Transit Development and Regeneration in KL

Jamilah Mohamad

RAIL TRANSIT DEVELOPMENT AND URBAN REGENERATION IN KUALA LUMPUR
Dr Jamilah Mohamad Department of Geography, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur. jamilahmd@um.edu.my Kuala Lumpur: An Introduction Kuala Lumpur, the Federal capital of Malaysia, began as a very small trading post on the eastern bank of the Klang River (Gullick 2001). Through Kuala Lumpur, the surrounding tin mines received labourers and the food supplies to sustain them. By the 1890s Kuala Lumpur had grown into a sizeable town with a population of about 20000. It became the capital of the new Federation of Malaya in1948 and was a natural choice as capital of the new nation on the achievement of Independence in 1957. Since then, Kuala Lumpur has developed rapidly in tandem with the country’s growth and is today the nerve centre of the Malaysian economy. Today, Kuala Lumpur is delineated by the Federal Territory boundary covering an area of 243 sq km. Other urban centres around it such as Petaling Jaya started as a new township in 1952 to accommodate the overspill population from Kuala Lumpur. Shah Alam was established as the state capital of Selangor to replace the loss of Kuala Lumpur to Federal control. Another important urban centre, Klang, has benefited from its proximity to Port Klang, ranked eighth among the world’s container ports. As a result of urban sprawl, the larger Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan Region covers an area of approximately 4000 sq.km. stretching south to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The entire Metropolitan Region is in fact a polynucleated urban system, well linked together by a system of highways and railways with Federal Territory Kuala Lumpur (FTKL) as the most dominant centre. Decentralization of development has been occurring over the years and is expected to continue in the future. According to year 2000 estimate, the population of FTKL was about 1.4 million representing only about a third of the total population of the larger Metropolitan Region which has about four million people (City Hall of Kuala Lumpur, unpublished). The residential population of FTKL has, since 1980, been growing at only about 2 per cent per annum, which is much lower than the national average population growth of 2.6 per cent. The population of the Metropolitan Region has been growing at more than double the rate of that for FTKL. This reflects the strong out-migration trend towards residential areas located outside FTKL, and the fact that a large proportion of those who work in the city live outside it. The population of the Metropolitan Region is expected to double to about eight million people by the year 2020.

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Transit Development and Regeneration in KL

Jamilah Mohamad

The overall physical development of FTKL is guided by the policies contained in the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan (KLSP) gazetted in 1984. The overall framework of the KLSP was based on a hierarchy of urban centre development, within the context of fifteen main planning units (PU) together with five Special sub-units. The city centre, contained within the Central Planning Area (CPA), was designated as the principal urban core. Four new growth areas within FTKL were identified to decentralize future employment and residential development away from the dense urban core. Three of the growth centres, namely, Wangsa Maju, Bandar Tun Razak and Bukit Jalil were basically greenfield sites while the fourth (Damansara) was a well-developed residential area with a committed commercial and administrative node. While the growth centres were close to achieving 1984 development targets, the CPA has not fulfilled the strategic role mapped out for it in the 1984 KLSP and has experienced a decline of population. A policy recommended under the recent review exercise of the KLSP has recommended that an attempt be made to induce more workers working within the CPA to live within it by increasing the supply of appropriate residential units and improving its overall quality of life. Private sector-led development projects of the nature of the KL Sentral development which will be described in this paper is expected to lead the way for urban regeneration. KL Sentral: Nucleus of the Nation The Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station (KLSS), strategically located at the fringe of the CPA, is the new transportation hub of Kuala Lumpur with promises of it being the `nucleus of the nation’. The MRCB group in consortium with Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad KTMB (Malayan Railway Ltd) and another construction company was awarded the privatization exercise by the Government of Malaysia in June 1994 to build a new Central Railway Station for Kuala Lumpur. Under the agreement, the concession company, known as Kuala Lumpur Sentral Sdn Bhd (KLSSB) will build and surrender an integrated railway station to the Government. The project included components of a new Central Station integrated with KTMB rail facilities, the Light Rail Transit System and the Express Rail Link (ERL) service to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the new Federal Government Administrative Centre of Putrajaya. KTMB, as beneficiary of the Government, will own and operate the new station while MRCB was to have the rights to develop the remaining site for commercial development (Perunding Alam Bina, unpublished). The size of the project site is 30 hectares and is situated in the Brickfields area of Kuala Lumpur which till then had been utilized by KTMB as a marshalling yard, locomotive maintenance and warehousing. The site is demarcated by three major roads, namely, Jalan Travers and Jalan Damansara to the north-west and Jalan Tun Sambanthan to the south-west. The site had been used as a railway yard with godowns, warehouses, sheds, living quarters, office buildings and facilities for locomotive cleaning. Railways tracks traversed the site and occupied almost half of the land area.

