INTRO: Three privately-promoted light metro lines are under construction to augment Malaysian Railways’ electrified commuter rail network

IN EXACTLY ONE YEAR, the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur will host the 1998 Commonwealth Games, at a new stadium taking shape south of the city. The start of the games on September 14 1998 has set a tight target for completion of several rail projects, although it seems certain that not all will be ready in time.

The games venue will primarly be served by a southern extension of the STAR light rail network (LRT1), whose initial line began revenue operations on December 16 1996. The games village will be linked to the city centre by LRT1 and a short section of the PRT elevated monorail (below).

KL’s first experience with modern rail-based public transport came in 1995 with the launch of KTM Berhad’s Komuter suburban services. The two main routes in the X-shaped network overlap to provide a more intensive service through the central area.

Three privately-promoted systems have now been authorised: the STAR light rail line (RG 11.95 p759), the Putra automated light metro (DM 96 p48), and the Peoplemover Rapid Transit elevated monorail. All are due to be open by 2000, and the promoters are working with KTM to create an integrated network for the capital.

Work is also expected to get under way soon on the long-planned 58 km Express Rail Link connecting Kuala Lumpur with the new international airport taking shape at Serpang. This will also serve the new government offices and administrative centre at Putra Jaya, and will terminate at the Central station in the Brickfields development. The rail link is being promoted by a consortium of Tabung Haji Technologies, YTL Corp and Abrar Group, which has a 60-year concession from the government. The standard-gauge line is to be electrified at 25 kV, and worked by a derivative of the German ICE trainsets.

STAR shines brightest

The first of the three metro projects to get under way was the light rail concession awarded to Sistem Transit Aliran Ringgan in December 1992. STAR is a joint venture of local entrepreneurs with Taylor Woodrow of Great Britain and AEG (now Adtranz) of Germany, which formed the Kuala Lumpur Transit Group to build the line.

As conceived in 1990, STAR is being built in three sections: the initial Phase I opened in December 1996, and two extensions forming Phase II. Of these, the branch south to the Komplex Sukan Negara has top priority, followed by the northern extension to Sentul Timur. The franchise agreement for Phase II was signed on June 26 1995, followed by the award of a 1·6bn ringgit construction contract to KLTG on July 17.

Phase I starts from the eastern suburb of Ampang, where the depot, workshops and administration building are located, and runs 12 km to Sultan Ismail. There are 13 stations, of which nine are located on the ground level ex-railway alignment and four on the new elevated section through the city centre.

The 11·3 km southern branch leaves the first line at Chan Sow Lin and follows the former railway alignment to meet the KTM main line, which it parallels for some distance. It then flies over the main line and heads west to reach the stadium and Games village. There will be 8 stations, and 4·5 km of elevated alignment. The branch is due to open to revenue operations on July 1 1998.

The 3·2 km northern extension scheduled to open on January 1 1999 will be entirely elevated, with four stations. From Sultan Ismail, the line will follow Sungai Gombak to Jalan Tun Razak and Bandar Baru Sentul. It will serve the rapidly-developing area around the Putra World Trade Centre, and the KTM workshops site at Sentul Raya which is to be redeveloped.

STAR is operated by two-section articulated LRVs, supplied by Walkers of Australia with GTO chopper traction equipment from Adtranz. Phase I uses 34 D vehicles with a driving cab at one end; they work back-to-back in pairs. A further 26 D vehicles are being supplied for Phase II, along with 30 non-driving M cars to allow the operation of three-unit trains. Each D car can carry 56 seated and 340 standing passengers, while the M cars have 60 seats and room for 348 standees. o

CAPTION: STAR’s articulated LRVs have been running on the elevated tracks through the city centre in revenue service since December 1996

CAPTION: The Putra automated light metro (LRT2) will be operated by 70 ALRT2 linear-motored trainsets supplied by Bombardier of Canada

Linear city monorail to serve the Golden Triangle

On October 29 1996 the Malaysian government signed a 30-year concession for construction, operation and maintenance of a 16 km urban monorail costed at 1·9bn ringgit. Known as the Peoplemover Rapid Transit, the line is to be built by KL PRT Sdn Berhad, owned 63% by KL Linear City Sdn Bhd and 37% by KL Monorail Concessionaire Sdn Bhd.

The elevated line will serve 20 stations, including a short branch to the Central station development at Brickfields. Interchanges will be provided with the STAR light rail network, the Putra automated light metro, and KTM Berhad’s Komuter suburban network.

PRT is to be built in two phases, of approximately 9 and 7 km. Phase I will start from the LRT1 interchange and Pekeliling bus terminal at Jalan Tun Razak in the north, and head south via Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman to enter the so-called ’Golden Triangle’ incorporating Kuala Lumpur’s central business, hotel and shopping districts. At Tun Sambathan the route will swing west to KL Central. This phase will have 12 stations, and is due to be completed before the end of 1999.

Phase II will diverge at Tun Sambathan to run alongside the 2·4 km GigaWorld development at Brickfields, and then head south along the populous Old Klang Road corridor to Kampung Pasir. This phase is due to be opened early in 2000, after which the Central station spur will be run as a branch shuttle.

Construction began in December, with work concentrated on a short section of Phase I, with four stations and an interchange to LRT1; this will give access to the Golden Triangle for visitors to the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

PRT will use Japanese straddle-beam monorail technology, based on the Series 1000 cars used on the Tokyo - Haneda Airport line. Rubber-tyred cars will run on a narrow concrete guideway. Two tracks formed from precast concrete haunched guideway beams will be supported on columns with crossheads at 30m centres. Traction power at 1·5 kV DC will be provided by side-contact pantographs. Semi-automatic operation is envisaged, with trains running at 2min headways during peak time. Peak design capacity is 18000 passengers/h in each direction.

Hitachi is supplying an initial fleet of 14 four-car trainsets, but more will follow as demand grows. Each air-conditioned set will be 63·5m long and weigh 102 tonnes; it will accommodate up to 630 passengers, of whom 168 will be seated. Top speed will be 80 km/h, giving end-to-end journey times of 37min for Phase I and 58min for the whole line.

Guideway engineering is the responsibility of TY Lin (SEA), with De Lew (Malaysia) as Project Manager, Lea & Elliott as System Consultant, and The MVA Consultancy as Traffic Consultant. Civil works are being undertaken by IJM-Binmaju Sdn Bhd, with Toyo Engineering Corp responsible for electrical and mechanical installation. Adtranz is providing the fixed-block signalling and ATP. Itochu Corp will provide support for the operations and maintenance, in association with Tokyo Monorail Co and Hitachi Ltd. o

CAPTION: Piling for the first phase of the KL Monorail elevated guideway is under way along the centre of streets through the Bukit Bintang shopping district