The MRT Line 3 (MRT3), also known as the MRT Circle Line, which was postponed when Pakatan Harapan came into power, is being reviewed and the government is studying various funding options, Starbiz reports.
The goal is to lower costs, and the report mentions the option of getting property developers and owners to partially fund the project. The experts they spoke to mentioned a “Rail plus Property” model seen in Singapore and Hong Kong, which could see the private sector partially fund the project, since the government can’t fully do so on its own.
The report adds that consultants have been appointed to find a suitable model, and a decision on the MRT3 project will be made in middle of next year.
“The project was suspended primarily because of the cost factor. But we are prepared to review the project,” transport minister Anthony Loke told StarBiz, adding that the finance ministry has shown willingness to discuss the project.
Loke said that from his ministry’s point of view, MRT3 is important as it will complete the rail network in the Klang Valley. However, the country’s fiscal position will have to be taken into consideration.
“The review is on the premise that the cost has to be lowered. How it will be lowered is a subject of discussion. It will be a new mechanism and a new model of development if ever we proceed with the project to make it cost effective and higher in terms of return on investment,” he told The Star‘s business section, adding that “we hope we can reach a decision by mid-2020, that is six months down the road.”
Following the MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang line and MRT Sungai Buloh–Serdang–Putrajaya line, the MRT Circle Line in its original form was supposed to be a fully automated and driverless rail system extension forming a loop line of the Klang Valley integrated transit system. Targeted for completion by 2025, the 40 km-long MRT3 was meant to provide coverage in areas surrounding Bandar Malaysia, Ampang, KL Ecocity, Bukit Kiara and Sentul. Connecting the dots, it would have been the finishing line for the city’s rail network.
Of the 26 planned stations, 19 are underground and the cost of underground stations are much higher than at those above ground. About 60% of the project involves tunnelling works, the report says.
Experts Starbiz talked to believe that for the MRT3 to proceed, there needs to be a public-private partnership where land owners and property developers work together with the government to develop infrastructure.
“The study done by the consultants will draft the alignment for certain stations and it will be vastly different from the existing model. Often the connections are afterthoughts, but this time around it is during the planning that the locations will be integrated by asking the developers to contribute the construction.
“This is a framework that the new review may be based on and it will identify tangible benefits, and it can be for existing and new property developments. It is not just alignment but land value capture and we can learn from the Singapore and Hong Kong models. They have set the benchmark,” the report’s source said.
In this model, the developers will have to help partially fund the connection to their buildings and trend has shown that existing MRT stations are strong selling points for new and existing property developments. This will boost property values (TOD concept, 100 metres from MRT station, direct link to MRT and so on) and increase footfall for shopping malls. This win-win method could be the way forward.