Wednesday, March 28, 2007

YTL BULLET TRAIN KL-SINGAPORE Proposal Still Under Consideration Clarifies Transport Minister; YTL Confirms Work on the Sentul-Batu Caves Project Only

UPDATE: MAR 29 2007

This is all double talk by the DPM on the feasibility study. The proposal was mooted way back in July 2006 and the PM has already suggested a formal proposal be submitted and when a proposal is given all the feasibility study has been done. Maybe an EIA study is needed. Perhaps the stumbling block and delay is how the train crosses the causeway. The government would want it to use the new bridge rather another simple link.

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March 28, 2007 20:05 PM

Private Sector To Develop, Finance KL-S'pore Bullet Train

KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 (Bernama) -- The bullet train linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore is likely to be developed and financed by the private sector, said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.(ABOVE) The Deputy Prime Minister said the YTL Group which had proposed the project had to carry out the feasibility study and submit the findings to the government for consideration. He said the Transport Ministry and YTL Group were asked by the Cabinet last week to discuss the proposal which included its feasibility and the capability of the company to finance it. "This is a private initiative, so it is up to them (the company) to study the feasibility of the project for the government's consideration.

"I am not sure to what extent they (the company) need the government's support," he told reporters when asked on the status of the high-speed train project. Earlier, Najib delivered a keynote address at the Global Islamic Finance Forum here. In the Dewan Rakyat Tuesday, Johor Baharu Member of Parliament Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad questioned the significance of the project and compared it to the Rawang-Ipoh double-track railway electrification project. Asked about the decision on the project, Najib said: "It depends on the feasibility study carried out by the private sector." The high-speed train from KL Sentral to Singapore costing about RM8 billion which was proposed by YTL Corporation managing director Tan Sri Francis Yeoh would cut down travel to merely 90 minutes.

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It must be embarrassing of the YTL unnamed official to announce the “cat is in the bag” for the bullet train approval and award and being widely carried by the newswires and with the transport minister saying no “final decision” yet. When the government said they are “still considering” the YTL proposal, it implies that there is still intensive lobbying behind the scene to get a piece of the cake worth RM8.1 billion. The rival bidder Saujana Beta and Golden Land said they are “unaware of any plan by the Government to hand over the entire project to YTL”. By right, the project should go to the best proposal and at the lower cost even though it is privately finance so as to ensure the fares to be charged can be at the most economical and practical for travelers.

The proposed YTL bullet train is said to model after the Japan–Taiwan [very similar 345 km compared to KL Sentral-Singapore 325 km and the new travel times are 90 mins. But Taiwan old trains are faster. The old journeys took about 5 hrs compared to 7 hours in Malaysia; but it cost a bomb in Taiwan $15 Bln compared to YTL RM8.1 Bln] one and it looks like Shinkansen, or bullet train technology for the Taipei-Kaohsiung route recently opened in January 2007, delayed from 2003. In Taiwan, people still had reservations about the system and concerns raised over safety issues as there were two minor derailments during test runs. The media there played a pivotal role and being blamed for lack of confidence using it.= = == = =
March 27, 2007 20:29 PM
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Malaysia Govt Still Considering YTL Bullet Train Proposal

ABOVE: Typical Japanese bullet train
KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 (Bernama) -- The government is still considering the YTL Corp Bhd's RM8.1 billion proposal to build a high-speed rail project between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy today. "The government has not made a final decision. We are still looking at the proposal," he told reporters after attending the MCA presidential council meeting here, Tuesday. Chan, who is also MCA deputy president, was commenting on a news report that YTL would commence work on the project by year-end. The report also said the proposed private finance initiative bullet train project was expected to be ready by end-2009.

Asked when the government was expected to make the decision, Chan said: "We don't want to set a time frame as the government has to thoroughly evaluate the project." The report, which quoted a company official, also said the Malaysian and Singapore governments had given the thumbs-up for the project. It said YTL has started work on the design and track laying (DTL) plan, which would include a prototype design quite similar to the bullet trains in Japan and Taiwan and would submit to the respective agencies for approval in the next four to six months. The official also said the DTL plan was handled by experts who would also be studying details of environmental preservation and would involve minimal relocation of people along the stretch.
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M'sia, S'pore approve bullet-train
March 26, 2007, 12.32 pm (Singapore time), via
KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia and Singapore have approved construction of a bullet
train linking the two countries,
to be built by Malaysian conglomerate YTL
Corporation, according to a report on Monday. The New Straits Times, citing an unnamed official from YTL, said the high-speed train would cost some RM8.1 billion (US$2.34 billion) and that design plans and studies were underway.

