By LYDIA NATHAN / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS
The government intends to position Malaysia as a rail equipment-manufacturing hub in the Asean region, aided by strong partnership with China.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke (picture) said the local rail industry can be developed with continuous collaboration with Train’s largest train maker, China Railway Rolling Stock Corp (CRRC).
He said CRRC is encouraged to further invest in Malaysia as the government may require more train sets to fit in new rail projects nationwide.
“Many more train sets will be needed, especially when the Gemas-Johor Baru double-tracking project is completed. The light rail transit 3 (LRT3) project is also developing,” he told reporters after a visit to CRRC’s rolling stock centre in Batu Gajah, Perak, yesterday.
Established in 2015 with an estimated cost of RM400 million, the CRRC rolling stock plant is the first and sole train manufacturing centre in the Asean region. Over 85% of its workforce at the plant are Malaysians, the minister added.
Loke said CRRC’s current and future investments in Malaysia will not only benefit the local market but also major Asean cities, given that most are looking to develop their transportation systems with a strong demand for LRT, metro, suburban rail, locomotive and cargo trains.
“Currently, this plant has the capacity to assemble 200 train cars per year and it is only for the Malaysian market, but with the (potential) expansion, they can double that amount and begin exporting,” he said.
Currently, the plant supplies train cars to Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd and Prasarana Malaysia Bhd.
Loke also expressed hope for “Made in Malaysia” train cars operating in the country and the Asean region.
“CRRC has adopted many localisations since and has encouraged technology transfer between the two countries (Malaysia and China).
“While we are open to foreign investors, there are always local partners that can form joint ventures with these companies, creating more job opportunities for Malaysians, as well as transferring technology,” Loke said.