Abang Jo: RM10.8 billion LRT system ready by 2024, with three lines

Abang Johari speaks to reporters about the three routes for the state's proposed LRT project. Also seen are (from left) Deputy Chief Ministers Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, Tan Sri Dr James Masing, and Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.

KUCHING, March 29: The state government through its proposed Government Linked Company (GLC) will be earning revenues from rent of commercial activities along the proposed routes and stations of the state’s proposed Light Rail Transport (LRT) system through the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) method to help fund the RM10.8 billion project.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg at a press conference today revealed the proposed routes for the state’s first LRT system, saying although fare charges would be used as a revenue source to fund the project, it would not be enough.

“The project will be funded through the Development Bank of Sarawak (DBoS). There are three ways to get revenue. Firstly is from the fares, but that alone won’t be much. Secondly from the real estate, developed through what we called Transit Oriented Development (TOD) because we have to develop those areas around the routes and stations.

“Thirdly, from commercial activities at the stations or main transit points, we can get rent from facilities owned by a proposed entity or GLC called Sarawak Metro. So we have those revenues to finance this project in the long run.

“This principle is similar to Hong Kong. So the moment we become a developed country by 2030, this is the best approach we have to take to improve our public transport,” he said.

The overall map of the proposed LRT lines.

Earlier, Abang Johari revealed the proposed three lines for the LRT project.

He said the first line would be the Kota Samarahan-Sungai Batu, Damai line which detailed studies had shown that it would cover about 48 per cent of the current travel demands of Kuching City. The line, he added, would be 62.4km long with 28 stations along the way.

“The line will start at Rembus in Kota Samarahan where the depot is proposed, and would end at Damai via Sungai Batu,” he said.

The second line, Abang Johari revealed, would be the Serian-Senari line, which would start at Serian via Siburan, and would end at Senari.

He said this line would have an interchange station with Kota Samarahan-Damai at the Simpang Tiga Roundabout.

“This route would cover about 30 per cent of current travel demand for Kuching City, and is approximately 82km long with 26 stations,” he said.

The third line would be the City Dispersal Line and would be about 10.8km long with 13 stations. This line, Abang Johari said, would be an at-grade tram system which would better navigate urban streets, have less intrusive stops and integrate well into the concept of a pedestrian-friendly urban landscape.

Abang Johari (second right) takes a closer look at the map showing the three proposed routes for the state’s first LRT project. Also seen are (from left) Deputy Chief Ministers Tan Sri James Masing, Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, and Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.

A press statement from the LRT project’s main contractor Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) stated that the first line called the Damai Line — from Muara Tuang to Damai — covering some 59.7km would traverse through Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), Riveria, Simpang Tiga, Hikmah Exchange, Hospital Petrajaya, Bandar Baru Samariang, Sentoria, Sungai Batu and Damai Central.

The second line called the Serian Line — from Serian to Muara Tebas — covering a distance of 84.02km, would traverse through Baki, Tapah, Siburan, Penrissen, Kota Padawan, Kuching International Airport, Tabuan, Simpang Tiga, Pending, Demak Laut, Bako and Muara Tebas.

The third line called the Kuching City Line would be a city dispersal line with a length of approximately 11km. It would traverse through Hikmah Exchange, Waterfront, UTC, Jalan Abel, Padungan Central, Tanah Putih, the Tun Salahuddin Bridge, Darul Hana, Wisma Bapa Malaysia and Medan Raya.

On other aspects of the LRT project, Abang Johari revealed that each LRT line was expected to create a total of 20,919 jobs once fully operational. The first line would create some 8,679 jobs, the second 10,420 jobs and the third 1,820 jobs.

He added that the feasibility studies done since last year showed that there were four major population centres in the state with the largest being Kuching. Greater Kuching, which includes the divisions of Samarahan and Serian, was estimated to have a population of 908,400 where out of that 700,300 people would be from Kuching City proper, 109,100 in Samarahan and 99,000 in Serian.

Based on the Kuching Urban Transport Study, Abang Johari said it was estimated that travelling by rail from major developed areas within Kuching district to the city centre could be achieved within 30 minutes.

“Travelling from Kota Samarahan to Kuching by rail would take 50 minutes as compared to travelling by road which takes 90 minutes during peak hour — a saving of 40 minutes per trip,” he said.

In green is the proposed Kuching Dispersal Line.

Abang Johari revealed that the feasibility studies forecasted that once the LRT system is completed in 2024, daily ridership of the Kota Samarahan-Damai line is expected at 70,451 pax per day, Serian-Senari line at 63,035 and the City Dispersal Line at 11,099.

For the year 2034, it was forecasted that the Kota Samarahan-Damai line would have about 182,579 ridership per day, Serian-Senari 160,057 and the City Dispersal Line 24,859.

“The LRT envisages realising efficient mobility in Kuching, creating economic opportunities, enabling trade and facilitating access to markets and services.

“At the same time, it will help transform Kuching into a more dynamic and competitive city, as well as create more jobs. Besides, the LRT will traverse and link dense residential areas, businesses, industrial areas, tourist hotspots and new transit oriented developments (TODs), thus driving the economic development in Kuching.

“The TOD along the corridor will be examined and incorporated in line with state development plans,” he said.

On the proposed plan to use hydrogen fuel cells to power the trains, Abang Johari said this would be the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way for the state’s future public transport system as it relies on a renewable source.

He said this technology was new to the rail industry and was anticipated to be the first of its kind to be implemented in this region when incorporated in the state’s LRT system.

“The train, which will gain its power from hydrogen, produced through water electrolysis combined with an external oxygen supply, will feature a motor that is impressive in both energy conversion and energy efficiency. The train is environmentally friendly as it utilises hydrogen with the by-products of only water and steam.

“These hydrogen powered trains can travel at speeds of 70km/h to 140km/h with a range of 800km. Each train will have a three-car configuration and can carry up to 340 passengers,” said Abang Johari.

He said technology advancements in hydrogen fuel cell were expected to improve the range and capacity of the trains in the coming years.

He added that the use of hydrogen fuel cell trains would not only reduce costs and be environmentally friendly, but it is also in line with the state government’s vision to develop a hydrogen economy as part of the state’s green initiative, thereby generating economic benefits for the people of Sarawak. — DayakDaily