This is quite a bit outside the normal topics covered here, but a recent question in another thread asked about how the KL Monorail was doing. Here is a response from a regular reader, Moaz Yusuf Ahmad. Thanks to him for providing this info.
I would be happy to respond to Ben’s question about the KL Monorail.
The original design for the monorail was to provide a people mover service through the different sections of the KL Linear City, as well as providing public transport through the “Golden Triangle” of Kuala Lumpur.
Side note: KL Linear City was a project to beautify the Klang River, one of the 2 major rivers that flows through Kuala Lumpur. The plan was to sell the air rights and riverside of some sections of the river to developers, who would put malls, apartments, condos, and parking (in sections) along this land. The river would then be cleaned up by the developer.
The original intention was to extend the monorail further into the south of Kuala Lumpur. However, the KL Linear City and Monorail were delayed by the 1997 Financial crisis.
KL Linear city never recovered. Some of the riverside developments were built but remain abandoned today. Fortunately, no projects were built over the river although the Monorail company did mention this back in 2005.
Anyways, back to the monorail – the Malaysian government stepped in and bought the rights to the monorail design. They also cut the costs for the monorail by removing the southern extension, eliminating one station, and cutting out things like evacuation walkways and lifts.
The monorail was completed and opened in 2003 running from “KL Sentral” station (the site is actually located 300 m away from the station in the Brickfields neighbourhood).
Currently the monorail runs with 2-carriage trainsets. Stations have a capacity for 4-carriage trains but there has been no clear announcements about expanding the system except for an overly ambitious proposal from the monorail company that was launched back in 2005.
(As another aside, my comments and response to that proposal are probably what got me interested in pursuing transit-related issues while I was in Malaysia)
The original company that built the monorail was taken over by a conglomerate called Scomi and is now operating as a division within that conglomerate. They have designed a new monorail called the SUTRA – Scomi Urban Transit Rail Application (SUTRA also means “silk” in Malay/Indonesian) which has 2, 4 and 8 carriage options.
Currently Scomi is working on marketing the new monorail design for projects in India and Vietnam, rather than here in Malaysia. Even my calls for them to supply trains for an expanded monorail system fell on deaf ears.
The KL Monorail operating company also has new ownership – they were taken over by the government in December 2007 and are now a division of Prasarana, the National Infrastructure Company.
Prasarana also owns the assets (railcars, stations, buses) of the other LRT lines in KL – which are operated by a sister company, RapidKL. When Prasarana took over the monorail they created another company, KL Starrail to run the monorail – instead of having RapidKL run it.
So there you have it. Corporate and government shenanigans and no serious improvements to the monorail service since 2003. This despite Scomi of Malaysia being ‘recognized’ as one of the ‘3 major monorail manufacturers’ of the world.
Our ART Mark II-based ‘LRT’ line is another story for another date. But if you are interested in photos or documents about the original monorail line or the KL Linear City please let me know. I have good contacts with one of the original architects.
Regards, Moaz Yusuf Ahmad
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Moaz Yusuf Ahmad