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Transit Development and Regeneration in KL

Jamilah Mohamad

Interestingly, the site lies close to a number of the city’s heritage buildings, flanked by the National Museum, Planetarium and the Lake Gardens to the north, low density residential development in Federal Hill to the north west and mixed residential and commercial development to the west. The present railway station, KTMB headquarters, the National Art Gallery, the National Mosque, the Islamic Centre and the General Post Office are found to the north east of the site. The development components of KL Sentral includes: • The central station which is designed as an elevated building above the railway operations. The transit concourse is designed as a `transfer bridge’ linking the Main Concourse with all the train platforms of the station, i.e. Intercity Concourse located at the same level with the Main Concourse; LRT Concourse located to the east of the Transit Concourse and the ERL Concourse to the south of station (see Photo 2) Office towers as the prime commercial component of the development with a provision made for a total of 19 office tower blocks Integrated office Retail and entertainment complex Hotels Condominiums Public amenities including an auditorium

• • • • • •

The KLSS development strategy has been tailored to conform to the objectives and requirements of KTMB, namely, • the station should serve as an efficient national multi-modal transportation hub • the station should project a clean and sleek image (see Photo 1) • the development strategy should optimize landuse and be environmentally sensitive In addition to project viability, the development aspires to contribute towards a better quality of life in the neighbourhood by creating a new and vibrant confluence place. The Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station caters for the following rail public transport services: • KTMB Intercity services, which serve Singapore and Bangkok corridor and major cities in Malaysia • KTMB Commuter services • The Express Rail Link (ERL) which provides two types of services, namely, an express service to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and the other commuter service which will make stops at Putrajaya and Salak Tinggi • The Light Rapid Transit (Putra-LRT) services

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Transit Development and Regeneration in KL

Jamilah Mohamad

Hence, the redevelopment exercise was presented with an excellent opportunity to create a show piece of commercial and residential precinct appropriately integrated with an array of transportation facilities. The rail-based public transport system providers will be outlined in greater detail in the next section. Transport-led Urban Regeneration The KL Sentral development is expected to transform the Brickfields neighbourhood within which the new development is situated. Brickfields is strongly associated with the brickyard from which it derived its name and with the quarters that housed Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) service depot workers. Old landmarks have gradually disappeared, and, new components such as Sentral Station, Suasana condominiums and a network of railways that link the area with the rest of the country have taken its place. The area is gradually acquiring an uplift that has much to do with its proximity to the nation’s newest transportation hub. It is clear that the transformation of Brickfields from an ethnic residential and commercial enclave to a cosmopolitan hub is linked to the railway, which has been and will continue to be its lifeline. With the completion of the KLSS development, Brickfields will be brought into close proximity to the place where the Inter-City KTM railway network, KTM Komuter Services, the PUTRA LRT, Monorail and the Express Rail Links converge (Berita Publishing, 2002). Brickfields will also be the area where the KL Monorail’s retail and leisure hub development aptly named JalanJalan is scheduled to be built. Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) Inter-City Services The railway in Peninsular Malaysia, known as Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad or KTMB is one of the most important and economical means of passenger and freight transport in the country. Indeed the history of railways in Malaysia began way back in the second half of the 19th century. The first railway line was laid between Port Weld and Taiping, a distance of 12.8 km, in 1885. The main railway line in Peninsular Malaysia runs north from Singapore and then separates into East and West Coast Lines connecting with the State Railway of Thailand at Padang Besar on the West, and Golok on the East. Since its completion in 1931, the rail network in the Peninsula has been essentially unchanged. In August 1992, KTMB became the first railway in the ASEAN region to be corporatized. KTMB is now entirely a private sector organization, accountable for all its revenue and development activities. Today, with 1668 km of track to its credit, KTMB lines run the breadth and width of the peninsular, providing the country with regular passenger, freight and supplemental services. KTMB’s Strategic Business Units (SBUs) include passenger service for inter-city travel, commuter service for suburban travel, freight service and property development. KTMB’s Commuter Service

