Malaysia

Government goes with Prasarana to operate Sg Buloh-Kajang MRT line

Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd (Prasarana) will be the operator of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line 1, the government has announced.

In a statement released by the Ministry of Finance, it was also confirmed that Mass Rapid Transit Corp Sdn Bhd (MRT Co) will remain as the owner and developer of the line, Bernama reported today.

This confirmation comes amid recent controversy over which company will be given the licence to operate the MRT, after MRT Co chief executive officer Datuk Wira Azhar Abdul Hamid had last month expressed his interest to be the operator of MRT Line 1.

In stating his intentions, Azhar had claimed it would help promote competition and deliver the best world-class public rail transport services in the Klang Valley.

This went against initial plans by Putrajaya for MRT Line 1 to be operated by government-asset owner Prasarana, through its subsidiary Rapid Rail Sdn Bhd.

Rapid Rail currently operates the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and monorail systems in the Klang Valley under the RapidKL brand and are now scheduled to be operating MRT Line 1 by the end of 2017.

In response to Azhar's remarks last month, Rapid Rail chief executive officer Khairani Mohamed said allowing MRT Co to operate the new public transportation service would not be in the best interest of the country and the industry.

"We should always look at history, which is the best teacher. Our three light rail networks started off with three different operators – STAR LRT, PUTRA LRT and KL Monorail. All three were unable to cover their operation costs, resulting in the takeover by Prasarana,” he had said.

Referring to Hong Kong, Khairaini (pic) said it is one of the most efficient rail operators in the world yet they have converted to a single operator with the merger of the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation and the Mass Transit Railway Corporation in 2007.

He had further justified his argument by saying that it would cost MRT Co more to operate the line as they did not have the ready expertise, unlike Rapid Rail.

“We have a ready pool of resources and our Rail Academy is training resources from overseas. We already have the local talent development framework to sustain rail operations and we need to nurture these local talents as we march towards k-economy.

"As RapidKL already has engineers and trainers to do the job, why does the government need to incur more cost?," Khairani had said.

“Besides that, rail alone does not provide the connectivity. They can be the backbone, but they would need feeder buses to support their operations.

“In RapidKL, we already have all these components in place. That is why I say that RapidKL is the only logical option to operate the MRT. Let MRT Co concentrate on its business of building the infrastructure,” Khairani added. - June 16, 2014.

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