KUALA LUMPUR: The Transport Ministry is discussing with several companies to build the double-tracking electric rail project, which will traverse Peninsular Malaysia and cut travel time by half.
The companies include the Indian Railway Construction Company and the China Railway Engineering Corporation.
Ministry officials would also hear a proposal from a Malaysia Mining Corporation-Gamuda joint venture.
“The ministry would evaluate all the proposals thoroughly and submit a report to the Cabinet as soon as possible for a decision,” Transport Minister Datuk Chan Kong Choy told reporters after opening the 24th Joint Conference of Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTM) and the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) here yesterday.
In his speech, Chan said the transport sector had been privatised to ensure faster development of ports, airports and railway operations.
“This, however, does not mean an overnight conversion of the country’s transport system into efficient entities.
“It would take time for the industry to respond to, and be ahead of, the demands imposed upon them,” he said.
“Privatisation is not an end by itself. It must result in a host of improvements, such as greater efficiency and productivity of services, more asset utilisation and competitive pricing,” he said.
The ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Zaharah Shaari, KTM Bhd chairman Tan Sri Thong Yaw Hong and SRT Governor Dr Chitsanti Dhanasobhon were also present.
Chan said the KTM intercity service was set to progress into a speedier, safer and more convenient mode of transport for long distance travel.
With the completion of the double-tracking project the trains will be faster and rail journey will become shorter.
Train speed will increase from the current maximum of 120kph to 160kph, he said.
Chan said a journey from Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth, which takes seven hours and 30 minutes, would be reduced to just under three hours while a Kuala Lumpur to Johor Baru trip, which takes six hours, would also be completed under three hours.
Chan said KTM Bhd had projected an increase in its intercity passenger volume from the present four million to seven million a year upon completion of the project in 2005 and 26 million by 2020.
On another matter, he said KTM Bhd's board of directors had recommended to the Government that rail workers be paid bonuses just like civil servants.