KUALA LUMPUR (July 12): There were loads of gnashing of teeth as different parties bandied about how much can be slashed from the bill to build the light rail transit 3 (LRT 3) project.
The Star local daily earlier in the week reported that almost RM6 billion can be shaved project if it follows its original design, citing sources.
By going back to the project’s original blueprint, the number of stations will be reduced to 26 and will feature a more linear design that can be expanded later to accommodate more passengers.
The sleeker stations will also help reduce land acquisition costs, the source told the daily.
Later, finance minister Lim Guan Eng said that Putrajaya will not provide additional funding for the LRT3 project unless cost “is significantly rationalised without compromising on the integrity of the rail network as well as the safety and the quality of service provided.”
“Certain news reports have indicated that the LRT3 cost can be reduced by RM6 billion. The Ministry of Finance wishes to state that much more than RM6 billion must be reduced if the LRT3 project is to proceed,” Lim insisted.
“The projected total cost of LRT3 of RM31.45 billion due to poor management by Prasarana Malaysia Bhd requires drastic cost reductions to make the LRT3 feasible and cost-effective.”
And today, the government announced that it has approved the continuation of the project at a final cost of RM16.63 billion.
In a statement today, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the final total cost of the LRT3 project is reduced by 47%, saving Malaysians up to RM15.02 billion.
However, some readers of the Malaysiakini news portal are now worried that service quality may be affected with compromises such as cutting down the order of 42 sets of six-car trains to 22 sets of three-car trains.
"A six-coach train set will be more comfortable to ride in, compared to being packed like a sardine can, like how it is in the Kelana Jaya train-sets with only two coaches. It’s good for future-proofing too.
"There also should be a sufficient amount of train-sets that are on standby for whenever the other train-sets are under maintenance or having issues," a reader said.
"It will be penny-wise but pound-foolish to cut cost just for the sake of cutting cost, but reducing the quality of service that could be provided to the passengers, now and in the future," he added.
Another reader said: "Due to the growing population density in Klang Valley and greater Kuala Lumpur, it is unreasonable to use a three-coach LRT.
"Also, if the LRT stations are made smaller, it will be uncomfortable and turn many commuters off. LRT3 will become like the Kelana Jaya LRT that can't support a large number of commuters.
"Don't repeat the design mistake of the Kelana Jaya LRT".
According to a press release by the minister of finance, among the key steps taken to reduce and rationalise the cost of the project include:
(i) Reducing the order of 42 sets of six-car trains to 22 sets of three-car trains. Based on the feasibility study of the LRT3 project, the 22 sets of three-car trains is more than sufficient to cope with the anticipated passenger demand until the year 2035 before additional three-car trains need to be ordered.
(ii) Reducing the construction size of the LRT train depot due to the significantly reduced number of LRT trains to be acquired.
(iii) Streamlining the size and design of the LRT stations based on Kelana Jaya LRT line standards instead of being benchmarked against the much larger MRT stations.
(iv) Shelving the construction of five stations with very low projected passenger ridership until such a time the demand is deemed necessary for these stations to be built. These provisional stations are Lien Hoe, Temasya, SIRIM, Bukit Raja and Bandar Botanic.
(v) Cancelling an unnecessary 2km tunnel for the LRT together with an underground station at Persiaran Hishamuddin, Shah Alam.
(vi) Extending the timeline to complete the LRT3 project from 2020 to 2024 in order to further reduce construction cost which was inflated due to ‘acceleration costs’ ie to speed up the project incurs additional costs.