Rangkaian Pengangkutan Integrasi Deras Sdn Bhd (RapidKL) isa Government of Malaysia-owned company that was established in 2004 in an effort to restructure public transport systems in the Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley area. Currently, it operates three light rail transit (LRT) lines, two mass rapid transit (MRT), a single monorail line, a bus rapid transit (BRT) as well as bus services in the capital city. While RapidKL operates the transit services, its assets are owned by another government-owned company, Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad (Prasarana), also formed under the restructuring process.
The current network under RapidKL spans about 170 km and details about the system have been provided in Table 1.
Although ridership across the RapidKL network suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic, daily ridership has bounced back, with an average of 700,000 passengers using the system during the second quarter of 2022. The target of 800,000 daily passengers is expected to be reached before the end of 2022.
RapidKL operates around 91.5 km of LRT, 64.5 km of MRT, and 8.6 km of monorail around the Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley area. The average ridership across all six lines that make up the RapidKL network is almost 650,000 daily passengers. Two MRT and LRT lines are also currently under construction.
Ampang Line and Sri Petaling Line
Network: The Ampang Line and the Sri Petaling Line (previously known as STAR LRT) span a total network of 45.1 km in the Klang Valley, operating on a common route from Sentul Timur station to Chan Sow Lin station. The network covers 36 elevated and at-grade stations. Both the lines are a part of the Klang Valley Integrated Transit System.
Technology: The lines were the first of their kind in Malaysia to operate on standard-gauge tracks and to use semi-automated trains when they were launched in 1996. The lines are equipped with the Thales SelTrac communications-based train control (CBTC) signalling system. Additionally, ASL has also provided its iVENCS 3D control systems.
Expansion plans: There are currently no concrete plans to extend the network any further. The last extension, from Sri Petaling to Putra Heights, opened in July 2016.
Kelana Jaya Line
Network: The Kelana Jaya Line (previously known as the PUTRA LRT) is a medium-capacity LRT line and is a part of the Klang Valley Integrated Transit System. The 46.4-km line is mostly elevated, with 31 stations located above ground, five stations located underground, and a single at-grade station.
Technology: The system was the first 100 per cent automated and driverless rail line in the Klang Valley when it was opened in 1998. Thales has deployed its SelTrac CBTC signalling system for the line.
Expansion plans: There are currently no concrete plans to extend the network any further. The last extension, from Kelana Jaya to Putra Heights, opened in July 2016.
Network: The 47-km MRT Kajang Line runs between Kwasa Damansara and Kajang, serving a corridor with 1.2 million residents. It is also a part of the Klang Valley Integrated Transit System.
Most of the line is elevated, with 22 stations out of 29 stations being above ground, while the remaining seven stations are underground. The average daily ridership on the line is about 215,000 passengers. According to RapidKL, this ridership is inadequate to cover the construction, operation, and maintenance costs. A target of 250,000 daily passengers is required for the line to break even with its operation costs.
Technology: The MRT Kajang Line, previously known as the Sungai Buloh–Kajang Line (SBK Line), is the second fully automated and driverless rail line in the Klang Valley after the Kelana Jaya Line. Bombardier Transportation has supplied its Cityflo 650 CBTC signalling system for the line. It is an automatic train control (ATC) solution which allows for driverless train operations.
Network: The Putrajaya Line, previously known as the Sungai Buloh–Serdang–Putrajaya Line (SSP Line), is the second MRT line in the Klang Valley.
Phase 1 of the line covers the 17.5-km route between Kwasa Damansara and Kampung Batu. It opened to passenger traffic in June 2022.
Technology: Similar to the Kajang and Kelana Jaya lines, operations on the Putrajaya Line are also 100 per cent automated. The line features an automatic train control (ATC) system, which allows for full bi-directional automatic control of trains over each track from the operations control centre (OCC) as well as provides interlocking to prevent conflicting train movements.
The traction and power supply is provided from Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) to Bulk Supply Substations (BSSs) at 132kV. A 33kV internal distribution network will supply high-voltage AC power to the traction and station power substations.
Expansion plans: Phase 2 will cover the remaining line from Kwasa Damansara to Putrajaya Sentral. It is expected to be operational in January 2023. This will take the total length of the line to 57.7 km. The line will have 37 stations, of which 11 will be underground. The stations are also expected to have feeder bus services.
Once fully operational, the system is expected to have a ridership of 533,000 passengers per day.
Network: The KL Monorail Line was opened in 2003 and was previously known as the Peoplemover Rapid Transit Line. It is part of the Klang Valley Integrated Transit System. The 8.6-km line consists of a single dual-way line that links areas of inner Kuala Lumpur that are not served by rail transport. The line has 11 elevated stations.
Technology: In 2014, the signalling system was upgraded from the Ansaldo ATP system to the Thales ETCS Level 1 system; the platform automatic gate system (PAGS) was installed; and new communication systems such as the private automatic branch exchange (PABX), closed circuit television (CCTV), and the passenger information display system (PIDS) were introduced.
