He did not reveal the number of the applicants, but said SPAD has yet to select the operators.
The Government plans to have more train operators in order to maximise the use of the country’s railway system, especially to operate cargo services, he added.
He said only 40% of the country’s railway line under the purview of Railway Assets Corp (RAC) was currently utilised, with Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) being the sole operator.
“What a waste as a huge cost was incurred to build a safe, fast and good rail network, but its utilisation is not optimised,” he told a press conference on the sidelines of the Perak RAC jubilee celebration in Putrajaya on Monday.
Liow said with the participation of other rail providers, the use of the rail assets and infrastructure could be maximised, while creating a healthy competition.
“At present, traders prefer to transport their goods from the ports to various destinations by lorries rather than rail freight services due to lower costs.
“Hence, the Government wants to bring down rail freight costs by encouraging more train providers to be involved in the industry,” he said.
At the event, Liow officiated the Railway Assets Intelligence System (RAILS) developed by RAC to facilitate asset management through online rental applications and payments.
Costing RM1.5mil, RAILS is also equipped with modules for asset maintenance, complaint management and asset performance monitoring, he added.
Through RAILS, he said, the the public, who were keen to do business with RAC, could apply to rent or lease RAC’s assets online.
Liow said besides acting as the manager and administrator of rail assets, RAC would also take over KTMB’s liabilities worth RM1.73bil shouldered by the KTMB administrator to enable the successor companies to operate without debt burden.
“At the moment, RAC has reduced the debt to RM420mil and expects to fully repay it in less than 10 years,” he said. – Bernama