THE ASEAN Heads of Government summit in Kuala Lumpur at the end of July, celebrating 30 years of the Association of South East Asian Nations, marked a coming-of-age for the region's tiger economies. Rapid industrial growth is being mirrored in the commercial and service sectors, which is putting pressure on urban as well as national infrastructure.
Strong economic growth is underpinning investment in rail projects - not least the ambitious Trans-Asia Railway to link Singapore with Kunming in southern China. This covers more than one trunk line; five or six separate route segments are under consideration to weld the various national railways into a cohesive regional network (RG 5.96 p256). The project is being driven forward by Malaysian President Dr Mahathir Mohammad, and it is no coincidence that the summit in Kuala Lumpur was able to endorse a 2m ringgit grant for TAR feasibility studies to be led by KTM Berhad.
At the same time, the provision of high-quality public transport is becoming critical in the major conurbations. From Singapore to Korea, the cities of the Pacific Rim now account for a substantial proportion of the world's heavy metro development.
Singapore has several ambitious schemes under way (p614), and more in the pipeline; the island is also due to be tied into the electrified suburban rail network being developed in the neighbouring Malaysian city of Johor.
The Malaysian capital is already benefitting from electrified commuter rail services, which were inaugurated in 1995. Three light metro lines are now under construction (p617); although all use different technologies, interchange stations and through ticketing are envisaged to give Kuala Lumpur an integrated network by 2000.
Thailand in trouble?
Three privately-promoted urban rail networks are also under construction in Bangkok, but work has been hit hard by serious economic problems and the fall in value of the baht. Construction work on Hopewell Holdings' ambitious Berts network of elevated road and rail corridors at Dong Muang and Klong Tang has been suspended, and Hopewell Chairman & Managing Director Sir Gordon Wu told Transport Minister Suwat Liptopallop on July 18 that the first phase 'cannot be completed as originally planned' in time for the city to host the Asian Games in December 1998.
Wu said the 'worsening economic climate' would require another 'financial reassessment', with the cost of the initial 36 km jumping 15% to US$3·7bn. Hopewell has sold its remaining stake in Consolidated Electric Power Asia, and Wu is looking to raise additional funding. The international group of banks backing the scheme hopes to meet the Thai government this month, but the Transport Ministry is already looking at cancelling and re-letting the concession after Hopewell failed to meet a July 31 deadline for presenting revised financial proposals.
Government funding for double-tracking work on SRT main lines radiating from the city is also likely to be curtailed as a result of the recession, restricting the scope for expansion of commuter operations. In July SRT announced plans to allow more private operation of rail services, notably Bangkok commuter trains and some inter-city freight and passenger traffic. However, SRT will continue to provide the infrastructure, and is looking for an annual government grant of 1bn baht to support the operation of cheap long-distance trains serving the outlying provinces.
Manila boosts light rail
The Philippine capital has enjoyed the benefits of an elevated light rail line for over a decade, and is now in the throes of a major expansion programme.
The Light Rail Transit Authority is half-way through a two-year project to expand capacity on Line 1 at a cost of 2·8bn pesos. This will boost the peak-hour capacity from 18000 to 27000 passengers/h in each direction from August 1998. LRTA is buying seven new three-car trains and additional centre units to expand its existing two-car sets, along with related modifications to power supplies, trackwork, stations, depots and signalling systems. LRTA is also investing 361m pesos in automated fare collection equipment on Line 1, which is due to be operational in July 1998. This will initially use recyclable plastic magnetic-stripe tickets, but is designed for upgrading to smart cards in the future.
Construction is getting under way on Line 2, which will run from Santolan in Pasic City to Recto, serving 11 stations. Unlike the initial route, Line 2 will be a 'light metro' with wider cars operating in four-car trains, powered by 1·5 kV overhead. The 25·7bn pesos project began in July 1996, and is scheduled for completion in July 2000; the first phase may open early during 1999. Following the signing of a Japanese financing package, Sumitomo Corp and Hanjin-Itochu joint venture were both given notice to proceed on March 12 for the depot and substructure contracts respectively. Bidding is now under way for the viaducts, stations, trackwork, signalling and vehicles.
Manila Line 3 is being built as a private venture by the Metro Rail Transit Corp, and is expected to open in part towards the end of next year. Completion of the 17 km orbital route along Epifana Dos Santos Avenue from North Avenue to Pasay is due in early 1999, but construction of the Cubao - North Avenue section is ahead of schedule. The first cars are expected from CKD of the Czech Republic early next year.
