Mass Rapid Transit, better known with its acronym "MRT") is a planned 3-line mass rapid transit system in the Greater Kuala Lumpur (part of Klang Valley region) conurbation in Malaysia. It envisages a "wheel and spoke" concept comprising two northwest-southeast radial lines and one circle line looping around Kuala Lumpur.
The MRT lines, when completed, will be operated as components of the Klang Valley Public Transport System.
The "MRT" will not only significantly increase the current inadequate rail network but will also serve to integrate the existing rail networks and alleviate the severe traffic congestion in the Greater KL metropolitan area. The proposal was announced in June 2010 and was approved by the government of Malaysia in December 2010. Construction of the first line commenced in July 2011. The project also represents one of the economic entry point projects identified for the Klang Valley "National Key Economic Area" under the Economic Transformation Programme by the Malaysian government.
The Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp), founded in September 2011, has been appointed by the government as the official and asset owner of the project. Prior to the founding of the corporation, the project was managed by Prasarana Malaysia Berhad (Prasarana).
In June 2010, the Prime Minister Najib Razak announced during the tabling of the 10th Malaysia Plan (2011-2015) that the government was studying the MRT proposal for Greater Kuala Lumpur. The original proposal was dubbed the “Klang Valley Integrated Transportation System”, but it is more commonly referred to as the “Greater Kuala Lumpur MRT” or “Klang Valley MRT” by the press and analysts. While the concept plan itself was conceived by a joint venture between Gamuda Berhad and MMC Corporation Berhad, contract awards for the design and construction packages is expected to be tendered out by the government via the Swiss challenge method, if approved. The Gamuda-MMC JV indicated its intention to be the project lead and undertake tunneling works. The newly launched Public Land Transport Commission (SPAD) will oversee and coordinate the entire MRT development in terms of cost and viability, alignment and integration, and will play the role of regulator once the project is completed. National infrastructure company, Prasarana would ultimately own and operate the MRT.
In December 2010, the government approved the implementation of the MRT project, and appointed Gamuda-MMC JV as Project Delivery Partner. Apart from tunneling works, the Gamuda-MMC JV will not be allowed to bid for the other eight parcels of the project.
Job tenders were expected to open in April 2011 and construction was targeted to commence in July 2011. In May 2012, MRT Corp has awarded four tenders worth RM3.22 billion for MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line. At the end of 2012, the corporation announced that the project for its first MRT line will not exceed RM23 billion, adding that the line is stipulated for completion by July 2017.
Details and alignment for the MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line has been made public and all the relevant information can be found on MRT Corp website. In addition, the Malaysian government is expected to announce the alignment and station locations for MRT Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya Line and MRT Circle Line by 2013.
The MRT project represents one of the economic entry point project identified for the Greater Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley National Key Economic Area under the Economic Transformation Program. The new MRT system is envisaged to radically improve and transform Kuala Lumpur’s poor and sorely inadequate public transportation coverage and to propel the Greater Kuala Lumpur metropolitan area to be on par with that of a developed city. The new lines will increase Greater Kuala Lumpur’s rapid rail network from 15 km per million people in 2010 to 40 km per million people once completed. The proposal also envisages a fivefold increase in rail ridership, in line with the government’s target for public transport usage in the Klang Valley of 40% by 2020 from 18% in 2009.
The system’s 3 lines – the Circle Line, looping around Kuala Lumpur city and the Red and Green Radial Lines, covering a 20 km radius in the southeast-northwest direction from the city centre – will integrate the current rapid transit system in Kuala Lumpur and serve high-density areas which are currently not serviced by rapid rail. About 90 new stations are planned in this “Wheel and Spoke” concept, out of which 26 in the city centre will be underground. Ridership capacity will be 2 million passengers per day.
Preliminary project cost which will be government-funded, was estimated by Gamuda-MMC at RM36 billion, representing the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in Malaysia. Analysts estimate the cost could be significantly higher due to extensive tunneling works required. While the project is welcome by most, some analysts and commentators have expressed concerns on the commercial viability of the project and skepticism on the government part to pull off a project of such scale, given the numerous past delays in other rail-related projects in Malaysia. However, most agree that the project will generate immense economic contribution and investment returns in the future.
In December 2010, the government approved the implementation of the MRT project and announced preliminary plans for the first line, the Blue Line, stretching 60 km from Sungai Buloh to Kajang through 35 stations. The line will pass through the city centre and will serve densely populated suburban areas including Kota Damansara, Mutiara Damansara, Bandar Utama, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Bukit Damansara, Cheras, Bandar Tun Hussein Onn and Balakong, with a total catchment population of 1.2 million people. This line is targeted to commence construction in July 2011 and complete in 2016.
The previous proposed line by Gamuda-MMC; the Red Line will go from Damansara in the northwest to Serdang in the southeast, while the Green Line will be from Kepong in the northeast to Cheras in the southwest. Both lines will pass through the city of Kuala Lumpur and converge at Dataran Perdana (Kuala Lumpur International Financial District) near Jalan Tun Razak. The final route for MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line is believed to replace the Kota Damansara-Cheras Line which originally has been proposed by Prasarana in 2006 and Damansara-Serdang Line & Kepong-Cheras Line by Gamuda-MMC after has been considered as a priority route by PEMANDU.
The underground MRT Circle Line looping around the city of Kuala Lumpur will serve an important role to tie-up and integrate the currently disjointed LRT and monorail lines. Under the Greater KL/ Klang Valley Public Land Transport Master Plan draft, MRT Circle Line would cater for orbital movements around Kuala Lumpur, provide linkages to existing areas such as the Mid Valley, Mont Kiara, Sentul Timur and Ampang, as well as proposed major developments identified in the DBKL City Plan such as Matrade. The master plan draft says the circle line would be developed in at least two phases - The first, comprising 29 km with 22 stations - would be the western and southern sections linking Ampang with Mid Valley, Matrade and Sentul. The second phase (12 km with 8 stations) would link Ampang with Sentul Timur, completing the north eastern sector of the circle line. The master plan also says MRT Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya Line or the north-south (NS) line would cater for north-west corridor of Greater Klang Valley, linking developing areas such as Sungai Buloh, Kepong and Selayang with the eastern half of the city centre (including Kampung Baru and Kuala Lumpur International Financial District), which was forecast to be overloaded in the future.
Future expansion of lines is sustainable under the Gamuda-MMC proposal, allowing for less costly expansion options and ridership increase to 4 million passengers per day.