Hisham zips lip on why RM100mil spent on rail link

Putrajaya had spent RM100 million to link KLIA and KLIA2 by rail and will charge users RM2 one way, because it is a form of public transport, said acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.
Speaking to reporters after visiting the Express Rail Link (ERL) station at KLIA2, Hishammuddin refused to respond to queries by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on why taxpayers ended up footing the hefty bill for the link.

“Because it is public transport… I’m not going to argue with you,” Hishammuddin said curtly.

The PAC is looking into Malaysian Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), a government-linked company, and its handling of the long-delayed KLIA2 project and the inflation of construction cost from RM2 billion to RM4 billion.

PAC chairperson Nur Jazlan Mohamed said that the rail extension should be part of the KLIA2 construction cost and that the PAC wanted to know the government’s rationale for paying for the rail link.

Hishammuddin did not respond to those claims but clarified that the extension was 2.2 km and not 1km as reported to the PAC.

KLIA Express is an Express Rail Link (ERL) system which connects KL Sentral and Putrajaya with Malaysia’s international airports in the south-west of Kuala Lumpur.

While passengers pay RM35 to go one-way from KL Sentral to KLIA and KLIA2 on the 33 to 38 minute journey, they have to pay RM2 for rides between the two airports. The rail link was completed in October 2013.

With KLIA2, ERL traffic set to rise 40pct

Hishammuddin said the RM2 charge was fair as it went to the ERL’s maintenance costs, even though traffic is expected to rise as much as 40 percent with KLIA2’s opening.

“This is so that the facility can be properly maintained and passed on to the future generations,” he added.

KLIA2, which began construction in 2009, is finally operationally ready and safe to open, Hishammuddin said after a round of inspection today with Urban Well-Being, Housing and Local Government Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan and Works Minister Fadillah Yusoff in tow.

The trio, together with an entourage of over 100 photographers, videographers and reporters and government officials, boarded the ERL from Putrajaya to KLIA2, standing awhile before walking down the aisle to greet surprised passengers.

After announcing that 80,000 people have visited KLIA2 on Sunday when it held an open day, Hishammuddin said that all speculation should now be over. He simply wanted to close the chapter on the so-called low-cost airport’s troubled past, he added.

“The past is the past, my task now is to get people to work together for the future. I will deal with all other issues after that,” he said.

There were reports of broken runways, bad design, incomplete signboards and a total change of concept to become a “hybrid” terminal and the airport’s main user AirAsia had also previously dragged its feet on moving in.

Hishammuddin said that MAHB has now done everything possible to ensure that the airport is safe, including getting independent assessments and approvals from International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and Certificate of Completion and Compliance. – Malaysiakini

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