KUALA LUMPUR: Construction of the RM8 billion electrified double-tracking project (EDTP) from Gemas to Johor Baru will start next year before the high speed rail (HSR) project linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore takes off.
Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chief executive officer Mohd Nur Ismal Kamal said the HSR project will take longer to start as the awarding of contracts will start only in the latter part of next year.
The Gemas to Johor Baru EDTP project, involving around 200km of double-track on existing alignment, is among the key projects highlighted by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the 2014 Budget.
Mohd Nur Ismal said both projects are important in cutting travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Johor Baru, introducing regional KTM services to serve Penang, Kedah and Johor, and increasing freight by rail.
"It will be very similar to the Klang Valley KTM Komuter services. I can't comment on the cost for the projects. The Transport Ministry will award the contracts," he said yesterday.
Nur Ikmal Ismal said the ministry has completed the Gemas-Johor Baru EDTP study and SPAD will review the railway scheme that it submitted.
"The Gemas-Johor Baru and the HSR projects are different. They will each have their own alignment."
The Gemas-Johor Baru line development will complete the entire EDTP network.
The government has awarded EDTP contracts for the Ipoh-Padang Besar stretch, worth RM12.5 billion, to the MMC-Gamuda joint venture, and the Seremban-Gemas stretch, worth RM3.45 billion, to India's Ircon International Ltd. Both are ongoing.
The Rawang-Ipoh stretch was completed in 2008.
Meanwhile, Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd group managing director Datuk Shahril Mokhtar said he had hoped for allocation under the 2014 Budget for stage buses as this segment of public transport is facing tremendous challenges.
He said there was an urgent need to address the rising cost of tyres, spare parts and diesel.
On the extension of the light rail transit system to Port Klang, Shahril said he is unable to comment unless the feasibility study is completed and submitted to the authorities for approval.