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Yesterday, Express Rail Link (ERL) announced that fares for its KLIA Express and KLIA Transit rail services were set to be increased on January 1. From next year, the fare for a one-way trip on the KLIA Express will be RM55, an increase of RM20 from the current rate.

In follow-up reports, ERL has said that the fare hike for one-way trips to KLIA is necessary to keep the company sustainable. It said the RM20 increase for one-way tickets between KL Sentral and KLIA/KLIA2 was needed because it faced increasing costs, The Star reports.

“The fare revision announced yesterday was necessary to ensure that it remains sustainable in the face of rising operating costs,” ERL said. The company added that the ERL project was implemented at a cost of RM2.4 billion, and it had been suffering losses over the years amounting to RM671.7 million.

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The company also said that new operating costs would be coming into play, ERL having invested in new train sets – from May next year, six new trains will be progressively delivered, which will increase ERL’s capacity by 50%.

Meanwhile, Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said ERL had justified the increase saying that stagnant fares had resulted in losses, and that operating costs had doubled since it first began operations 14 years ago.

According to Malay Mail Online, Kaprawi said that the 57% increase in the KLIA Express fare would mainly affect foreign visitors, and not local or frequent travellers. “The published fares are basically for foreigners, people who don’t use it often,” he told reporters. He added that the hike will be mitigated by travel card packages and discounts.

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In response to why the sudden fare hike was approved by the Cabinet instead of an incremental increase, he said that would best be answered by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD).

In related news, ERL has admitted its direct rail service fare to to KLIA is not the lowest in the world, which it had stated in yesterday’s fare increase announcement. It said that despite the increase, the service still offered the lowest airport rail transfer fare globally.

Following allegations circling in social media contradicting the claim, the company clarified that the KLIA Express service is the second lowest fare per kilometre in the world, The Sun reports. The concessionaire told the publication that the distance of ERL track from the city centre to KLIA2 is 59 km, with cost of travel per km being 93 sen under the new RM55 fare structure. This makes it the second lowest after Moscow Aeroexpress, which has a fare of RUB470 (RM29.70), or 60 cents per km, running over 49 km of track.