'The governments of Malaysia and Singapore have given the thumbs up for the bullet train project and YTL has started working out the design and track laying plan,' the official was quoted as saying by the newspaper. The plan 'will include a prototype design quite similar to bullet trains in Japan and Taiwan, to submit to the respective agencies for approval in the next four to six months,' the official said. YTL and Germany's Siemens AG are expected to commence work on the project by the end of 2007, with completion seen at end-2009, according to the newspaper. AP
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YTL plans 2 high-speed rail projects this year
By Sharen Kaur March 26 2007, via
YTL Corp Bhd, the country's largest builder and power group, will ride on its expertise and experience from its Express Rail Link (ERL) development, to execute two high-speed rail projects in Malaysia this year. The two are the proposed private finance initiative bullet train project by YTL linking Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, which may cost more than RM8.1 billion to develop due to its technical and engineering aspects and environment protection plan, and the pending Sentul-Batu Caves high-speed rail project estimated to cost some RM550 million.

"The Government of Malaysia and Singapore have given the thumbs up for the bullet train project and YTL has started working out the design and track laying (DTL) plan, which will include a prototype design quite similar to bullet trains in Japan and Taiwan, to submit to the respective agencies for approval in the next four to six months," said a company official who
declined to be named.
The official said the DTL plan is handled by experts who will also study details of environmental preservation and minimise as much as possible the relocation of people along the stretch.

"Feasibility studies are being carried out. The design will be very sleek and the building of structures will take time to complete to avoid going through grey areas. "YTL plans to use the prototype of its ERL project and draw the expertise of Siemens AG, Europe's largest engineering company, for the bullet train project," the official said. The official added that YTL and Siemens are expected to commence work on the project by year end, and the cut off time would be end-2009. It is firmly believed that YTL is also planning to rope in Siemens, which has worked on several railway developments in Malaysia including the ERL project, as the civil and engineering contractor for the Sentul Batu Caves project.

YTL will work on the Sentul-Batu Caves project via its partly-owned unit, Sentul Raya Sdn Bhd, the developer of the Sentul West project. The Finance Ministry had in 2005 given out letters of intent to Sentul Raya, Saujana Beta Development Sdn Bhd, a unit of Brunsfield Corp Sdn Bhd, and Golden Land Development Sdn Bhd, an infrastructure development company, to
jointly work on the project. "YTL is expected to work on the entire project after Saujana Beta and Golden Land could not agree on certain terms and conditions and the price
structure," said a source familiar with railway development in the country. When contacted, Saujana Beta and Golden Land said they are unaware of any plan by the Government to hand over the entire project to YTL.

YTL had also declined to comment, saying instead that it is not in their place to make any comments at this point. "We are however going to confirm our plans for the expansion of the Sentul KTM Komuter station, which in the future will be an integrated themed train centre with retail, F&B outlets, offices and more," it said in an e-mail reply. The Sentul-Batu Caves rail project involves the installation of a double-tracking system along a 7.5km stretch and electrification, signaling and communication works, upgrading of the Batu Caves station, building of three flyovers and two underpasses and fare collection.

= = = =and in Taiwan...
The bullet train bites in Taiwan; By Caroline Gluck; BBC News, Taipei
Thursday, 4 January 2007, 14:03 GMT

Taiwan's new high speed train service - which begins commercial operations on Friday - is expected to herald the start of a transport revolution on the island. Taiwan's high speed train (ABOVE)The train reaches speeds of 300 kilometres per hour. The service could change the way people work and live along Taiwan's densely populated western corridor, which is home to more than 90% of its 23 million population.

Travelling on the sleek white and orange trains at speeds of up to 300km/h (186 mph) will see journey times between the capital, Taipei, in the north, and Kaohsiung, the island's second largest city in the south, slashed from more than four hours to just 90 minutes. "With the opening of the high speed rail, Taiwan island will become Taiwan city," predicts Hank Huang, at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research. He has been studying the economic impact that the world's largest BOT (build-operate-transfer) project, costing nearly $15bn, is likely to have. "Travel times and costs will dramatically decrease, communications between cities will be far easier, and Taiwan city can compete with the top Asian cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai," Mr Huang said. “I have the confidence that the more people ride on this train, the more confidence they will have” Ou Chin-der THSRC chief executive officer

In the first phase of operation, 19 trains will run return journeys each day. The operator, the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation (THSRC), hopes to attract 150,000 passengers per day. The company hopes to quickly expand services to full capacity of 88 round trip journeys per day. Currently, there are eight stations along the 345km (214 mile) line, although one 10 km section of the line from Taipei to Banciao will not be open in the initial stage. There are plans for four new stations to be added to the system by 2010. Classroom tests Journalists were recently invited to check out the train in a test ride. Our journey was fast, smooth and trouble free.