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Transit Development and Regeneration in KL

Jamilah Mohamad

The commuter system referred to as `KTM Komuter’ is a product offered as a suburban railway service that runs for the most part within the Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan Region. The fully air-conditioned electric train service for the KTM Komuter began operations on 14 August 1995.The service using Electric Multiple Units (EMUs), running on a 25KV AC system, covers the Rawang to Seremban and Sentul to Port Klang through the Kuala Lumpur sector. It operates with speed, safety and efficiency for urban commuters whilst being environmentally-friendly. STAR – Light Rail Transit System I, Phase I, runs generally at-grade from Ampang using the former KTMB rail reserve to Plaza Rakyat (Puduraya) from where it will run on elevated track along Jalan Tun Perak, then along the east bank of Sungai Gombak to terminate at Jalan Sultan Ismail. The administration, workshops and the stabling area are located at Ampang. For Phase I, there are 17 two-vehicle trains running on double track, segregated from all other traffic and fully fenced. STAR started revenue service in December 1996. Phase II is an extension of the Phase I route, which comprises a further 3.2 km of track to the north and 11.8 km to the South. The Phase II extensions served to provide an improved public transportation system to the National Sports Complex at Bukit Jalil during the 1998 Commonwealth Games. This Southern Branch runs from Chan Sow Lin Station to Salak Selatan utilizing an existing KTM reserve and then to Taman Mulia, Tasik Selatan, Pekan Sungai Besi, National Sports Complex and the Games Village. The entire STAR-LRT system runs a total route length of 27 km, of which 17.6 km is at grade while 9.4 km is on viaduct. There are 25 stations altogether, 17 at grade and another 8 elevated. Projek Usahasama Transit Ringan Automatik Sdn Bhd (PUTRA) – Light Rail Transit Projek Usahasama Transit Ringan Automatik (PUTRA) was incorporated in February 1994 to design, construct, operate and maintain the LRT System 2 for Kuala Lumpur and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Renong Berhad. The LRT System 2 covers a total distance of 29 km, linking the eastern and western suburbs of Kuala Lumpur, servicing some of Kuala Lumpur’s most affluent and heavily populated areas. It uses the Advanced Rapid Transit Mark II technology which has been successfully tested and proven in North America, Europe and Asia with very high performance specification. The entire PUTRA-LRT system covers a total route length of 29 km. It has 24 stations, 1 station at grade and 18 stations elevated while the remaining five are underground. The route stretches from Lembah Subang Depot to the PUTRA Terminal in Gombak. KL Monorail

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Transit Development and Regeneration in KL