Expansion plans: Although multiple expansion routes have been proposed, there are no concrete plans to expand the existing monorail system as yet. The last expansion on the line was completed in 2014, when the fleet was upgraded from two-section carriages to four-section carriages to increase passenger capacity.
The bus service is operated by Rapid Penang, the largest bus operator in the Klang Valley and a wholly owned subsidiary of RapidKL.
The bus service covers the Klang Valley and the Penang and Kuantan areas with a total of 112 normal routes and 69 MRT feeder bus routes.
The fleet comprises nearly 1,600 single- and double-decker buses. The average daily ridership is 300,000 passengers. The buses are a mixed fleet of European and Asian chassis, equipped with modern components and advanced safety features such as the auto interlocking door system. Information on destinations is displayed on the front, side, and rear electronic destination boards. Buses have low floors. Some buses are equipped with ultra-low flooring for disabled-friendly facilities such as a ramp and a wheelchair lock.
To solve first-mile coverage issues, Rapid KL is currently studying the feasibility of reintroducing the minibus service. Between 2019 and 2021, multiple trials were conducted on existing routes to assess the viability of re-deploying these buses. As of August 2022, no further announcements have been made.
In April 2022, Rapid KL commenced a three-month electric bus trial using four battery-operated BYD vehicles in an attempt to replace its diesel bus fleet with electric buses. The trial run is part of Rapid Bus’s Electrification Bus Programme transformation plan. The plan will be implemented in stages and is estimated to be completed by 2030.
Some electric buses are already in use on the BRT Sunway Line. There are currently 15 operational electric buses in RapidKL’s fleet. Most of these use the overnight charging method. However, to transition all of its existing vehicles to electric vehicles by 2030, the rate of procurement and deployment of electric buses needs to be increased.
BRT Sunway Line
The Sunway Line is the world’s first completely electric BRT system. The 5.4-km route has seven stations across the south-eastern suburbs of Petaling Jaya. The BRT buses have an exclusive right-of-way on an elevated guideway that is not shared with normal road traffic. The network is served by 15 electric buses, with a peak-hour frequency of 4 minutes on weekdays.
When the line opened in 2015, there was a push-back from commuters due to high fares. Several trials of free travel and half-price fares were conducted with positive results. During a free weekend travel trial conducted in 2015, ridership increased substantially to almost 12,000 hourly passengers.
In 2018, fares were reduced by 20 per cent. In 2019, the company introduced the My100 monthly pass to further reduce costs. This led to an overall 40 per cent growth in ridership, with the BRT recording almost 17,000 daily passengers in 2019.
To further increase ridership and to achieve 5,200 hourly passengers on the line by 2035, more measures for fare reduction will be needed for the BRT system.
The Touch ‘n’ Go smart card Acts as the common cashless ticketing system for all rail and bus lines in the Klang Valley. The card uses a MIFARE Classic microchip technology, allowing for shorter processing times.
The RapidKL concession card is also available for students, the elderly, and disabled people. It provides a 50 per cent discount on all train and bus fares.
Partnership with Moovit
In August 2020, RapidKL partnered with Moovit to provide multimodal journey planning and real-time bus information to commuters in the Klang Valley and in the Kuala Lumpur region. The Moovit app provides users real-time arrival information about RapidKL’s buses and trains as well as service alerts to help commuters avoid disruptions on usual routes, making journey planning easier and more seamless.
Increasing ridership: A Covid-19 recovery response
In June 2022, RapidKL launched its one-month free ride campaign across its transport networks in an attempt to improve ridership after the Covid-19-related slowdown. The initiative covered MRT, LRT, BRT, Monorail, and RapidKL buses.
During this period, ridership across all of RapidKL’s services increased by 16 per cent, to 765,743 daily passengers.
For rail services, there was an 18 per cent increase, recording 607,786 more passengers a day. BRT and bus services saw an 11 per cent increase, with 157,957 more daily passengers. Out of the total, about 68,304 additional active riders used RapidKL’s services.
However, sustaining the increased ridership from these programmes remain an obstacle in the long run. Commuters feedback on the RapidKl rail services have mentioned that issues related to last-mile connectivity, train frequency, and service breakdown still remain.
Two rail lines are currently under construction. When completed, both lines will also be operated by RapidKL. A third line is under planning.
Table 2 provides details about the planned systems of RapidKL.
Shah Alam Line
Network: The Shah Alam Line, also known as LRT3, is a medium-capacity LRT line that will serve the western section of the Klang Valley. The system will be fully automatic and will be a part of the Klang Valley Integrated Transit System. It is a key project aimed at increasing the modal share of public transport in the capital to 40 per cent by 2030. It is currently under construction.
The line will be mostly elevated, with only 2 km of the total line being underground. There will be 21 stations, all of them located above ground, as well as five planned stations to meet future needs. Construction is expected to cost USD4.07 billion. Route length, station details, and cost can change in the future.
