Thursday, March 27, 2008

Underground train for Penang

Penang Tube. Those who miss London's Underground will envy Penangites soon. Their new CM says the state Government plans to build an Underground train network for the island.
It's a very ambitious project, certainly in the multi-billion ringgit league. The people I spoke to said it will cost more than KL's LRT and Monorail projects, combined.
And it would take more than 5 years to complete.
That is looking beyond one term.

Read the story HERE. pic is of Picaddily station in London.


  1. Anonymous2:40 pm

    In my opinion, Penang should not repeat the mistake that has been commited in KL. KL should have a Mass Rapid Transit instead of 2 LRT lines.

    How many pessengers can be fetched with monorail in a day? The policy maker should have a long sighted view.

  2. An underground transport system is a much better idea. If it should come to fruition it will be a plus for BN and BR, in that both are for the rakyat. Without the cooperation of both it will never happen. God BLESS MALAYSIA and let it happen

  3. Bro, I hope you don't end up being the DAP, PKR, PAS top spinner, the way Kali is for the BN

  4. Anonymous2:59 pm

    There must be a good reason why the Federal Government did not toy with the idea of a subway system for Penang. But then again if Singapore can do it, surely Penang can too.

  5. Anonymous3:06 pm

    if we can build KLCC and Putrajaya and Cyberjaya , why not this?

  6. Anonymous3:13 pm

    Whether it's a subway or an elevated system, the trains must be of considerable capacity and I agree with Chong, we should have MRTs operating in the Klang valley, not LRTs.

    And then proper planning must be done. Don't just use the old KTM track or TNB reserve land - just to save on land acquisition costs. RapidKL is now paying the price of the mistakes made in the past.

  7. Anonymous3:29 pm

    This idea is worth looking at. And I hope the federal govt will consider it's merits fairly rather than reject it outright just because the idea came from the "enemy".

  8. Anonymous3:53 pm

    It is massive and messy project. It is not going to be likely because it involves Federal funding and it can be sabotaged at federal level.

    The proposal is good but it is too massive and too complicated to implement. But if it can be done, credit will go to both state and federal government for being able to work together for the benefits of the rakyat.

  9. Anonymous3:54 pm

    I certainly hope that the state government don't simply propose solutions without getting expert opinion.

    Have they studied the population density of the routes, the loading factor, cost performance, price of ride RM/km etc.. etc.

    An ill-conceived system can bankrupt the state finances especially when you are faced with a hostile federal government. Moreover the state cannot stand guarantee to any loan without approval of the treasury.

    So DAP.. please manage the state. You are no longer in the opposition. Slogans are things of the past because now you have to govern and deliver.
    You are government!

  10. Anonymous4:00 pm

    why is it DAP has to follow PAP style? Take for example the underground train.
    Rather than build maybe rearranging should be the way to go?

  11. Anonymous4:12 pm

    It is a great idea that I've seen in many countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong.

    Penang can be a great states as singapore. In my opinion, a good and organised transportation really reflects the effienciencies and management of the government.

    It is not a bad ideas to have in penang but also need to take concern over to the the busese and taxi's operator too.

    Why not get a good planning on that...

  12. Anonymous4:13 pm

    Amazing changes planned so far...let's hope it's not all talk! From the looks of it, I may even move back there :)

  13. Anonymous4:19 pm

    Correct me if I am wrong but if I remember correctly, Singapore's MRT is not 100% underground. I have discussed about the idea of KL having an integrated subways like London with my husband but he said Malaysian weather and the frequent flash flood would not permit that. It would be a great idea but would it be practical is another issue. Some time last year, the Putra Line LRT was closed for a few hours due to the flood and many people (me included) were stuck in KL without much option. Hope it won't happen in Penang :)

  14. Anonymous4:48 pm

    If this plan successfully done, I'm sure that BN will never get back Penang. from what I've read from, Penang's New Govt are now trying their best for Penangites. Well done BR (PKR-PAS-DAP).

  15. Anonymous4:58 pm

    Very ambitious..but not imposible.. if this project been tendered openly, sure it will get competetive price instead of directly awarded to certain company, like what UMNO-BN government directly give projects to their cronies with 200% profit margin.. Penang is an island, how deep can the underground train be? its another factor..

  16. Anonymous5:24 pm

    In my opinion a MRT if better than LRT in long term as it can transport more people.

