The cancellation of the Railway double tracking and electrification project
Malaysia has one of the most extensive system of express highways in Southeast Asia. But still the roads are very congested.
Too many heavy vehicles such as container carriers and motorcar carriers clog the roads. Their numbers are increasing and container traffic from south Thailand add to the congestion.
Where double-tracking and electric trains have been introduced they have been very popular.
Car owners actually park their cars at train stations and use the commuter trains to get to and from their places of work. This also relieves the congestion on the roads.
We don’t have enough train users for high speed trains but double tracking and electrification can obviously improve the service and increase the speed sufficiently for our needs. In the near future trains would become more popular as road congestion will increase and slow down travel by road. We are putting nearly half a million motor vehicles on the road every year.
We did not foresee the massive increase in oil price but even if the increases are more gradual, we would still need to take off some of the passenger and container traffic from the highways and put them on the rail system. This could be done if we upgrade by double-tracking and electrification of the railways to cover the country from the south to the north.
When we proposed to extend the double-tracking and electrification from Johor Baru to Seremban and Rawang to Padang Besar, with a spur line to Kuala Lumpur to avoid congestion at the Central Station, it was not because we wanted to cater to the whims and fancies of the former Prime Minister but because we saw the need then and in the future.
Malaysia had a population of only 5 million when we became independent in 1957. By the 1990s our population was 20 million and growing fast. People were apparently more prosperous to go by the number of private cars sold every year. And they were travelling more.
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