No need for high-cost transport projects, says group

Transport body says the East Coast Rail Link serves a low-demand corridor.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian branch of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT-M) has called for the new Pakatan Harapan government to reconsider proceeding with high-cost transport infrastructure projects.

The body cited the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), KL-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) and Penang Tunnel in particular as requiring closer scrutiny.

“Being massive transport infrastructure projects, they all require equally massive funding from the public purse.

“However, their initial assessments do not reflect high levels of economic benefits.

“ECRL serves a very low demand corridor, HSR will have a negative impact on air travel/KLIA airport demand, while the Penang Tunnel will induce more car travel and will lead to massive traffic gridlocks in Penang Island, a very damaging environmental impact to such a liveable heritage city,” CILT-M vice-president Rosli Khan said in a statement today.

He added that the new government should only proceed with projects that would really bring maximum benefits to the region and the people that it intends to serve, “at a reasonable cost”.

Rosli then made the case for Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) to be at the forefront of various transport needs in the country.

“We are fully aware that, at the moment, our KTM rail capacity has been expanded with double tracking.

“However, its utilisation factor remains low and services have left much to be desired.”

He said that the existing rail system should in particular be used more extensively for long-distance freight traffic.

“Instead, the highways, although more costly, are inefficiently serving this market, resulting in highway congestion and accompanied by a high rate of highway accidents caused by trailers and lorries.

“Similarly, passenger rail services have not been successful in countering the high usage of private cars for long-distance travel,” Rosli said.

He added that this situation warrants more urgent attention rather than embarking on new and massive infrastructure projects that are overly expensive and of little use and benefit to the people.