Street-level light rail cheaper than monorail or elevated LRT


The infrastructure cost for street-level light rail vehicles (or new generation trams) is much lower than the monorail and elevated light rail transit options put forward in the revised transport masterplan for Penang.

From what I gather, these are the infrastructure costs for the various urban rail options:

Street-level light rail: RM40m/km
Monorail: RM170m/km
Elevated LRT: RM220m/km

So the question is, why is the project delivery partner going for monorail and elevated LRT when the original transport masterplan consultant (Halcrow) had recommended trams and bus rapid transit? Why the change?
In fact, the original tram routes proposed by Halcrow have now been inexplicably reduced to a miserable 2km stretch (with just six stops) in inner city George Town that appears targeted at tourists.

Bear in mind that that new generation street-level light rail vehicles can take as many passengers as an elevated LRT system at less that one fifth the infrastructure cost. And although these light rail vehicles run at street level, they can go up on ramps at difficult or congested stretches (see video above).

For the 17.5km Komtar-Airport elevated LRT route, the cost works out to RM220m/km x 17.5km = RM3.85bn. Add to that ancilliary infrastructure costs, and you arrive at the RM4.5bn figure mentioned in press reports last year.

But if we had street-level light rail vehicles or a new generation tram system, we would reap massive savings in infrastructure costs which could then be used for an expanded and more flexible rail and bus rapid transit network (including on the mainland) instead of a rigid and inflexible elevated LRT and monorail system focused mainly on the island.

So why are they going for the more expensive options?

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Support re-route PG LRT away from 3 schools in Sg Nibong Penang that have over 4k of students to ensure a tranquil learning environment in the schools:支持輕快鐵改道避開學校-公眾可授權3校提訴求/

Light Rail Fails

Are you sure? #lightrailfails


I believe Anil were not a penang resident. A land system on Penang island? This is totally … hell. Penang already very congested in the traffic and there are not enough space for road. Imagine that you want to connect Komtar with Gurney, unless you want demolish certain building, your rail planner either go through penang road or burma road. These 2 road are about 3-4 single direction lane but even so it alway having traffic jam. If you going to build a land system, it would take up at least 2 Lane for the rail and what about when… Read more »


Go underground save ground space for pedestrians.


I suppose BRT sounded good at the time of elections. Now, we have to think of “political” funding, generous foreign donors and offshore accounts. BRT is not promising in that sense. At most, you lay out an extra lane along the route, and each bus – even the best – may cost max. RM 250,000.

Tua Pai Kiah

This Sat 16 April 2016, 3.30pm-5.30pm Dialogue Session on Penang Transport Plan (Laluan LRT di Bayan Baru) at Level 4 Sunshine Square Auditorium organised by MP Sim Tze Tzin.
See you there.


A good place and time for Anil and his ardent readers to meet.


No LRT to Queensbay Mall or to Bayan Baru Market/Sunshine Square, so people will not find LRT convenient!

For sure Kwang Hwa Primary School supporters near Sg Nibong have strongly object to the set up of a station. Reason noise pollution and safety of pillars only 6 metres away.


NO to LRT Penang from Kwang Has Primary School board.

Alex Yap Shaw Liang

One consideration would be space for surface rail. And if ee consider the properties that may need to be demolished to build a surface rail it may actually be quite high. If we build it on the road it may make our roads even more congested.

bumi non malay

Good thing don’t come cheap, Cheap things don’t come good….. BUT Under UMNO-BN Administration Malaysia they are all EXPENSIVE AND POOR QUALITY and continue the IDEOLOGY of 1% Malay Holading the Equity & Wealth of 99% of Malays….. And you Expect things to improve when every corruption income is mover overseas with Bank Negara Approval …Lets face it Non-UMNO state are performing better….if like PAS wants to bed with UMNO & have hudud…then that state also like UMNO states….ABU ..UBAH Pecat PBB-Adenan-Taib from Sarawak!!…how about LRT or MRT in Sabah-Sarawak too??

gk ong

Like that who will want Gerakan to come back?


Besides taking up more land LRT or Mono Rail compete with traffic in congested Penang. Underground MRT although expensive but worth it over the long run. If Federal government not prepared to fund it then LGE should fight for private funding.

Oon Chooi Huat

Anil, space constraint esp in Penang!

David Loman

Why not go Lawatan Sambil Belajar at Singapore (don’t worry about losing Bin Chui) to learn from their MRT and LRT experience? Singapore has limited land space but still able to have a good MRT/LRT network.


Anil can employ Tunglang to visit SingLand and return with a report for anilnetto.comon best transport option for Penang; and hopefully he returns with a lion roar and lose his phobia for the cats.


no need to employ him. he will do all means. to discredit his cm. fast the cm goes away better his heath. now no time for kopi or or sg pinang or and belum valley.

Gwynn Jenkins

when fees work on a %, the cheaper option is not so desirable

Cheong Kian Kok

But land expensive

james k

Not really, they still have much smaller footprints compared to street level rail. It would be possible to be done on mainland but not on land-starved Penang island. Ideally I support a street level system but it would be almost physically impossible to be implemented on the island. Imagine, where would one find space for street-level rail from Komtar to, say Gurney Drive? Through Kelawai Road? Northam Road? Burma Road? Already congested enough. What about Air Itam and Paya Terubong? However I hope we can at least put in suggestions through state gov official site to campaign for street-level rail… Read more »


over big longkangs. streams and dual carriageway road?


Because kapcais in Asia will block their way. Everybody in cars, trucks and buses have to make way for kapcais. The trams will too. In Europe and Melbourne ok.

Richard Loh

SPACE, do we have enough space on street level? More trees have to be removed, land acquisition, more relocation etc?


no problems as all the trees will be deflected by the bridge concrete structure. but trams overhead wires will be affected by trees. what about storms and rain causing trees to fell one overhead wires? habis miss flight, parents, husband, wife, children and gfs


You can tell millions times but the more expensive is their choice.More expensive more ….you can decipher my meaning.
Above ground or elevated one need land for structure and under the structure it’s waste of space but some people’s don’t agree.

rajraman. I closed my cased without further defence.


milions times. of course deity gets millions in discount but what about billions times when 1 mbd is involved. of course we get cheap items in pasar malam. any further discount if sourced from pasar malam trader? otherwise missed opportunity. why buy one that depends on driver. china is ahead in drones which is automatic wo dtiver. elevated trains do not required and driver on trains. further if one tram is delayed, when it arrives 3 or 3 trams of the same route arrives at the same time. the first tram will be packed like sardines and the second and… Read more »