It has been announced that the Light Rail Transit 3 (LRT3) project linking Bandar Utama to Klang will go ahead, but with development costs significantly reduced – the 37 km-long rail project will now be built at a cost of RM16.63 billion, a RM15 billion reduction from RM31.65 billion. The initial budget was RM10 billion, but project operator Prasarana released a statement last weekend saying that it was fully aware that the allocation was insufficient.

The cost reduction is being achieved via measures such as reducing the initial number of stations (five deferred, one cancelled) and streamlining their design as well as reducing the number of train sets – from 42 sets of six-car trains to 22 three-car sets – and postponing the completion date from 2020 to 2024.

The transport ministry, addressing issues raised on the changes made to accomodate the cost reduction, said that the revisions would not have an impact on the system’s ability to perform to expectations, and would translate to lower ticket prices for commuters, the Malay Mail reports.

It said the size of the stations and the capacity of the trains had been reduced and streamlined as Prasarana’s specifications were well above the necessary requirement of a LRT system and the projected ridership.

The ministry said the revised specification, such as using a three-car train instead of a six-car train, will be more than sufficient to cater to the current ridership demand. “During peak hours, the forecasted maximum number of passengers per hour per direction is 6,185 in year 2034. This ridership can be accommodated by 22 three-car trains which can carry 6,210 passengers per hour per direction,” it said via the statement.

It added that further three-car trains can be purchased to increase capacity to meet the demand after the year 2050, and said the LRT3 system was designed to be upgraded from the present interval of six minutes to the shortest interval of two minutes, which is able to accommodate ridership up to 18,630 passengers per hour at peak per direction.

In terms of the design of the train stations, the ministry said the current stations will be built to cater for four-car train-sets as they should be designed to cater to actual projected demand of passenger load. It refuted claims that a six-train set would be more comfortable to ride in, stating that the passenger loading will be below six passengers per metre square at all times, well within international standards.

It added that the 22 train set total is in accordance with international standards, which includes the provision for two train-sets being under maintenance and one train-set on standby.

It said the projected ridership for the provisional stations (Lien Hoe, Temasya, Persiaran Hishamuddin, SIRIM, Bukit Raja and Bandar Botani) would be below 1,500 passengers per day per station in 2020, but added that these stations would be built up progressively as ridership and demand increases.