The Greater KL metropolitan area which comprises of 10 high density economic hubs, stretches from Selayang/Sungei Buloh in the north to Sepang in the south. It is currently home to a population of about 7 million. Urbanisation as well as the government’s transformation plans to upgrade the city’s liveability and spur economic development is expected to grow the population by 5% each year.
Cost efficient connectivity within Greater KL as well as with other hubs in the region is critical for productivity and sustainable growth. The upgrading of Greater KL’s connectivity to that of a world class city will be implemented through two massive transportation projects. The first being the deployment of a High Speed Rail (HSR) linking Greater KL to Iskandar Malaysia and to Singapore to enhance regional connectivity. Concurrently intra-city connectivity will be improved via an integrated network consisting of MRT, LRT as well BRT lines that will take city travel to a new level of efficiency.
Greater KL’s enhanced connectivity will have a huge impact on the country’s economy contributed to a large extent by the expected increase in domestic and international tourism. In 2012, the country’s tourism sector generated a turnover of RM60.6 billion with 25.3 million arrivals. By 2020 with the completion of the HSR link and the new MRT lines becoming fully operational, tourist arrivals is projected to increase to 36 million generating an income of RM168 billion.
HSR to increase monthly frequency of travel between Singapore and KL by up to six times
The proposed HSR link will connect two of Southeast Asia’s most progressive cities paving the way for greater economic focus. It will cover a journey of 330km between the two cities with stations in Seremban, Air Keroh, Muar and Iskandar. The link will also complement another rail project, Rapid Transit System Link between Singapore’s Thomson Line and Johor Bahru. Door to door travel via the HSR is estimated to be about 1.5 to 2 hours, almost 2 hours shorter than air travel.
Today over 9.2 million trips are made each year between the two cities with almost 68% attributed to road travel. In a 2010 survey conducted by the Economic Planning Unit involving KL-Singapore commuters at KLIA, LCCT and Skypark terminals indicated that the business travellers amongst them would increase their average monthly frequency of travel by 3 times whilst leisure travelers would increase their average monthly frequency to 6 times if the HSR service was operational. During the recent Edge Investment Forum on Real Estate 2013, panelist Nor Azam M. Talib, senior vice president of Corporate Business said, “The HSR would create more movement and activity in the areas between the two economic hubs when it is completed. The benefits to the tourism sector would be huge. With the HSR stopping at both Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport, the region would eventually emerge as a main tourism hub.”
Greater KL’s strategic move to provide a seamless travel link to Singapore will provide her with greater opportunity to tap into the tourism industry of Southeast Asia’s most visited city.
To address Greater KL’s growing need for an efficient public, an integrated transportation network comprising of 3 new key MRT lines and extensions to the existing LRT lines is currently in the initial stages of implementation. The new integrated rail network service will be complemented by transit bus services and will significantly improve public transportation coverage in the city.
Domestic tourism to benefit from integrated rail network
Based on the Greater KL Land Public Transport 20-year master plan, the integrated rail network when completed will enable 50% of all trips in Klang Valley to be done on public transport, up from the current 17%. The master plan is designed to transform land public transport in the region in response to local needs and aspirations. It highlights that urbanization is expected to reach 7% by 2020 and the efficient and smooth movement of people will in turn enable the growth of new urban areas. It also identified other spillover effects of increased economic activity built upon an advanced public transport network which included tourism and retail and property development.
An area of tourism that is expected enjoy the benefits of an efficient integrated rail network is domestic tourism. The convenience of being able to move from one market centre to another within the Greater KL will encourage visitors from different states in the country to holiday in the capital and visit KL’s key tourist attractions, easily accessible via the MRT line. Singapore presents its MRT line as the fastest, most convenient and cost effective way for visitors to tour the island state.
Soon with the completion of Greater KL’s integrated rail network, KL too will be able to offer tourists the same value proposition.