Saturday, 25 September 2010

Electrification: Malaysia shows the way

While the powers-that-be in this country dither over railway electrification, at least one part of our former empire is just getting on with it. Electric services have just begun on a substantial stretch of Malaysia's main north-south line. This is the first stage of a plan to electrify the whole route from Singapore in the south to the Thai border in the north. It's a British-built metre-gauge line. Here is one of the new EMUs bought for the purpose:

Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh is about 200 km and the journey time is reduced from well over three hours to just 2 hours. The article doesn't say anything about acquiring electric locos, so presumably the existing (fun but rather slow) half a dozen through trains a day between Singapore and the far north will continue to be diesel-hauled over the newly electrified section between Seremban and Ipoh.

This is, I think, the first long-distance electrification in the entire region. Up till now the only electric trains in Malaysia have been a small suburban network around Kuala Lumpur, two metro lines within KL itself (both of which are about to be extended), and Siemens' excellent standalone airport link line.

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