Malaysia's Rail Network

Posted by Tim Cole on Thursday, July 31, 2014

Through our strong network in Asia Maxim has successfully recruited in the region for rail projects for over 10 years. Hong Kong has always played a key part in this with numerous large MTRC expansion projects, including the High Speed Rail link to China which have pushed economic growth and created a hot job market for construction professionals.  We are now seeing a similar growth in Malaysia driven by rail projects. Let’s take some time to look at Rail in Malaysia and where the future lies. 

Malaysia’s Transport Network
Malaysia has well developed transport networks and efficient rail links. Its International ports and airports are well connected to train services, making travel to, from and around the country easy and efficient. Most of the domestic transport in Malaysia is comfortable and reasonably priced and transportation in larger cities is good with regular services.

Kuala Lumpur's rail-based transit system already consists of two Light Rail Transit lines (rapid transit), three commuter rail lines (including the Rawang-Tanjung Malim shuttle service), one monorail line and an airport rail link to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, which consists of an express and a transit service. But with an ever expanding population comes the need for further improvements and expansion of the rail system.

Rail growth is strongest in Western Europe, Asia Pacific and North America. Urban light rail systems and subways are also expanding in many regions of the world and investments in intercity high speed rail lines across the globe are on the up. Malaysia’s rail growth has also been driven by the need to improve the countries carbon footprint in an ever increasing environmental conscious world. The advantage of using rail systems is their inherent efficiency for land usage, fuel consumption and cost per km of moving freight. 

We are now seeing a massive expansion of rail networks in Asia, including MTR projects in Hong Kong, High Speed Rail links in China and now large scale expansion and improvement in Malaysia. Since 1990, the government has invested over US$16 billion to improve the transport infrastructure. Malaysia is now set to spend more than US$50 billion on rail-related projects including a high-speed train service to Singapore by 2020. The importance of rail as a mode of transportation cannot be overlooked especially with the increase in global demand for passenger and freight rail equipment, infrastructure and related services.

Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT) Project
The KVMRT rail project is made up of three lines and is intended to be the backbone of the city’s public transportation network. 

Line 1: The first line stretches 51km from Sungai Buloh to Kajang and has 31 stations. 

Line 2: The second will circle around the Kuala Lumpur City Centre.

Line 3: The third will connect the northern and southern suburbs within the Klang Valley.

With high construction costs and huge investment in labour resources the KVMRT project has boosted the local economy whilst also attracting skilled expatriates to take up employment in Malaysia. Construction of these rail projects includes multiple aspects of construction, these include: TBM Tunnelling works, MEP and Rail Systems, Power Systems, Stations work, Fit Out, Road and Pedestrian walk ways and various ground and landscaping works. 

Both locally based staff and expatriate professional with specific technical skills are required for these projects. Commercial/QS, Construction management and Engineering professionals are needed to move the construction forward. 

High Speed Rail – Malaysia/Singapore
The development of a High Speed Rail project between Malaysia and Singapore is expected to be completed by 2020. The 400 kilometre rail line would cut the land commuting time between the two countries to 90 minutes. This Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project is expected to create over 100,000 jobs.

Alongside the express service, the line will also have transit trains that stop at the cities in between KL and Singapore. It is estimated that the High Speed Rail link will carry up to 49,000 passengers daily by 2030. Malaysia hopes to call for tender by next year and they are currently doing the initial specification study with the aim to go to market by 2015. Singapore has yet to determine where the terminal on its end will be but it has called for tenders to conduct a feasibility study. Many companies from around the world have already expressed interest, including: Japan , China , South Korea , France , Germany , Britain and Spain.

Building such a complex large scale rail project in a relatively short time frame requires expert knowledge and construction professionals. For Commercial/QS and Engineering staff with specialist tunnelling, rail, M&E, systems and infrastructure knowledge there will be some excellent employment opportunities in the coming years. With the chance to work on some of the world’s largest rail projects this will without doubt be an excellent career move for those involved. 

Future Growth
Malaysia has not traditionally been a railway nation and can be said to have somewhat fallen behind the global growth of railway industries, especially in the Asia region where China, Hong Kong and Taiwan  have all invested heavily over the last 10 years in rail projects. However recent projects including those mentioned have given the region a much needed boost in terms of construction and infrastructure transport networks. With some of Malaysia’s largest ever infrastructure projects to come online in railway industries in the next 20 years the future looks good. 

Through our active recruitment network in Malaysia we are always seeking construction professionals with relevant skills to work on these rail projects and other large projects within the region. If you are an experienced construction professional and are serious about getting involved in Malaysia’s rail projects please get in touch and we will be happy to discuss the opportunities available.

Tim Cole
Senior Recruitment Consultant
Maxim Recruitment
Hong Kong and Asia Region