Penang’s LRT alignment headed for revamp as Transport Ministry takes over

The newly completed phase of Gurney Bay on reclaimed land may be complemented by a rail bridge over the Penang Channel for the LRT service to link the island to Butterworth. YouTube – SCM Southern Corridor Malaysia screen grab

The new design may include a rail bridge across the channel

Published on 13 Feb 2024

PENANG Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow has acknowledged that there will likely be modifications to the proposed alignment of the RM10 billion light rail transit (LRT) system following the takeover of the strategic infrastructure project by the Transport Ministry.

In view of this, Chow alluded to the possibility that the project will not begin construction by this year due to the need to conduct more feasibility studies and assessments, not to mention taking into account input from various quarters.

In its original format the island rail service was planned to link the Komtar government administrative complex to the Penang International Airport at Bayan Lepas in the south.

Recently, the alignment was also stretched northwest towards to the affluent suburban area of Tanjung Bungah.

There was also the proposed underground link around George Town, which has since been scrapped.

There is now an idea to build a rail bridge over the Penang Channel to enable the LRT to run from George Town to Butterworth.

Chow told a media briefing this after attending the Penang DAP Chinese New Year open house, which was hosted by the party’s Bukit Mertajam division at the Dewan Ng Yam Huat.

He said that the LRT will see a cross-channel link in the form of the rail bridge from the island directly to Penang Sentral, which is the main hub for express buses, ride-sharing services, and KTM Bhd trains in the northern region.

The LRT project was previously spearheaded by the state government with SRS Consortium appointed as a consultant before the MRT Corp took over the project.

In view of impending changes to the alignment, Chow expressed hope that consideration for the project will be fast if it begins this year, given the many technical and financial issues to be studied first.

“A cabinet paper would now need to be tabled to get its green light and guidance for the next step,” he said.

It was even suggested that the LRT be extended on the mainland to run through Seberang Prai, connecting Kepala Batas in the north to Seberang Jaya and Bukit Mertajam.

Earlier, state DAP vice-chairman Zairil Khir Johari, who is the state executive councilor for infrastructure and transport, said that the Year of the Dragon means for Penang “the year of infrastructure” as the state is commencing many projects mooted since 2009.

Phase One of the huge Gurney Bay recreational park on reclaimed land was recently unveiled to the public a few days before the Chinese New Year weekend.

Some other projects are ongoing. They include the construction of the bypass from Air Itam to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway. Plans are underway to link Gurney Drive to the same expressway bypass.

There are also ongoing works to establish the Silicon Island mega reclamation project off Batu Maung near the international airport.

Meanwhile, state DAP deputy chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo in his address to the packed hall described Chow as a patient leader, alluding to the rash of challenges which the chief minister has faced, from a major water disruption exercise to controversy over shoddy workmanship at Gurney Bay.

“But he gets things done. He is a hands-on leader,” said Jagdeep, who is Penang deputy chief minister II.

Jagdeep also called for patience among road users following complaints about the Gurney Bay project, which has resulted in more congestion around the area.

“It takes time to marshal an orderly traffic flow. Patience is needed here,” he said. – The Vibes, February 13, 2024

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