KUALA LUMPUR: Plans are afoot to improve the rail industry, which will include a procurement policy that will prioritise qualified local companies to undertake projects, says Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.
“This is timely because the development of rail projects in Asean is rapidly developing and we need to seize the opportunity to penetrate the Asean market,” said Dr Wee.
The Cabinet, he added, has agreed to rebrand the National Rail Centre of Excellence (NRCOE) as an organisation known as the Malaysian Rail Development Corporation (MRDC).
The MRDC will fall under the purview of the Transport Ministry and will act as an integrated and planned coordinating body to develop the rail industry.
“The MRDC will be developing professional, skilled and semi-skilled talent in the rail industry, improving standards, assuring quality as well as coordinating rail technology studies and research by higher learning institutions through collaboration with local industry players in order to keep up with the needs of the industry,” said Dr Wee at the launch of the Rail Technology Expo (RTX) at KL Sentral yesterday.
MRDC will be a company limited by guarantee (CLBG), where it will function with the support of Putrajaya.
On another matter, noting that the international rail industry has begun implementing carbon footprint reduction measures, Dr Wee said it is time for local players to implement similar measures.
“It (carbon footprint reduction measures) will also help the country achieve an unconditional 45% reduction in carbon intensity of the gross domestic product by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2050.
“I hope in future, local industry players will support the maintenance and repair of rail assets and increase the lifespan and operability of rail assets to up to 30 to 40 years, so we can reduce the outflow of money from the country and provide savings to the government,” he added.
On the RTX which will take place until Aug 14, it has the participation of 55 companies consisting of government agencies, local and international companies, as well as higher learning institutions.
There are also 12 companies involved in a mini career carnival in RTX.
Dr Wee said the RTX event was to allow the public to better understand rail technology and to involve them in efforts to develop the rail transport sector through brainstorming sessions, businesses matching activities and various seminars.
The RTX is organised by the Transport Ministry in collaboration with the NRCOE, the Malaysia Rail Industry Corporation and the Technology Depository Agency (TDA).
From October, Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) Asean Express cargo train service will connect Malaysia, Thailand and Laos, providing a wider range of cargo transport options.
The first dry run yesterday was conducted after the train left Kuala Lumpur KTM station at 5pm.
Dr Wee flagged off the train, which is scheduled to complete its 2,206km trip from Malaysia to Laos within 72 hours.
In a statement, KTMB said the Asean Express is slated to be commercially operational in October.
“With the proposed two trips per week frequency, the Asean Express will offer a one-way cargo capacity of 80 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) per week.
“From Tanaleng in Laos, the cargo brought by the Asean Express will have connections to Chinese provinces such as Kunming, Chengdu and also to Chongqing via Vientiane,” it said.
The Asean Express will offer an alternative transportation mode for Chinese exporters that have traditionally relied on sea routes.
“It will also make Malaysian ports in Penang, Klang and Tanjung Pelepas as entry and exit points for South China cargo,” it said.