The Department of Transport & Communications is also canvassing private sector promoters for light rail or metro Lines 4, 5 and 6. Two concessions are envisaged for reconstruction of the PNR main lines north and south of the capital to create high-capacity electrified commuter rail networks. The planned NorthRail express rail link connecting Manila to the former US Clark Air Base may also be extended southeast across the city to the Fort Bonifacio redevelopment zone. o
CAPTION: Construction has started in Kuala Lumpur's Buki Bintang shopping district for the city's third private-sector metro line
CAPTION: Rolling stock for Tanayong Group's Bangkok Transit System light rail network will be supplied by Siemens; this mock-up was unveiled at the UITP City Transport exhibition in Stuttgart in June
CAPTION: Kowloon - Canton Railway Corp's light rail division is investing HK$500m to expand capacity on its Tuen Mun network by 1999. Last month saw the arrival of 20 more LRVs from Goninan of Australia at a cost of HK$16m each. Another HK$104m is going on the widening of platforms at key stops (above), and readers are being installed for the Octopus smart-card tickets to be launched this month (right)
Singapore pushes ahead with metro and LRT
CONSTRUCTION of Singapore's 20 km North East metro line is due to get under way in November, with opening pencilled in for 2002. Running underground throughout, the 20 km NEL will link the World Trade Centre to Sengkang and Punggol. By the end of July, nine civil engineering contracts had been awarded, along with the first three for electrical and mechanical work (table).
The NEL depot and operations control centre will be built on a 27ha site at Sengkang. The stabling tracks will be below ground level, covered by a reinforced concrete deck to carry industrial development and the depot for the planned Sengkang LRT. Following the Land Transport Authority's decision not to insist on compatible specifications with the island's other two metro lines, the NEL will be equipped with overhead power supply rather than 750V DC third rail.
Early in 1998, LTA plans to issue tender documents for construction of a 6 km branch from the MRT East line to Changi International Airport. The elevated section from the junction at Tanah Merah to Somapah is expected to open in 2000, with the final section to the underground terminus at the airport following in 2001.
Construction is already under way on Singapore's first automated 'LRT' peoplemover, which will link the residential development at Bukit Panjang with the nearby Woodlands line metro station at Choa Chu Kang. The 8 km loop will have 13 elevated stops, linked to residential blocks by covered walkways up to 830m long.
The LRT is being built by a consortium of Keppel Integrated Engineering, Adtranz and Gammon under a S$285m DBOM concession awarded on April 12 1996. Civil engineering began just one month later, with the launching of the first guideway beam from a casting yard in Bukit Panjang. The line is due to open in the third quarter of 1999. Each car will carry 22 seated and 83 standing passengers, with twin-unit operation at peak times.
Tenders were due to be called during August for two more elevated LRT lines which will feed into the outer end of the NEL. One route serving Punggol will be around 10 km long, and the other of 13 km will serve nearby Sengkang. Further LRT projects are under consideration for various parts of the island, including the Marina Bay development close to the city centre.
On July 18, Singapore MRT Managing Director Rear-Admiral Kwek Siew Jin announced a S$100m upgrading of the signalling on the existing two metro lines, to be completed by 2002. The lines are expected to reach design capacity within five years, and trains cannot be lengthened because of six-car platforms at the underground stations. Resignalling will enable headways to be cut from 2 min to around 90sec, increasing line capacity from 30 to 34 or 37 trains/h. As an interim measure SMRT began trials in May of a modified trainset with fewer seats, more handrails and greater standing capacity.
From 1999, Woodlands and Singapore are also due to be served by KTM Berhad's electrified Komuter network now being developed in the southern Malaysian city of Johor. However, the extension of services across the causeway has been thrown back into the melting pot following an annoucement by the island's government in May that 25 kV overhead catenary would present an 'unacceptable' danger to the population, and cause electromagnetic interference. Despite its selection of overhead power supply for the NEL, the LTA is urging KTM to equip the Johor EMUs for dual-voltage operation and switch to 750V third rail for the final 20 km to the terminus at Tanjong Pagar. o
TABLE: North East Line engineering contracts awarded up to July 31 1997
No Section Contractors Price Awarded
701 Sengkang depot Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co S$350m July 25
702 Sengkang, Buangkok Sato Kyogo Co and Hock Lian Seng S$166·4m April 26 + 2·8 km of tunnels Engineering Pte Ltd
703 Hougang, Kovan Samsung Corp S$214·8m May 28 + 2 km of tunnels
704 Serangoon, Woodleigh Wayss & Freytag, Econ Piling, and S$316·7m June 23 + 2·5 km of tunnels Chew Eu Hock Construction Co Pte Ltd
705 Boon Keng, Sennett Kumagai Gumi, Sembawang Engineering S$216·9m June 23 + 2·1 km of tunnels & Construction Pte Ltd, and Mitsui & Co
706 Kandang Kerbau Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co, S$311·6m April 26 and Farrer Park stations and Zublin AG
708 Clark Quay Nishimatsu Construction, Lum Chang Building S$171·2m June 23 + 1·5 km of tunnels Contractors, and Bachy Soletanche Singapore
709 People's Park station Gammon Construction and Econ Piling Pte Ltd S$141·5m June 23
710 Outram Park Shimizu Corp, Dillingham Construction International S$200m July 25 + 3·0 km of tunnels Inc, and Koh Brothers Pte Ltd
752 Signalling and platform doors GEC Alsthom, and ST Electronic & Engineering S$130m July 25
759 Overhead line equipment Spie Enertrans, and Intraco Ltd S$18m July 25
774 Fire protection system Tyco Engineering & Construction Pte Ltd S$32m July 25