Construction of the Kuching Light Rail Transit (LRT) project is anticipated to begin sometime next year, and the service is scheduled to begin operating sometime in 2024. Sarawak chief minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said work on the rail project will start once a review – based on the current traffic scenario, demands as well as transit corridors – is concluded, Bernama reports.

Initial details of the RM10.7 billion project were revealed yesterday. The Kuching LRT will consist of three major lines, with a total length of 155.2 km. Line one is a 62.4 km-long stretch from Kota Samarahan to Damai via Sungai Batu. The route – which will have 28 stations – will cover 48% of current travel demands for the city of Kuching.

Line two will be the Serian-Senari route, which will be approximately 82 km in length. The line, which will cover 30% of current travel demand for Kuching, will start in Serian via Siburan and terminate at Senari. It will have 26 stations across the route, with an interchange station for the Kota Samarahan-Damai track being located at the Simpang Tiga roundabout.

Line three will be a 10.8 km-long City Dispersal Line. Connecting 13 stations, this will be an at-grade tram system. The tram option has been selected for its better ability to navigate urban streets and offer less intrusive stops.

The total construction cost of the Kota Samarahan-Damai route – including that of rolling stock – is estimated to be RM4.5 billion, while the Serian-Senari route will cost RM5.4 billion to build. As for the City Dispersal Line, construction cost is projected to be RM819 million. The trains operating on the service will employ hydrogen fuel cell technology, said to be the first implementation of the type in the region.

Abang Johari said the LRT will increase the levels of efficient mobility in Kuching city. “At the same time, it will help to transform Kuching into a more dynamic and competitive city, as well as creating more jobs. The LRT will create new transit oriented development (TOD), traversing and linking dense residential areas, businesses, industrial areas, tourist hotspots, thus driving the economic development in Kuching,” he said.