    If we have LRT, it is like the present Penang Bridge congested only after 10 years. And a second bridge is needed.

    If the planners have foresight they would have built a bridge with more lanes and two tier with railway lines below.

  17. Anonymous5:53 pm

    I think it's a bad idea for the following reasons:

    1. it's much costlier than above ground; better spend the additional money defrayed on more critical things like attracting investors and service providers to Penang again; that way, more people will have jobs and the state more revenue to spend on other income-generating projects for the rakyat;

    2. the cost will be so high that the extra amount spent beyond the above-ground mode would pay for the flood remediation and drainage schemes of the whole island, which was the other reason given for the proposal; after all, only some parts of the urban area get flooded ; one suspects it's due to the mini-sized drains.

    3. unlike shanghai or singapore, Penang doesn't have the critical mass nor the per capita disposable income to pay high ticket prices; this is the crux of the matter; better do the forecasts now, work out a pricing structure and then get USM to do a viability survey quickly before inking anything; you may find that the island's population density is nucleated at a few places: gelugor, air itam, etc. which means that short parts of the underground track will be subsidizing long parts of the track, and if it stretches to bayan lepas, then will it be 24x7 because factory workers do shifts, and if so what about the factory buses, maintenance costs, depreciation, interest charges?

    4. the other reason of above-ground mode endangering heritage buildings does not hold; how many are there along the identified potential routes? the track will at worst be ABOVE the road in front of say the Loh Boon Siew Mansion; it won't be going thru' it; and if it happens a heritage lies on the path of a must-have route, dissemble the heritage brick-by-brick and relocate it elsewhere; there are people who know how to do this; it won't happen that frequently.

    Where she's interesting, Penang was made for walking, that is until they chopped down those grand trees. You can have nasi kandar near the old cinema of penang road, then briskly walk to the coffee shop opposite rex theatre for steamed duck-soup noodle, then walk a short distance down burma road for malaysia's best mee goreng, then walk down further to pulau tikus for the best mamak mee rebus on this planet (all before things went downhill), after which you can detour to Gurney Drive for all the usuals, or take a bus to tg tokong for the crispiest goreng pisang.

    Having said that, get new mini-buses that don't spew so much fumes, and give them to those without jobs. The mini-buses fulfilled two functions before and should be revisited: they provide fast, convenient, comprehensive and cheap transport to the common folks, and they provide jobs to the dispossessed and marginalised. It's just a matter of putting in a speed-meter for the passengers to see.

    When the state has say ten billion ringgit surplus in its annual budget, then think bigger.

    Right now, the first and primary concern should be how to transform Penang into the next Singapore, Hong Kong or Taiwan SAR. Those places are however too serious to be fun attractors. And that's where Penang's potential can be = the funnest island on this planet.

    It's not necessary to be scammed by disneyland; Asia is rich in its own mythology and culture, folklore and heroes, which can be tapped for Asia's own themed entertainment park. Especially if you can put in other things for the whole family (eg mini-sub tour, healthcare tourism, MICE with a twist, spa-land, seafood hub, marina coves, cyberport-als etc.)

    There are plenty of other ideas; just settle down first on what Penang should be given her present situation, and how to get investors excited.

  18. Mydeen wonders why the monorail and the second bridge were panned as mega projects, but the subway isnt ?

    Was an overrated blogger involved in this ?

  19. Anonymous8:12 pm

    DAP mengada2 ..

  20. Anonymous8:15 pm

    Can I suggest that Penang use half underground and half on ground or all on the ground like the trams that have in cities like Manchester. Because they have a dedicated lane, they will not be caught in jams and will go at reasonable speed on ground with automatic safety devices...and its so accessible!

  21. Anonymous8:52 pm

    of course mah, mega projects like this will help to fill up the DAP coffers and ensure Penang does not fall back to BN in future.

    as far as the gomen of today concerned, only the skin changes.. the inside still the same. get the critical mass excited same time $$$$$...kill two birds with one stone.

    well, you get what you paid for and people get what they deserved.

  22. PENANG UnderGround Train.

    Brilliant idea by Lim Guan Eng!

    Thumbs Up!!!

    Samy Vellu and Kayveas, along with Ibelis Yusohh and Pak Dan can be the Site Supervisor in-charge of Bricks and Sand Digging.

    Make sure minimum pay applies on these workers to avoid "Global Demonstration".

    Only in Pak Lah land.... Pulau Pinang.