Jamilah Mohamad

The KL Monorail is a straddle monorail system with pneumatic tyres running along the top and hugging the sides of a narrow concrete guideway beam. The monorail system will provide intra-city public transport needs to the central business district, hotel and shopping districts of Kuala Lumpur. The monorail route runs a distance of 8.6 km with 12 fully-elevated stations. The KL Monorail is designed to handle up to 18000 passengers per hour per direction and operates up to slightly above two minutes headway between trains. The monorail system is designed to complement and be an integrated part of the urban rail transport system in Kuala Lumpur. It integrates with various rail systems at the following locations: • STAR-LRT at Titiwangsa Station and Hang Tuah Station • PUTRA-LRT at P Ramlee Station and KL Sentral Station • ERL (Express Rail Link) at KL Sentral Station • KTM Komuter at KL Sentral Station Express Rail Link Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd is the concession company providing direct and commuter services between the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and KL Sentral. The KLIA Ekspress is a dedicated rail-air connection, i.e. a non-stop rail service plying between Kuala Lumpur City Air Terminal at KL Sentral and KLIA. Trains depart from both terminals at every 15 minutes interval, with a journey time of less than 30 minutes. The KLIA Ekspress is expected to carry between 5000 to 10000 passengers per day during its full year of operations. The KLIA Transit is expected to carry about 2000-5000 commuters per day initially for those taking trains at Bandar Tasik Selatan, Putrajaya and Salak Tinggi. Attempts are being made by public transport operators in order to attract more travellers to use their system. Both the STAR-LRT and PUTRA-LRT systems are now being managed by Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd after both operators made significant losses. Beginning December 2002, STAR-LRT commuters will enjoy up to 50 per cent discount for traveling tickets, a move aimed at getting more commuters to use the STAR-LRT, which to date had over 90,000 commuters. Meanwhile, for the Putra-LRT system, station-to-station travel in suburban areas remains at 70 cents for stations between Kelana Jaya and Abdullah Hukum and between Datuk Keramat and Terminal Putra. Only those travelling along the Central Business District, which is from KL Sentral to Ampang Park, will see an increase of ten to twenty cents to the fare. . Some early impacts of KL Sentral The Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station has been in operation for nearly two years. The rail system itself has undergone a drastic modification from its greasy origins to a high-tech,

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Transit Development and Regeneration in KL

Jamilah Mohamad

computerized, clinically-efficient system. This emerging transportation nucleus has paved the way for some parts of Brickfields’ laid-back commercial precinct to be converted into hives of business activity. The 1.2 million sq. ft of space in the KL Sentral Plaza retail centre is expected to enjoy a good occupancy rate when it is completed while owners of the rows of commercial units along the stretch of Jalan Tun Sambanthan directly facing KL Sentral are beginning to reap some benefits from the development. Statistics from the Property Market Report for 2001 indicated that four-and-a-half storey shophouses are priced between RM1.46 million and RM2.5 million. Shop owners have estimated that the capital value of three-storey shops measuring 22ft by 75ft along the stretch of Jalan Tun Sambanthan fronting KL Sentral are currently around RM1.5 million. Further along Jalan Travers, 20ft by 80ft ground floor retail lots rentals are between RM5,000 to RM6,000, while first floor lots, which were actually built for residential use but have since been taken over for commercial purposes, are being rented for RM1,500 to RM2,000. In terms of capital value, the ground floor shoplots are commanding RM500,000 and RM600,000, while the apartments above are going for RM160,000 to 170,000. However, it is anticipated that the area directly across from KL Sentral and the north sector around the YMCA will probably experience the greatest change as larger business concerns take over the premises. The area behind Jalan Tun Sambanthan will give way to redevelopment once 100 Quarters (the railway housing) is redeveloped. Another area that is expected to be transformed is the Jalan Tebing stretch fronting the Klang River, where the proposed 350,000 sq ft Jalan-Jalan leisure and retail development will be built by the KL Monorail System Sdn Bhd. This hub of activity will complement the Monorail’s Jalan Tun Sambanthan station, designed to have 7,750 sq ft of nett lettable space suitable for kiosks and mini-shops. Further from Jalan Tun Sambanthan, four-storey shops along Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad, which is nearer to the Monorail depot, are fetching rentals of RM4,000. However, when the proposed JalanJalan complex is ready, these could mean an increase in rental values. The development of both KL Sentral and the KL Monorail’s Brickfields hub is expected to accelerate capital and rental values in the vicinity of the development. Owners believe that these new developments are not a threat to their businesses but instead will act as catalysts for more development. The retail and leisure components of both KL Sentral and Jalan-Jalan when completed, are set to change the profile of visitors to the Brickfields area as they cater for a different market segment from the present. The catchment market is expected to expand to include other parts of the Klang Valley such as Klang and Rawang and as far as Seremban in the neighbouring state of Negri Sembilan, due to existing rail links to these towns as well as the spur bridging JalanJalan and the Federal Highway.

