Bold new train line plan for Penang

GEORGE TOWN: A light rail transit (LRT) line serving between Penang International Airport (PIA) and Tanjung Bungah has been planned for the island following a revision to the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

Transport Minister Anthony Loke, who announced the revised LRT project, said the earlier plan was to connect PIA, Komtar and the three islands to be reclaimed, dubbed the Penang South Islands (PSI).

But as two of the island’s development plans have been scrapped, the line has to be realigned, he added.

“Initially, the plan was to start at PIA in Bayan Lepas and end at Komtar in George Town.

“We reviewed the proposal and felt that the route should be extended to Tanjung Bungah,” Loke told reporters yesterday during a visit to the Sia Boey Urban Archaeological Park, which is near where the planned Komtar LRT station is located.

According to the original PTMP plan, the 7km LRT line with eight stations will run from Komtar, along Jalan Burma, then Jalan Larut, followed by Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah by the sea till Gurney Drive, and onward to Jalan Tanjung Tokong.

And now, it has been extended until Tanjung Bungah, but the exact location of the end station has not been finalised.

Loke said following discussions with the state, it was decided that the depot should be built on land and not on the reclaimed island under PSI.

“The original proposal was for the depot to be constructed on the reclaimed PSI island.

“But since the LRT project is not tied to PSI, to expedite it, we need to finalise the depot’s location and have proposed for it to be built on existing land.

“We do not need to wait for the island to be reclaimed first.

“With the agreement of the state government, we have identified several places and we will finalise it soon,” Loke added.

Loke said adjustments to the final cost and alignment of the project would be finalised and presented to the Finance Ministry.

He said the government was willing to work with the private sector to facilitate land acquisition.

“In any such big project, there will be land acquisition but we will try to minimise it, and we are willing to work with the private sector,” he said.

The new planned alignment, he added, would be 29km long with 27 stations.

Loke is expecting the project to start this year and be completed in five years.

Also present at the event were Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and Mass Rapid Transit Corp Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Zarif Hashim.

The PTMP was originally devised by international consultants to work out what needed to be done to address the rapidly growing traffic congestion in Penang.

It contains a 50-year game plan that includes the construction of new highways, water taxis, LRT and even a train line across the Penang channel, parallel to the Penang Bridge.

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