  23. Anonymous9:52 pm

    while we are at it..why not have the train connect to Butterworth via penang bridge,,since we are widening the bridge..can we also widen for the train track.

  24. Anonymous10:00 pm

    It cost Singapore SGD $5 Billion to build the 1st MRT Line in 1987.
    $6 Bil for North East Line in 2000 and $6.7 Bil for the current Circle Line project. It's gonna be great if Penang can do it. Singapore dig into the Budget/Surplus to finance the project and it's a gift to the nation, it means it is not borrowing money but the money is already there for the project.

  25. Aiyo..Why can't we just improve the bus system? Penang is not like Hong Kong or Singapore. Will the tickets be affordable?

    Why have to think so big.

    I miss the Penang with the grand old trees, the somewhat reliable buses and the roads/avenues that were made for walking...

  26. Anonymous10:57 pm

    I would say it's a good idea though the island don't have the mass like Hong Kong at this moment; but then again if Penang were to progress in the near future with all the high-rise condos and more factories within and across the island...why not? In fact, it would be a better idea if this underground tube run across to Prai n Juru... which is much more convenience and take the load off Penang breach which is always jam-pack! A good idea to ponder upon. Modernisation and progress draws in more population, soon Penang would be as populated as Singapore, coupled with an increase in tourism.

  27. Anonymous11:02 pm

    Frankly,for Penang to be exactly like Singapore it will not be easy.

    It took them almost 30 over years after their independence to be a developed and competitive nation.

    To be exactly like them will have to be exactly of similar brains of S'pore govt in terms of governing.

    It's not going to be done overnight.

  28. Tehsin, I couldn't agree more. It took me one hour or so to drive around Penang! For heaven's sake, Penang is such a small island! Promote cycling and walking instead! And efficient mini-buses! Think green, less pollution and healthier habits for all! Are we getting stupid people with big-headed ambition again?

  29. Anonymous12:00 am

    Depa ni tak pikiak kah setiap kali ada gempa di Sumatra, Penang dulu yang rasa dulu banding dgn negeri2 lain. Lebih baik benda yg nampak dari tak nampak.Kalau kos MRT di LKY Dinasty tahun 87 pun dah S$5B (1 phase),bayangkan la ni(20yrs later, wow!!!). Banyak yg sokong & compare dgn Singapore biar betul sikit, buat lah feasibilty study habih2 sebelum lingkup DUIT RAKYAT lagi,cukuplah BN punggah sampai kering dah pun. Amboi cepat sangat keluar idea ni, jangan2 semua dah pre planned lama dah!

  30. I think it's a fabulous idea.

    Cost wise aside, with the underground train, we do not even need the second bridge.

    Let's look at Penang's woes at the moment, too many are getting into Penang daily and too many are getting out... the bridge is jammed daily why, coz everyone had to use his car to get into/out of Penang. With the train, with its link to mainland, we do not need to drive into Penang. Hence traffic significantly reduced and like wise for pollution too....

    When we visit Singapore, how many of us actually drive around in our cars? Not many, in fact, many of us drive into SIngapore to the nearest MRT station or to our relatives' places then tour Singapore in their public transportation right? SO why can tourists in Penang do that too????

    With the mass transportation system workable, it's yet another attractive incentive to get foreign companies to set base in Penang.

    Why can't KL ave underground trains as well..... politics..... have to share the pie with too many cronies, that's why we have so many types of rail system...... ironic and stupid actually..... another reason, KL has huge underground limestone formations.... too much building material needed to strengthen the tunnels..... yet another reason, the warlords in KL turf are looking at short term measures to quickly fill up their pockets.... projects like MRT will not be feasibile for them to do that.....

    Also, the many heritage sites in Penang can be preserved too.... Granted, not all stations need to be underground.... some in the outskirt with high population can be above ground too.....

    Don't be confine to just thinking in the box..... BR do not intend to be in Penang for just 5 years...... we need to make Penang as successful as Singapore or even Hong Kong.....

    Penangites like Malaccan are very very proud of their heritage.... they are very resilient and believe me, if BR can make Penangites believe it can work, it will work.

  31. Anonymous2:36 am

    what's so special about having underground train?

    i had enough with moscow's metro.

  32. Anonymous2:48 am

    Bad idea. We should just work on improving the current RapidPenang bus service by consolidating the other companies, adding more buses, scrapping/selling the junk ones, and making sure the service sticks to the schedule. Penang doesn't have the size, population, density, and distance to make a subway costworthy.

