KUALA LUMPUR, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Malaysia said on Thursday that it has approved the continuation of its light rail transit 3 (LRT3) project after the total cost was reduced from 31.65 billion ringgit (7.83 billion U.S. dollars) to 16.63 billion ringgit, a 47 percent drop.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng previously blamed poor management at the public transport vehicle company Prasarana, saying the cost needs to be drastically reduced to make it feasible and cost-effective.
In the statement on Thursday, Lim said "the savings of more than 15 billion ringgit would not only mean a massive reduction of 15 billion ringgit in debt to be incurred, but also result in additional savings to the tax-payers of up to 14 billion ringgit in interest cost over the period of the loan financing."
To him, the 47 percent reduction in cost also demonstrates that the new federal government is walking the talk in securing significant cost reductions for excessively-priced project caused by the poor governance of the previous government.
This cost will include all project costs, including but not limited to Work Package Contracts (WPC), land acquisition, project management, consultancy fees, operational and overhead costs, as well as interest during construction, according to him.
Besides, the safety, frequency and quality of service must meet the requirements of the regulators, he added.
Among the key steps taken to reduce and rationalize the cost of the project include reducing the order of 42 sets of 6-car trains to 22 sets of 3-car trains.
Other key steps were reducing the construction size of the LRT train depot due to the significantly reduced number of LRT trains to be acquired; streamlining the size and design of the LRT stations based on Kelana Jaya LRT line standards instead of being benchmarked against the much larger Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations.
It also involves the shelving of the construction of five stations with very low projected passenger ridership until such a time the demand is deemed necessary for these stations to be built.
According to the statement, the 37 km LRT3 project is a critical project meant to alleviate the issue of traffic congestion along one of the most important and densely populated economic development corridors in the Klang Valley, from Klang to Petaling Jaya.
The new LRT line is expected to serve a 2-million population with the capacity to transport 36,700 passengers per hour each way.