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Transit Development and Regeneration in KL

Jamilah Mohamad

Another similar project as the KL Sentral Development has been revived recently. The revived Sentul Raya project is to be undertaken by property developer YTL Land & Development Bhd. which has been associated with another urban renewal project in the Pantai Hill Park. The Pantai Hill Park was an area previously identified with squatters and low-cost housing until it was then entirely upgraded to medium and upper cost housing development. Sentul was founded in the late 1800s when the first Malayan Railway line opened between Taiping and Port Weld. It has a stigma as a crime-infested area. The new Sentul Masterplan is to develop a 294-acre prime land effectively split in half by an existing Sentul KTM Commuter station and its tracks forming two precincts – 186-acre Sentul West and 108-acre Sentul East. The project runs over a period of about 8 years and is expected to house 50000 residents across a total of 7000 residential units spread over 117.6 ha including over 14 ha private fenced park. In Sentul West, YTL planned to develop 14 ha as Malaysia’s first private gated park, the size of St James Park in London, to be accessible exclusively to its residents. The Sentul East precinct would continue to retain its colourful heritage with a blend of the traditional and modern Sentul town. At the core of Sentul East development will be the tree-lined boulevard of Jalan Sentul as well as an elevated pedestrian skywalk that connects one end of the pedestrian link beginning from Station Square to Sentul Timur Light Rail transit station. Again, accessibility is also a plus point as the connectivity for the Sentul Raya development includes Sentul KTM commuter, the direct link to KL International Airport in Sepang via KL Sentral from Sentul Timur STAR LRT. Conclusion One of the major aims of regeneration is to reinvigorate town centres which have suffered from degradation and decentralization of employment, leisure facilities and retail. Ideas have been mooted for the `24 hour city’ - a working and living environment that is never underused and provides activity and safety around the clock. To rid the city of traffic congestion which have often led to the deterioration of the urban environment, attempts have been made to create a transport hub as the focus for efforts to switch to a greater degree of public transport use. Developing new and improved transport links provide a fulcrum for economic growth as an example in places such as Thames Gateway in the United Kingdom which offers an abundance of brownfield development opportunities for both commercial and residential use. Already successful developments included the Docklands Light Railway and the Jubilee Line extensions. The KL Sentral project thus marked an unprecedented opportunity to plan for a comprehensive transportation hub complemented by a premium mixed development complex. It is clear that Kuala Lumpur needs more innovative schemes like these to improve the physical environment in the inner city areas so as to make urban areas as places for

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Transit Development and Regeneration in KL

Jamilah Mohamad

people, the need to create prosperity that everyone can share and to deliver good quality urban services. The challenges to deliver regeneration would be to attract investment to run-down areas, creating equitable partnerships and enhancing community participation. References Berita Publishing (2002). `Information Malaysia 2002’ Kuala Lumpur. City Hall of Kuala Lumpur (unpublished) Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan Review - Interim Report, Vol. 1. Gullick, J.M. (2001) `Old Kuala Lumpur’ Oxford University Press, Kuala Lumpur. Perunding Alam Bina Sdn Bhd et. al (1996) `Development Master Plan Report – Kuala Lumpur Sentral Project (Redevelopment of the Brickfields Railway Yard)’ unpublished report submitted to MRCB Group. New Straits Times. August 3, 2002. The Star. April 22, 2002

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Transit Development and Regeneration in KL

Jamilah Mohamad

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