    And as a commentor said, there will be too many heritage buildings in the way when it comes to the Downtown Georgetown area. Land acquisition & buyouts are also gonna be a real messy affair.

  33. Anonymous2:49 am

    hmm, would cost more 'rakyat' money. the money should be spent on the poor. Spend more on education by giving more study loans or scholarship to those in need.

    The promises before GE was to improve the life of the people especially the poor but it looks like, now its gonna be another BN with a facelift.

  34. Anonymous3:28 am

    my dear friends
    1st) Penang is and island and a old city and therefore it does not have the luxury of wide spacious roads for above the ground MRT systems, therefore MRT is to be underground. Given the condition of underground air-pockets and soil conditions coupled with frequent tremors due to earthquakes in the neighbouring fault lines the cost of any underground system will at best 3 to 4 times a elevated system.
    no2).its a myth that carrying capacity of monorails are small. They have many lines in japan that have big capacity including Tokyo to Haneda airport fact the Kl monorail has current capacity of 90,000 people a day and thats because they are limited by number of cars.If the new available lighter and bigger capacity cars running at more frequent rate at say 2min interval, the capacity of Kl Monorail goes up to 960,000 passngersper day . capacity of monorail today are making LRTs redundant. so capacity issues
    3. monorail can go underground therfore no issues
    4.monorails turning radius is one of the key reason that they are superior for tight congested cities like Penang.Several major cities lie dubai, miami,Bologna,daegu korea,
    5 an elevated system will continue to allow free right of way on the ground for vehicles and pedestrians
    6 .A 6car monorail system takes away about 17buses from each route , therefore a 10 set system will remove 340 buses from the roads for both directions, thereby freeing the road for more cyclists and pedestrians and REDUCING POLLUTION.
    7 Energy friendly as it runs on electricity and the future is Maglave,the monorail is now being toutedas the GREEN transit solution for the URBAN MILLIENIUN where more 50 % live in Cities.
    8).Its a city shaping sysytem and not a city destroying system.It blends with the restrictions in the city
    Exclusive tracks
    No collisions with other vehicles
    Minimal derailment possibility
    Simple construction process
    Shorter construction time
    Capital costs on par with light rail)
    An enhancement rather than detriment to environment
    Narrow track fit congested area
    Operate at 99.9% reliability
    Rubber tyres get little wear on smooth running guideways
    100,000 miles before tyre replacement
    In fact kl monorail needs newer and more train than the now . its full in its seams.

  35. Council to rethink transit options

    Technologies including Advanced Public Transportation Systems’ rubber-tire-on-concrete proposal are back in the running for Honolulu’s fixed-guideway transit system. The City Council last night voted unanimously to consider rubber-tire-on-concrete, as well as magnetic levitation and steel-on-steel technology, which had been endorsed last month by the council.

    The City Council decided last night to reconsider whether Honolulu's planned $3.7 billion mass transit system will use rubber wheels, steel wheels or no wheels.

    The move comes about a month after a council committee had endorsed steel wheels on steel rail as the preferred technology.

    The City Council voted unanimously to consider magnetic levitation, rubber on concrete and steel technology for the project.

    The change follows concern that steel technology could cause noise problems for neighbors of the elevated commuter rail and possibly hurt property values.

    By keeping the other technology options alive, "We will be able to look further (into) the implication of this technology," said Councilman Romy Cachola. "What it does is (allow us to see if) there is a better technology that works to address noise better, or (that's) not going to negatively impact property values."

    Mayor Mufi Hannemann said while he was pleased the council voted 9-0 to advance the project.


    Steel wheel and rail was recommended by a council-appointed panel for its reliability, capability, cost and rider comfort. However, four of five panelists who made the recommendation in February also rated steel technology as the noisiest alternative compared with rubber on concrete, magnetic levitation and monorail technologies.


    The council's vote followed nearly seven hours of testimony on issues such as the project's impact on noise, property values and traffic.

    The proposed elevated rail would link East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center.

    Some of the discussion focused on whether steel-on-steel technology could pose problems for some residents near the elevated tracks, where trains will pass at up to 55 mph about 400 times a day from 4 a.m. to midnight.

    Mark Smith, vice president for Citizens Against Noise of Hawaii, urged the council to more thoroughly study the noise impacts of alternative technologies such as rubber tires on concrete, magnetic levitation and monorail before making a decision.

