(Updated) MRT Corp to undertake Penang Island LRT project

Updated with Bernama’s full report.

PUTRAJAYA, March 29 (Bernama) — The federal government has officially taken over the Penang Light Rail Transit (LRT) Mutiara Line project from the state government, said Transport Minister Anthony Loke.

Loke said this followed the approval given by the Cabinet for the proposed development of the project on March 22.

“The government has officially decided to appoint MRT Corp, a company 100 per cent owned by the Minister of Finance Incorporated (MoF Inc), as the developer and asset owner.

“This project will be implemented through open tender while procurements will be divided into three main components,” he told a press conference here today.

He said the three components are the contract for civil construction works for Segment 1 covering the Silicon Valley to Komtar alignment, the contract for civil construction works for Segment 2 involving the Komtar to Penang Sentral alignment, and the turnkey contract for systems and rolling stocks works on a build-maintain-transfer (BMT) basis.

“SRS Consortium Sdn Bhd (SRS) will be offered the contract for Segment 1 through the Single-Sourcing Request Proposal mechanism. 

“This offer is based on a request from the Penang government, which has appointed SRS as a project implementation partner for the Penang Transport Master Plan, which includes the Mutiara Line LRT, via open tender in August 2015,” he said.

He said SRS had conducted preliminary technical studies and design and obtained approval for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Social Impact Assessment (SIA) and a conditional Railway Scheme.

Asked about the estimated cost of the project, Loke said the government would hold several rounds of negotiations with the relevant parties before announcing the figure.

“We have the cost estimates but want to negotiate with the parties concerned first. The cost is subject to negotiations with the companies concerned,” he said.

Loke said the rolling stocks depot would be planned and developed together with the transit-oriented integrated development project at the Pesta Site, Sungai Nibong in collaboration with MRT Corp and the state government.

He said this new strategy is aimed at generating additional non-fare revenue which is essential to be ploughed back into the Penang LRT maintenance in the future.

Asked about the conditions imposed by the state on the federal government, Loke said they include reducing reclamation works to one island from three islands.

Loke said the project would benefit not only residents of Penang but also facilitate the travel of workers staying in Perlis, Kedah and northern Perak who commute by train daily.

He also gave an assurance that the LRT project will not jeopardise George Town’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Loke said EIA and SIA approvals had been obtained and preliminary technical studies and design had been conducted.

“All these have already been considered in the preliminary studies and as I said earlier, the EIA has already been carried out.

“Of course, sensitive areas (UNESCO heritage sites) must be considered and given due attention. For sure they will be given special attention,” he said. George Town was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.

Construction work on the LRT project is expected to start this year and it is targeted to begin operations in 2030.

The 29-kilometre LRT will run from Silicon Island to Komtar and cross the channel to Penang Sentral in Seberang Perai.

It will have 20 stations, including interchange stations at Komtar and Penang Sentral, and be linked to Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) and ETS train services.