Long-term aim to shift freight carriage from road to rail, says Transport Minister

PETALING JAYA: The government cannot make pronouncements to shift cargo movement from road to rail as long as the infrastructure is not ready, says Anthony Loke.

“Right now, I can not immediately say that cargo needs to be moved by rail because we depend on Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB), but its capacity is limited, " said the Transport Minister.

“Even if this is our aim, I cannot announce any policy,” he added on Monday (March 27) after being hosted in Menara Star here by two radio stations belonging to the Star Media Group – 988 and Suria FM.

Loke said that the shift will be encouraged when the infrastructure is in place, adding that this includes the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL).

Stretching from Kota Baru to Port Klang, passing through Kuantan, Mentakab, and Bentong in Pahang, and Gombak in Selangor, the ECRL is expected to be completed in 2026.

On March 16, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said that the Transport Ministry is preparing a comprehensive public transportation framework.

Anwar had said that the framework is aimed at improving aspects of public transport in the country, and will be presented to Cabinet for implementation once it is ready.

He had said that a well-defined public transportation network will go a long way in addressing traffic congestion issues, which impacts the country’s productivity.

Besides shifting more cargo to rail, Loke said the target of getting at least 40% of commuters to use public transport has yet to be achieved – it is currently below 20%.

“Prasarana recorded one million passengers on Tuesday (March 21), the highest daily number since the country entered the endemic phase.

“I believe with the newly opened Putrajaya MRT Line the numbers will continue to grow to more than one million passengers daily.

“In the Klang Valley, we have seven to eight million people. It means that a few hundred thousand people depend on public transport every day in Kuala Lumpur,” said Loke.

He added that it is also important to improve services to ensure the public perceives services as reliable.

On traffic congestion, Loke said there is currently no policy to limit the number of vehicles on the road.

“That is still an option for the people; at the same time, we have to enhance the public transport system. It is up to the public to own vehicles or use public transport,” said Loke.

“All we need is the availability of an efficient public transport system, which will then reduce the number of cars on the road,” he added.

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