New MRT phase ready on Monday, mobiles usable subterrain
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KUALA LUMPUR, July 13 — The second phase of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) line launching on Monday will allow commuters to receive cellular signals even when its trains are moving underground, its project director said today.
Marcus Karakashian, MRT Corp’s project director for the MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang (SBK) line, said the company is fulfilling its commitment to the government to complete the second phase by July.
“We are not rushing, we are ready to go, we’ve been doing three months of trial ops,” he told reporters here at a pre-launch media briefing, noting that the trial period was necessary to ensure smooth running of the fully-automatic trains driven by sophisticated software.
“We’ve given ourselves three months. It’s not I’m being pushed into opening, I’m ready to open. I’m not being pushed by anybody to open on the 17th. I’m ready to open on the 17th,” he added as he showed the project timeline.
He noted that MRT Corp had similarly managed to prepare the first phase of the SBK line for operations last December as promised to the government.
As for the seven underground stations that will be operational next Monday along with 12 other elevated stations, Karakashian confirmed that the telecommunications firms are working to ensure that MRT passengers would not face any service disruption throughout the 9.5km underground section of the entire 51km line.
“We are looking to have them all up by 17th, all seven underground stations. When you are on the train, you can still use your phone,” he said.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will launch the second phase of the MRT SBK line — covering 19 of the total 31 stations — at the Tun Razak Exchange station on Monday.
Five of the stations on the second phase are interchanges where passengers can switch to other train services, including Muzium Negara that will be connected via a free walkway to the KL Sentral rail hub.
The MRT’s Pasar Seni, Merdeka and Maluri stations will be linked to their respective adjacent LRT stations of Pasar Seni, Plaza Rakyat and Maluri through a paid-to-paid link. This means passengers will not have to buy a separate ticket and can just hop on to the other rail service when transferring between separate train systems.
Karakashian, an engineer with years of experience managing various rail construction projects including London’s Jubilee line and multiple MRT lines in Singapore, said he was particularly proud of the MRT SBK line in Malaysia.
“I think a great piece of work has been done,” he said, noting that the SBK line had some of the “best tunnels” and had “fantastic” stations.
“I’m proud of everything I’ve built, I’ve done a lot of work but this is the one that I’m really proud of,” he said, noting the passion of those who worked on it.
“I think the people who worked on it – the Malaysians, the internationals – really put their heart into this and I hope people appreciate it,” he added.