the extra trains, well since they KTMB usually do not run all their trains on weekend. I suppose they have spare train resting in their depot somewhere during weekend. It would be much better if these EMUs are put to better use.

    @Moaz
    what do you think? feasible or cancerous?

    1. @Bob Dylan

      Thank you for the information – we will upload it to the post and get some analysis going.

      Taking a quick look and we see that all the red lines represent the lines proposed in the Klang Valley Transportation Study while the solid red lines represent the Komuter lines actually built.

      It gives a good idea of the original plan and how it was downgraded when Komuter was built.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

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