KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, The possibility of Japan's world-famous Shinkansen bullet train system making its debut in Malaysia and Singapore has created some excitement within the International High Speed Rail Association (IHRA) with a senior official making a strong pitch for its adoption.
IHRA's Vice Chairman, Torkel Patterson said, countries that previously had zero high-speed rail (HSR) working experience had proven that they could achieve the same level of success as Japan, in operating the system, despite initial scepticism.
Shinkansen's Total System Approach to HSR seamlessly integrates technology with the infrastructure and signalling system, with its key advantage being the approach to training and maintenance and the way of performing among the employees.
"The hardware and software technology embedded in the total system provides the outcome Shinkansen is famous for - safe, fast, reliable, on-time and frequent service," he told Bernama, via an email interview.
He said, the "most fascinating" thing happened with the Delhi Metro, and despite many sceptics, the subway is clean, runs on time, safe, reliable and frequent and later it became desired by every large city in India.
"The factors that made the Delhi Metro a success are the same that made Taiwan HSR a success and that will make the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR a success," said Patterson, when asked to comment on Japan's bid to win international tenders to be called soon for the proposed two-city bullet train link, billed as Southeast Asia's largest ever infrastructure project.
American-born Patterson listed three characteristics that led to the success of the Shinkansen system when exported out of Japan - training, great local leadership and public support and encouragement.
For years now, Taiwan had a 100 percent Taiwanese-run and operated railway with world-class (that is, Japan-class) safety, reliability, on-time performance and service with its ridership exceeding even many of Shinkansen's lines in Japan itself, he said, when asked how the Shinkansen system would step up to the challenge given the distance between Japan and Malaysia-Singapore, where the personnel to be hired would have zero HSR working experience.
On local leadership, he said, the strong Malaysia-Singapore leadership of the system was imperative because, without commitment, vision and a positive outlook, nothing significant could be achieved while with it, everything was possible.
Alluding to public support, he said, "The public, once they have a chance to experience HSR, falls in love with it and clamours for more. This support will assuage politicians who may not feel they can make risky decisions in the beginning. Having popular transport also fans ridership and helps bring transit-oriented development (TOD) as well.
In Japan, TOD makes up a significant 20-40 percent of overall businesses, boosted by the fact that the railway companies own the land immediately around the stations and can develop it above, below and surrounding the stations.
Patterson reckoned that in Malaysia, the proposed terminal stations at Bandar Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, Iskandar Puteri in Johor and Jurong East in Singapore would be successful from the very beginning, while other stations would grow with the growth in ridership.
A former Raytheon International Inc. President, Patterson previously served in a variety of posts in the US under three administrations, including Special Assistant to the President for Asia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia and Senior Country Director for Japan in the Office of the Secretary of Defence.
Source: NAM News Network