I spoke in Parliament on the Electric Train Service. My speech among other things are as follows;
Government must explain as to the delay of over 7 years in the construction of the electric double train track and the construction cost which has gone up by over 300%!
Today the 2011 financial estimates of the Transport Ministry came up for parliamentary debate.
In the debate, I asked for some clarification on the issue of Electric Train Service which plys between the Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur.
The double train track was finally completed after almost 7 years delay.
The project started in July 2000 and was to completed in June 2003.
The initial cost of building the double track was only RM1.43billion but it had short up to RM4.34billion an increase of over 300% per cent.
But even when the double track was completed, the train coaches were not ready. It was only at the beginning of this year that the coaches were finally up and running.
I asked the Ministry to explain why the present fare rate of RM30 per trip would be increased to 45.40 coming February.
The reasons given by the Deputy Minister, among others are
1) the bus and travel by flights are far too expensive
2) the amount of investment warrants a reasonable fare for the use of train service
3) compared to many other countries, Malaysia has one of the cheapest rates for train transport.
I immediately retorted that the train service should be a social obligation by the Government to the people. The Government should not place money making as its priority in providing the necessities to the people.
I also reminded the Deputy Minister that almost in all other countries it has always been for the Government of the day to provide a cheap, reliable and efficient form of public transport to the people.
The Transport Ministry also confirmed that discounts fares would be made available to the disabled, the aged and the young.
The Deputy Minister also confirmed that they are now doing feasibility studies on the viability of building a train track from Ipoh to Lumut.
Additionally, the Deputy Minister said that the old route between Tapah and Teluk Intan is also being relooked and studied to see if it is viable to proceed.