Comparing Penang and KL’s LRT projects flawed, says exco

Chow-Kon-YeowGEORGE TOWN: A rough comparison of the construction cost of the Penang light-rail transit (LRT) project with one in the Klang Valley is flawed, says a state government official.

State executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow said there were differences in land acquisition costs, soil conditions and number of stations per kilometre.

Chow said the price tag of RM8.4 billion for the 24km Penang LRT line included the land acquisition cost of RM1 billion.

An earlier figure of RM7 billion was rounded down from RM7.4 billion and comprised just the construction cost, he said.

He broke down the RM8.4 billion cost to construction costs, land acquisition, and other costs such as design and supervision fee, and other fees.

“There are more stations per km for the Bayan Lepas LRT at approximately 1km per station compared with LRT3 (in the Klang Valley) of approximately 1.4km per station.

“Almost 50% of the Bayan Lepas LRT alignment is sited on poor coastal ground conditions.

“Further efforts to compare costs between projects is not constructive and will only serve to confuse the public, as each project will have unique features that are distinctive from the project it is compared against,” he said in a statement today.

Penang MCA Youth chief Michael Lee had said the Komtar-Bayan Lepas LRT project was more expensive than the LRT3 project while a planned north-south highway on the island was also too expensive.

Work on the 37km Bandar Utama-Klang LRT3 project is expected to begin early next year at a cost of RM9 billion and is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2020. It will have 26 stations.

As for the PIL 1 Highway (Gurney Drive to Bayan Lepas Expressway), Chow said the high cost was due to the many tunnels required along its alignment.

“Similar to LRT, the estimated construction costs for PIL 1 will be different from other highway projects because about 40% of the alignment consists of tunnels.

“The construction cost is estimated based on preliminary studies during the request for proposal stage.

“The actual cost can only be determined when the work packages are tendered out,” he said.

Lee said Penang’s Komtar-Bayan Lepas LRT line would cost RM280mil per km, compared to RM243mil per km in the LRT3 project.

Lee also said the PIL 1’s cost was cause for concern as it was about RM17 billion.

“That means the expressway will cost RM8.6bil. It is 19.5km long and so the cost is shockingly high at RM441mil per km,” he reportedly said.

The two projects are part of the Penang Transport Master Plan, which proposes light rail transit, monorail and tram lines, bus services and new highways.

It was initially projected to cost RM27 billion in 2011, during a concept stage study. The figure was revised to RM46 billion after additional projects were added.

It will be financed through the creation of man-made islands south of Penang Island. The reclamation is yet to begin pending regulatory approval from the federal government.