ABOVE: the route in Taiwan (345 km), cost $15 Billion, YTL proposal RM8.1 Bln (325 km) is cheap

But two minor derailments during test runs had prompted the postponement of the inauguration ceremony, planned for 7 December. With so many concerns raised over safety issues, our tour included a stop at the system's operation control centre in Taoyuan county. This involved a peek inside a classroom where new drivers - who had only previously driven trains capable of maximum speeds of 80km/h - were being tested in simulated training exercises. Each driver receives more than 1,000 hours of training - including simulated and on-the-job exercises - over an eight month period. The instruction is all in English, and experienced international high speed train experts have been recruited as tutors. But the high speed rail project has had image problems and became mired in controversy, almost from the start. The decision to switch from the European Eurotrain consortium to a Japanese consortium offering Shinkansen, or bullet train technology, proved costly. Train drivers' training centre

ABOVE: Drivers are being taught how to cope with the faster speeds.
The THSRC eventually agreed to pay the European consortium $65m in compensation. There were technical, construction and financing problems. And the system's original target opening date, 2003, was delayed several times.

Concept towns
Despite the negative publicity, Ou Chin-der of the THSRC predicted that the service will get enough customers and break even within a year. Under its BOT contract, the company has operating rights for the high speed rail system and stations for 35 years, before management is transferred to the government. It will also operate and develop businesses in station special zones for a 50 year period. "The traffic volume, the demand is extremely high, but it will depend on... how many trains we can run," he told the BBC. But he also admitted that people still had reservations about the system.

ABOVE: Train passengers at the platform

Officials believe the train will change Taiwan's economic face. "Frankly, they still don't have sufficient confidence. It’s just because of the media. But I have the confidence that the more people ride on this train, the more confidence they will have," he said. The government has high expectations of the new transport link. It hopes the rail service will foster more balanced regional economic development.

More than 1,500 hectares (3,706 acres) of land has been set aside for multi-million dollar new town developments around five stations. Lu Hsiang-hwa, deputy chief engineer at the Bureau of High Speed Rail, showed off computer generated designs for the five areas - which will be jointly developed by his bureau and the THSRC. Each station will have a different development concept. If these areas can't build a local character industry to pull some people in, I fear they will die Professor Stone Shih

Taipei's Soochow University He is convinced the high speed rail will strongly influence Taiwan's future development. "Most people now live in cities; but maybe the rail can help to revolutionise lifestyles. People can live in the suburbs and go to work in the station district areas," he said. But the images and maps in the brochures so far remain plans on paper. Previous attempts to develop new towns in Taiwan have failed - largely because they have lacked integrated transport and communication facilities.

And it could take several decades for the new towns to mature. Not everyone is convinced the high speed rail will have such positive benefits. Professor Stone Shih, a specialist in urban sociology at
Taipei's Soochow University, fears poorer areas - such as Yunlin and Changhua counties - could suffer as people migrate towards what he calls extended metropolitan areas. "Taipei and Kaohsiung are like magnets... pulling people towards the two cores," he said. "People can't find good jobs, good leisure facilities in smaller, local areas. They'll push to move near the cores. "If these areas can't build a local character industry to pull some people in, I fear they will die," he warned

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Anonymous pw said...

i'm waiting for KL - Sin bullet train. hopefully, i could ride on it in the future years :).
i think, this is the most prestigious train project in southern asia.
thanks for the article.

3:08 PM  
Blogger edragon said...

Nov 11, 2009
China gets M'sia rail project

PUTRAJAYA (Malaysia) - MALAYSIA agreed on Wednesday to award a multi-billion-dollar rail project to a Chinese contractor as part of efforts to bolster business ties with its biggest trading partner amid a visit by China's President Hu Jintao.

Both countries also signed agreements to cooperate in banking, education and infrastructure development during a meeting between Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Mr Hu, the first Chinese president to visit Malaysia in 15 years.

'China and Malaysia's relationship is embracing a new era of all-around development. We will work with Malaysia to usher in an even brighter future,' Mr Hu told a news conference.

Malaysia has agreed in principle to grant the construction of a double-track rail line in southern Malaysia to an unspecified Chinese company, Mr Najib said. He did not give details, but government officials earlier this year estimated the track would cover 197km and cost RM7.5 billion (S$3.1 billion).

Officials will also consider letting Chinese companies participate in a northern dam expansion as well as an aluminum smelter and pulp and paper projects on Borneo island, Mr Najib said. Both sides signed a memorandum of understanding to deepen cooperation between its banking regulatory authorities in what some analysts believe could be the prelude to allowing a Chinese bank to establish operations in Malaysia.

Mr Hu was scheduled to wrap up his two-day visit to Malaysia later Wednesday before heading to Singapore for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. -- AP

3:08 PM  

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