The 'notorious' reporting duo of Terence Fernandez and R. Nadeswaran from the Sun disclosed today, here, that passengers who depart from KL International Airport (KLIA) have been paying an additional RM2 to RM6 in airport tax for the last 6 years – no thanks to a lopsided deal between the government and Express Rail Link SdnBhd (ERLSB) which operates the Express Rail Link (ERL). The KLIA Express connects KL Sentral and KLIA. In simple words, departing airline passengers have been made to pay for or subsidise the service even if they do not use the ERL. (Read also Nadeswaran's column on this, here.)
It is learnt that the rationale behind the 30-year concession agreement signed in 1997 with ERLSB, where YTL Corporation is a major stake holder, was to ensure a return on investment for the service which started in 2002. KLIA handled about 25 million passengers last year and the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) about 8 million. “Half of these figures were departing passengers, which means ERL would be receiving in the region of RM80 million a year,” said a source.
So the ERL wasnt exactly a viable enterprise by itself at the outset, was it?
YTL Corporation's boss Francis Yeoh (photo) was also in the news recently (read Jeff Ooi's 'Francis Yeoh and his urgent train' on 15 April, here) when he was quoted by the NST as saying that his RM10 billion KL-Singapore bullet train, first proposed some years ago, is "economically viable, so I think the government will listen to the people and put this project on an urgent basis again."
People? He must mean us poor unsuspecting beggars.
A "little bird" told me that a team of local and foreign consultants engaged by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) for a major study on a national transport policy a few years ago during the previous administration, had concluded then that the bullet train project is not viable. Perhaps Francis is simply trying his luck again. Indeed, human greed has no bounds. (Read also a Petpositive comment, here)
(Footnote: Both Nadeswaran a.k.a. Citizen Nades and YB Jeff Ooi will be guest speakers at B.U.M. 2008 on Thursday 1 May 2008).
Update 23 April: Malaysiakini reports, here, that YTL's proposed KL-Singapore bullet train project has been scrapped.
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