The federal government through the Ministry of Transport has approved an allocation of RM101 million to upgrade the railway infrastructure and service in Sabah.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan said the allocation was approved for the implementation of three projects, namely to upgrade the railway tracks from Halogilat Beaufort to Tenom, acquisition of three new diesel multiple units (DMUs) and to conduct a study about communication system for the railway service in Sabah.
"The study will identify suitable and modern communication equipment to be installed in order to enhance the safety level of the existing railway tracks that stretch 134 kilometres from Tanjung Aru to Tenom.
"All three projects are expected to commence this year.â€
Pairin, who is also the Minister of Infrastructure Development, said the state government was in the midst of modernizing the train services in Sabah to encourage more to adopt this mode of transportation.
He said his ministry was also aware of public demand to expand the railway network across Sabah.
"A comprehensive study needs to be done and this matter is under our ministry's planning" he said when officiating at the National Railway Awareness Programme for Sabah Zone at Kota Kinabalu Polytechnic on Thursday (14 September).
Pairin said Sabah Railway Department had recently launched a new set of trains that operated along the 48-kilometre route between Beaufort and Tenom.
"This new development will indirectly attract domestic and foreign tourists, thereby boosting our tourism potential and economy of the local communities.â€
Pairin said the National Railway Awareness Programme served to disseminate information and expose the students to the skills requirements in the railway industry, especially that in the state.
"The rapid development of the railway industry in the country will increase the demand for skilled and semi-skilled workers, therefore giving opportunities for local graduates to fill in the vacancies.â€
Meanwhile, TDA Industry Development and Advisory Division senior director Azman Omar said the programme was a joint initiative to close the gap in human capital demand of the railway industry in Malaysia.
"It is expected that the industry requires around 68,000 workers by 2030 while the existing manpower is approximately 18,000 workers.â€
With the rapid developments in the railway industry, Azman said the government was expected to spend more than RM150 billion till 2022 to build railway infrastructures and systems in Malaysia.