PLANS TO expand both of Kuala Lumpur's urban rail networks were unveiled on January 3 by the Chief Executive Officer of the state-owned holding company Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd, which was formed to integrate the bus and rail network in the Malaysian capital.

Shaipudin Shah Harun said work would get underway this year on a programme valued at 2bn ringgits, which is intended to improve public transport in both Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya. He hopes to increase public transport's market share from its current 15%, which he compared to the 60% achieved by operators in Singapore.

Last month was due to see the operating company Rangkaian Pengangkutan Integrasi Deras Sdn Bhd (RapidKL) complete a network-wide rebranding, under which the former Putra automated light metro has been renamed the Kelana Jaya Line, and the STAR light rail routes have been designated as the Sri Petaling and Ampang lines.

SPNB hopes to add between 10 and 15 km to the rail network, using a mix of government and commercial funding. The Kelana Jaya Line would be extended to Subang Jaya, where it will connect with KTM's Port Klang branch. Extra vehicles will be acquired to lengthen the two-car sets used on this line, which Shaipudin said is carrying 190000 passengers/day, 40% above its design capacity.

Conversely, the STAR routes are attracting 120000 passengers a day, which is only one-third of their capacity. SPNB intends to extend the network to serve the Old Klang Road, improving the catchment area.

RapidKL is currently introducing an integrated ticketing system, and plans to develop five new bus/rail interchange hubs, at Pekeliling, KLCC, KL Sentral, Central Market and Taman Maluri. These will be connected by a 5min interval shuttle bus service.