KUCHING (July 20): The world’s first hydrogen-powered smart tram, known in the state as the Autonomous Rapid Transit (ART) vehicle, has departed from its production site in Zhuzhou, Hunan Province, China for Sarawak.
News portal Xinhua reported that the ART prototype will be shipped from the port of Shanghai to Malaysia in the coming days.
After arriving in Malaysia, the prototype will undergo a two-month engineering run at The Isthmus in September and October before beginning its Stage 2 proof of concept (POC) exercise along a short stretch of the Blue Line in Samarahan this November.
The hydrogen-powered smart tram was independently developed by China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Research Institute Co Ltd.
“The smart tram is the first to adopt a hydrogen energy power system, which has the advantages of longer driving range and shorter refuelling time, as well as energy saving and environmental protection,” CRRC said in the Xinhua report.
“It has been upgraded through intelligent design, which is in line with the needs of Malaysia in achieving a zero-emission and intelligent public transport system.”
The smart tram can travel up to 245km in a single charge of hydrogen.
In March, Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Abdul Aziz Husain told reporters other ART vehicles will start arriving in Sarawak in batches of three to four units next year.
In January this year, Abdul Aziz said SEDC Energy will need to produce hydrogen to power the state’s ART system, which comes under Sarawak Metro.
“We will require about two tonnes of hydrogen a day for the ART next year, and we need to ramp this up to five tonnes a day,” he said.
Last week the Ministry of Transport Sarawak said ART operations under Phase 1 are scheduled to commence in stages from the fourth quarter of 2025 up to the fourth quarter of 2027.
Phase 1 of the KUTS project involves the construction of the 27.6km Blue Line, connecting Rembus in Kota Samarahan to Hikmah Exchange in Kuching City Centre.
It also includes the development of the 12.3km Red Line from Kuching Sentral to Pending and the 30km Green Line from Pending to Damai Central.