KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — Starting today, some 400 wagons of goods are to be transported via trains connecting Penang Port, Port Klang and Padang Besar every month, as part of a new rail-and-sea service that seeks to supplement Malaysia’s existing cargo transport systems.
The new “rail-sea service” is a collaboration between Malaysian railway company Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) and China’s state-owned Cosco Shipping Lines — one of the world’s largest maritime transportation conglomerates.
The first 40 wagons of the service were given an official send-off today as a memorandum of understanding was signed between KTMB group chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Rani Hisham Shamsudin and Cosco Shipping Lines (Malaysia) managing director Jamie Song Mingzhi.
“This one rail service can replace 40 trucks on the road,” said Transport Minister Anthony Loke, who was present to witness the event at the old Kuala Lumpur railway station here this morning.
“This means we are reducing 40 trucks on the road. That is a positive effect on transport.
“If we only depend on trucks, this not only causes traffic jams, but additional trucks on the road cause road damage and difficulties to other road users,” he added.
According to Mohd Rani, talks for the service collaboration — which is estimated to reduce wait times for importers and exports in Malaysia’s inland areas by up to four days — started in August last year.
There are plans to expand the rail-sea service to include Padang Besar in Perlis and Ipoh, Perak sometime in the future.
Loke also expressed his enthusiasm for closer ties between China and Malaysia.
“One of the missions of Malaysia’s rail industry is to connect Malaysia and China one day,” he said, regarding an intention to have trains for both passengers and goods between both countries.
“It’s definitely possible today, but we need further collaboration not only between Malaysia and China but our neighboring countries such as Thailand and Laos.
“And hopefully China can play an important role in helping to convince other countries,” he said.
In South East Asia, China currently has trains connecting to Laos and Vietnam.