KUCHING: Johor Chief Minister Datuk Haji Abdul Ghani Othman has approved the proposed RM1.23 billion modern intra-city commuter train service network for Iskandar Malaysia.
According to a press release yesterday, the approval was given to Metropolitan Commuter Network Sdn Bhd (MCN), a joint venture company between KUB Malaysia Bhd and Malaysia Steel Works (KL) Bhd.
The intra-city train service entailed the building of seven new stations and 16 halts connecting all major suburbs in Iskandar Malaysia. The commuter service would cover over 100 kilometres of rail network and serve all major upcoming Tipping Point developments such as the Johor Premium Outlet, Legoland Malaysia, Educity, Hi-Tech Park-Senai, and Lake Hill Resort City.
The project was envisaged to provide a shuttle service from JB Sentral to Woodlands, Singapore. It was forecasted that project would have an annual ridership of over 30 million people, once operational.
Ghani, who is also Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) co-chairman, said the project was in line with the targets set by National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) under the Economic Transformation Plan (ETP) of the government and the Iskandar Malaysia transportation blueprint.
“The commuter service is indeed a timely investment which will coincide with Iskandar Malaysia’s tipping point of 2012 and all major commercial developments are to benefit from the proposed commuter serviced and we expect to unlock the property values along the routes of the rail service,” he said.
IRDA chief executive Ismail Ibrahim said IRDA was also committed to ensure sufficient and efficient feeder bus system is in place to support the proposed intra-city rail service for it to reach its full and optimum capacity to service the commuters.
“While having significant impact in the reduction of traffic in Johor Bahru Commercial Business District (CBD) and Singapore, this initiative will also cut down the emission of green house gases, thus being in tandem with our vision of being environmentally-friendly,” said Ismail.
MCN chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Samad said with this endorsement, MCN was certainly on track towards launching the intra-city commuter train service by 2012, with total deployment of 19 three-car trains by 2013 to serve the rakyat.
“I’m pleased to note that our world-class commuter train service is anticipated to generate gross national income (GNI) of RM1.63 billion over a period of 25 years, and serve as a show case public private partnership (PPP) project in the country.”
Johor Bahru is currently the second most popular destination for visitors in Malaysia, with an estimated 19 million visitors in 2010. The tourism industry in Malaysia was targeted to raise total GNI contribution by RM67 billion to reach RM104 billion by 2020.
The building of the rail transit infrastructure would be funded by MCN and project financing under the PPP scheme.