Electrified double track project (EDTP) from Ipoh to Padang Besar will bring about socio-economic benefits to the overall economy and the nation as a whole.
Rail is more efficient
- Rail is more efficient as it will reduce fuel consumption, less environmentally polluting, shorten travel time as well as being safer.
- Transporting cargo by rail is 6 times more efficient compared to road (i.e. rail trains consume ~80% less fuel than trucks) and for passenger, rail is 20 times more efficient.
- Government currently subsidises ~20% of the price of fuel sold to the public. As fuel consumption declines as a result from higher rail usage, Government will also be able to save on fuel subsidy at an average of RM 710 million annually.
- EDTP would thus tap energy from the national grid, which currently has a reserve margin of 38%. Over 70% of the grid is currently powered by natural gas, which is much cleaner than diesel or petrol used in cars and trucks.
Over-reliance on road – Need for rail
- Rail currently has a market share of just 3% compared to road transport with 89% in Malaysia – not surprising given existing poor level of service.
- This over-reliance is unsustainable (for example, congestion on expressway during festive season) – in developed countries rail share is 30%.
- EDTP will transform KTMB’s services, allowing it to compete in terms of travel time, frequency, fares, reliability, quality of service and safety;
- Modern trains with heavier loadings can run on the flatter, straighter alignment at speeds up to 160 kph.
- For example, KL-Butterworth (390 km) service can be increased from 2 trips/day taking 9 hours each way to trips every hour taking just 3 hours – a saving of 6 hours.
- Likewise, Ipoh-Butterworth (180 km) service can be increased from 2 trips/day taking 4 hours each way to trips every hour taking just 1.5 hours – a saving of 2.5 hours.
- EDTP can also form the backbone for future commuter services in the northern area – similar to Klang Valley commuter services – that will allow for development to be more dispersed as people working in cities can live outside. Better rail services will benefit lower income groups and rural communities.
Reduce road fatality
- Malaysia has one of the world’s highest fatality rates. Rail is much safer, and can save the country an estimated RM 400 million annually in road accident costs.
EDTP to upgrade rail network
- RM 10 billion has already been invested in double tracking the Klang Valley and from Rawang to Ipoh. However, this represents just 30% of the whole network.
- Until the entire network has been upgraded, the full benefits will not be felt and the potential of KTMB remains unfulfilled.
- Of particular importance is that the Kedah Line accounts for 60% of KTMB’s cargo traffic, including KTMB’s landbridge service plying Bangkok-Port Klang. Currently, KTMB hauled substantial cargoes like rubber from Southern Thailand to Penang Port for export to the Far East. In fact, Southern Thailand is geographically and economically more suited for export on rail via Penang Port.
- This has a parallel in the North-South Expressway (NSE) – in 1989 only a 400-km section (30%) had been completed before PLUS was given the job to build the rest of the highway. Traffic jumped 5-fold and revenue 8-fold when the NSE was completed in 1994.
- A cost-benefit study conducted by an international consultant estimated the EDTP would yield an Economic Internal rate of Return (EIRR) of 15%, above the benchmark 12% for transport projects.
- This EIRR assessment measures the economic benefits over the economic costs of the project at the National level, focusing on the long-term viability.
- Spin-offs to local services and industries will have multiplier effects that will greatly stimulate the economy, especially in the 4 northern states of Perak, Penang, Kedah and Perlis where GDP growth will increase from 5.9% pa to 7.9% pa over the next 5-years.