For commuters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, July 17, 2017, started with a very comfortable first ride in the new Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT) Line 1. The 51 km long rail line connects the Malaysian capital to outlying areas and is part of the governments vision to create a transportation backbone for the greater Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley region. The MRT from Sungai Buloh to Kajang (SBK Line or Line 1) is the first of three planned metro lines. It runs 41.5 km on elevated and 9.5 km on underground tracks consisting 24 elevated and seven underground stations. With that new connection, the Malaysian government hopes to ease Kuala Lumpur‘s notorious traffic congestion.
Six Years Construction for MRT Line 1
The Mass Rapid Transit system, eventually comprising three lines, is Malaysia‘s biggest infrastructure project to date. The first line – connecting Kuala Lumpur to Sungai Buloh in the northeast and Kajang in the southwest – took six years to build and cost 21 billion ringgit (approx. 4.89 billion US dollars). “As Malaysians, we can stand tall today as we have a world-class project for the people. We are seeing not just the MRT but the shape of the future of Malaysia before our eyes”, said Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak at the opening ceremony.
The opening of Phase Two completes the entire 51 km long SBK Line and commuters are now able to reach easily the centre of Kuala Lumpur, such as the Golden Triangle and the old Chinatown quarter by using SBK Line. The second phase stretches from Semantan Station to Kajang Station which includes the 9.5 km underground and the 20.5 km southern elevated sections with 12 elevated and seven underground stations. Phase One was opened on December 16, 2016, and runs from the Sungai Buloh Station to the Semantan Station, comprising the 21 km northern elevated section of the line. Also the altogether seven interchange stations of the SBK Line started operation now and connect commuters easily to other transportation systems of Kuala Lumpur.
Huge Demand of public Transportation in Kuala Lumpur
Public transport in Malaysia has been woefully neglected as past administrations focused on nurturing a national auto industry and building roads and highways. Over time that led to world-class traffic jams, which the MRT system is intended to keep from worsening and hopefully reduce. The government has projected the population of the Klang Valley (the area served by the MRT system, which encompasses Kuala Lumpur, the federal administrative capital Putrajaya, and surrounding districts) will grow to 10 million by 2020 from 6 million in 2010. And the number of cars is expected to rise to 7 million if there is no marked shift to public transport.
According to a World Bank study in 2015, Malaysians living in the Klang Valley spent 250 million hours a year stuck in traffic. The MRT is part of Najib‘s ambitious plan to transform Kuala Lumpur into a metropolis on par with London, New York and Tokyo, cities with elaborate mass transit networks.
The second line, the Sungai Buloh–Serdang–Putrajaya line, is slated for completion in 2022, while the third line, known as the “Circle Line”, is still in the planning stage, though Najib said he hopes it will begin operating by 2027.
The MRT is designed to integrate with the existing three light rail lines, commuter trains, and KLIA Transit, the super-express train service linking central Kuala Lumpur with Kuala Lumpur International Airport about 60 km away. The MRT Line 1 is expected to carry an average of 150 000 passengers a day. The transport ministry expects that the first MRT line will cause the number of vehicles on the Malaysian capital‘s roads to drop by at least 160 000.