ART prototype unit arrives in Kuching

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Abdul Aziz (eight right) and those present pose for a group photograph with the prototype unit in the background.

KUCHING (Aug 5): Sarawak is a step closer towards its drive in modernising its public transportation with the arrival of the prototype unity of the Autonomous Rapid Transit (ART) hydrogen vehicle today.

According to a statement from Sarawak Metro Sdn Bhd, the hydrogen-powered ART arrived at Senari Terminal onboard the HF Spirit vessel which berthed at around 8am after a journey of over two weeks from Shanghai Port.

On hand to witness the historic arrival of the vehicle was Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Abdul Aziz Husain.

Describing this historic moment as another milestone for Sarawak Metro, Abdul Aziz said the arrival of the prototype unit signified that Sarawak was a step closer towards realising the Kuching Urban Transformation System (KUTS) project.

“This is also another milestone for the government in its efforts to transform Sarawak into an advanced economy by 2030,” he said, adding that a modern public transport system is vital for the state’s development.

Abdul Aziz, who is also chairman of Sarawak Metro, expressed confidence that once the ART starts its operation in two years time, Kuching’s socio-economic landscape will be significantly transformed as envisioned by the Sarawak’s top leaders.

“This project will definitely be a game changer for the state’s economic landscape,” he said.

The shipment comprised of a three-car set that will be assembled prior to the engineering run and the proof-of-concept (POC) exercise, and the assembly work is expected to complete within two weeks.

The assembly work includes fitting the gangway, which will be carried out by the technical crew from CRRC Zhuzhou Institute Co. Ltd together with engineers and technicians from Sarawak Metro.

Once assembled, the ART will undergo the engineering run for two months, starting Sept 1.

“This engineering run is important for us to refine the specification of the ART and also to identify any potential issues before we start with the POC exercise,” explained Abdul Aziz.

The engineering run will be conducted at the Isthmus area while the POC exercise will be held in November, along a section of the Kuching Samarahan Expressway.

The site for the POC exercise is a 3km lane built between two roundabouts that have been converted into smart traffic light junctions.

This stretch will be part of the permanent dedicated lane built for the ART Blue Line alignment.

“The POC exercise is for us to collect data to evaluate the feasibility of the prototype for the final design of the vehicle.

“During the engineering run and the POC exercise, the ART will mostly not carry any passengers. Rides on this prototype ART will only be held at certain times, and this is by invitation only and for selected stakeholders,” he explained again.

Meanwhile, passenger service for the ART will commence in stages – starting in the fourth quarter of 2025, with the Blue Line that runs from Rembus in Kota Samarahan to Hikmah Exchange in the centre of Kuching city.

Apart from the Blue Line, two other lines will be built under Phase 1 of the KUTS project; the Red Line (from Kuching Sentral to Pending) and the Green Line (from Pending to Damai Central).

Phase 1 of the KUTS project is schedule to be completed by 2027.

To complement the ART service will be the feeder bus network that will provide the first mile and last mile connectivity for KUTS.

Both the ART vehicles and the feeder buses for the KUTS Project are zero-emission vehicles powered by hydrogen.

Among those present at Senari Terminal to witness the arrival of the prototype ART hydrogen vehicle were Deputy State Secretary (Economic Planning and Development) Datu Dr Muhammad Abdullah Zaidel, Ministry of Transport Sarawak deputy permanent secretary Selamat Jati Yanjah, Kuching Port Authority (KPA) chairman Dato Awang Bemee  Pengiran Ali Basah, KPA general manager Robert Lau, SEDC general manager Datu Abdul Hadi Kadir and Sarawak Metro chief executive officer Mazli Mustaffa as well as representatives from EMG JV Sdn Bhd, the Systems Package 1 contractor for Phase 1 of the KUTS project.