Details about the rolling stock of the Shah Alam Line are given in Image 1.
Image 1: Details about the rolling stock of the Shah Alam Line
As of June 2022, progress on the line was more than 74 per cent completed and was on time for the line’s scheduled opening in 2024.
Technology: The line will be equipped with the latest technologies, including communications-based train control (CBTC) system, automatic train control (ATC) system, passenger information display system (PIDS), fire protection system, and closed-circuit television (CCTV) system.
Details about some of the key contractors are given in Table 3.
Putrajaya Line – Phase 2
Work is currently ongoing on the second phase of the MRT Putrajaya Line, covering the section between Kwasa Damansara and Putrajaya Sentral in the Klang Valley. Progress on the 34.7-km line is on schedule for the expected opening in January 2023. As of June 2022, almost 98 per cent of the work had been completed.
Network: The second phase will include the construction of 26 stations. Of these stations, one will be half-sunken, 14 will be elevated, and 11 will be underground.
Technology: Operations on the Putrajaya Line will be 100 per cent automated. The line will employ an automatic train control (ATC) system, which allows for full bi-directional automatic control of trains over each track from the operations control centre (OCC) as well as provides interlocking to prevent conflicting train movements.
The line will feature driverless automated 80 (20 four-carriage) Hyundai Rotem trains, with a capacity of 1,200 passengers. Trains will run at a frequency of 4 minutes (peak hours) and 6 minutes (off peak hours).
Details about the rolling stock of the Putrajaya Line are given in Image 2.
Image 2: Details about the rolling stock of the Putrajaya Line
Contractors: Details about some of the key contractors are given in Table 4.
Feeder buses: Work on the second phase will also include the deployment of Midi diesel buses operating from Serdang Depot. Plans to deploy electric buses specifically for Putrajaya with the option for implementing additional Cyberjaya City Centre routes are also being considered.
The Circle Line, also known as MRT3, is currently under planning. The fully automated and driverless MRT3 Line will run along the perimeter of Kuala Lumpur.
Construction work is scheduled to commence in 2023, with partial operations expected to begin in 2028. The line will be fully operational by 2030. The project will require an investment of RM31 billion, with an additional RM8.4 billion required for land acquisition. The project will be primarily funded through the Government of Malaysia’s Sukuk Programme, although green sukuk (Shariah-compliant investments in renewable energy and other environmental assets) are also being considered.
The timeline for the Circle Line project is given in Image 3.
Image 3: Timeline of the Circle Line/MRT3 project
Network: The 50.8-km-long Circle Line will be mostly elevated. It will have 31 stations, out of which seven will be underground. The route is subject to change in the future as work commences on the line.
Once completed, MRT3 will form the loop line of the Klang Valley Integrated Transit System.
Technology: Details regarding the signalling system and the rolling stock will be released once the tenders have been awarded.
Contractors: In August 2022, a JV company comprising HSS Integrated Sdn Bhd and HSS Engineering Sdn Bhd was appointed as the project management consultant (PMC) for the MRT3 Circle Line project.
Contracts for work on the line will be awarded by the fourth quarter of 2022.
In the last year, RapidKL services have experienced significant service disruptions. These include a major accident in 2021 when a manually driven LRT train collided with an automated train on the Kelana Jaya Line caused by driver negligence. In May 2022, the line faced four disruptions due to technical difficulties, while the Ampang and Sri Petaling lines experienced at least one service disruption each due to technical and power issues. Between April and May 2022, there were a total of 38 service disruptions caused by emergency brake deployment, with most of the issues involving tachometers and electronic units.
In light of this, the Government of Malaysia has allocated RM1.25 billion to improve the safety and service of RapidKL’s LRT systems. Out of the budget, RM450 million has been earmarked for 23 initiatives to improve the Kelana Jaya Line. These initiatives include a new system that detects stationary trains remotely, visible track markers and signages in tunnels, manual train operation within tunnels using two drivers, and periodic reports on safety issues. RapidKL is also working on migrating all radio communications to a digital system.
Around RM800 million has been allocated to finance level four maintenance, repair, and overhaul of the Bombardier 818 rolling stock. This will cover 112 cars (28 four-carriages cars). The average age of the rolling stock is 15 years, and the mid-life refurbishment will extend the lifespan and performance of the coaches.
Additionally, 140 tachometers will also be replaced, which is expected to cost RM5 million. There are plans to improve crisis management operations to reduce the effect of disruptions in train service on passengers. Several buses will be deployed at strategic stations such as Bangsar and Pasar Seni, to be used in case of a contingency or if train service is delayed by more than 15 minutes.
Similar refurbishments are also required for the Ampang and Sri Petaling lines, which are the oldest RapidKL systems. However, there are no concrete plans to overhaul the vehicles or the safety systems in the near future.
(1 RM [Malaysian Ringgit] = USD0.22)