    "Not all noise is created equal," he said. "The noise of steel wheels on steel rails makes a high-pitch noise that is particularly disconcerting.

    "I don't think that anyone of us knows what will become of tourism in this island in our state if we install a rail system that is noisy. Are we willing to take that chance?"

    Numerous testifiers felt the city should stick with steel technology.

    "By selecting that independent panel I implore you to abide by their recommendation," said Honolulu real estate attorney Kenneth Wong. "I believe the steel rail technology is really a proven technology. It's really good for Honolulu."

    Kurt Fevella of 'Ewa Beach agreed.

    "We should stick with the professional panel because the majority of you guys chose the professional panel," he said. "We should move on already."

    2009 TARGET

    The City Council is expected to vote on the matter two more times. The next vote likely will come in early April, though no date has been set.

    The city wants to decide on the type of vehicle before drafting an environmental impact statement and applying for federal transit money. Hannemann hopes to break ground on the project in 2009, with the first segment starting service between East Kapolei and Waipahu in 2012.

    Steel-on-steel technology proponents contend that modern rail technology won't pose noise issues that cannot be mitigated.

    Still, the city's consultant, New York-based Parsons Brinckerhoff, has identified steel technology as the noisiest alternative when compared with monorail and magnetic levitation technology in a May 2007 report. The consultant did not evaluate the potential noise impact of rubber-tired bus technology.

    Steel-wheel-based train noise could be limited by building a 3- to 5-foot wall along the sides of the nearly 30-foot-high track, according to Parsons Brinckerhoff.

  36. Anonymous8:06 am

    I am delighted that the Penang Govt is really looking far ahead. Just observed most of the developed countries. MRT contributes alot to the mass transportation system. Yes, it maybe expensive but then Putrajaya is even more expensive. Benefit/Cost wise definitely on the plus. Why?? look at our neigbour. They have proven it.

  37. I love my island....just choose the best public mass transportation that does the least havoc to our beutiful place!!!!

  38. Anonymous4:48 pm

    Who is going to pay for this project?

    The Penang state govt? Where are they going to get the funds from?

    They can't borrow from the banks without a federal govt guarantee. Ditto for issuing bonds?

    Or will they go the BOT (build-operate-transfer) route? Which foreign contractor will be comfortable contracting with a state govt that may be turfed out 5 years from now?

    Comparisons between Penang and Spore are facile, but ultimately useless. Spore is a sovereign independent country, with a "triple AAA" credit rating and US$300-400 billion in reserves. Penang.....?

    The DAP would be better off getting the basics in Penang right - buses, taxis, roads, bus stops, car parks etc. At the end of the day, people want a cheap and efficient way to move around - either cars or public transport.

  39. The idea of Penang Tube is a stupid idea that should not being spoken by the new CM. Sadly, Guan Eng also infected with mega-project sickness of BN leaders.

    Guan Eng should first tweak and fine tune of the existed public bus fleet. For everybody information, the private bus company either in KL or Penang are taking "anti-consumer" action against RapidKL price structure and "samseng" attitute toward RapidPenang.

    Personally, Penang should introduce trolley buses, that is popular in europe, since Penang is a hilly island, that make rail does not suitable.

  40. Anonymous3:04 pm

    I support Penang govt's move to have an underground transport system. good things come at a price, and if its multi-billion, so be it.

    Penang deserve good transport system. go for it!


  41. Anonymous9:30 pm

    Sori guys
    I nak tambah sikit lah.. CM Lim dah nampak apa akan jadi in 20years time. Thats a foresight leader. Yg penting its a positive development. Hang kalau tak caya.. hang tengok je in 2028. Jangan kata nak naik bas tak dapat....MRT kalau ada, macam sardine.Macam kat Jepun.
    Buat sikit2 dulu lah...say 10 stations first.. lepas tu kalau dah suka ..keliling pulau lah.

  42. Anonymous7:10 am

    i LOVE penang, can i invest in the subway, PLEASE mr. LGE, PLEASElah !!

  43. Anonymous7:14 am

    I am an ipoh guy but I would to invest in the underground train project !!

  44. Anonymous3:55 pm

    I am interested to invest to build MRT for Penang. I'm a Penangite and cuurently looking potential projects for my hometown. I would prefer on the ground rather than subway, the maintenance cost much higher instead. Also the flood in Penang is still out of control and government needs to look into this matter.