How SIPP-YTL Is Transforming The Face of Malaysian Railway

As you drive through Segamat, a town strategically located between Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru, you are greeted by mountains of durian chaotically jumbled by the roadside to attract curious tourists and hungry locals. Although a sleepy town by reputation, the recent kickoff of a major railway development project has spurred new economic activity amongst its people.


The Electrified Double Track Project (EDTP) is a railway development project led by the Ministry of Transport. Its vision is to improve transport connectivity between the northern and southern tips of Malaysia. It’s an ambitious project divided into three phases:

  1. Ipoh to Padang Besar
  2. Seremban to Gemas
  3. Gemas to Johor Bahru

The project is slated to complete by 2020.


The numbers are staggering for this RM9 billion project. The trains will run on double tracks specially engineered to shorten travel times throughout the peninsular. These trains, some of the fastest in the country, will travel at speeds of up to 140km/h. The expected bonuses for the double tracked trains are immense, with boosts in tourism and local businesses. With the first two phases already complete, what’s needed was a team to bring the third phase into completion.


The project was held up for a year, but in December 2017, Tan Sri Francis Yeoh publicly announced that YTL had won the contract for the Gemas to Johor Bahru portion of the project. The move meant a revitalisation of the project, which would allow SIPP-YTL to begin the process of procuring electric trains and constructing 192 km of double tracks, 11 stations, depots, land viaducts, bridges, electrification and signalling systems.

Pundits described the news as a surprise, seeing as the company had been retooling for other projects since working with Tabung Haji to build the Express Rail Link (ERL) infrastructure in 1996.

The Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Berhad (MIDF) then reported that the contract win will serve as a significant growth catalyst for YTL, as the company reportedly targeted to expand its order book from RM400m to RM12b by the financial year end.

The project has always been aligned with the YTL Group’s goal of Building The Right Thing. With our experience in developing the award winning Express Rail Link, we’ve always been in the business of building what lasts.


On April 3rd, 2018, a fleet of cars and buses drove past lamp posts decorated with buntings inviting people to witness the groundbreaking ceremony of the Gemas to Johor Bahru phase. In just 4 months, MOT and SIPP-YTL worked together to pull off a ceremony attended by the country’s top leaders and a crowd of 3,000 people.

In the early hours of the morning, guests gradually filled rows of blue seats sheltered underneath a sprawling white tent. They ignored the relentless heat from the sun as they patiently waited for an opportunity to meet the Prime Minister. Cameras swiftly moved through the crowd, catching hands digging into goodie bags or flipping through programme books detailing the final leg of the project and the teams behind it.

When the Prime Minister finally arrived, a crowd formed by the entrance. The Prime Minister offered a warm smile to everyone he encountered while briskly walking towards his seat. To kickstart the ceremony, the emcee invited everyone to stand and sing along to the Johor and National state anthem, the second of the two everyone proudly remembered by heart. The show then went on with guests attentively listening to a string of inspiring speeches prepared by the Minister of Health, YB Datuk Seri Dr. S. Subramaniam, the Minister of Transport, Dato’ Sri Liow Tiong Lai, and finally the Prime Minister himself. Then, before the one-hour ceremony concluded, the guests of honour gathered on stage for a ‘grand finale’.

After the video montage was shown, the Prime Minister pulled a lever on stage, causing the main screen to split open while energetic music filled the venue. Everyone stood on their feet, harmoniously giving a round of applause and cheering loudly when the KTM ETS was revealed. The Prime Minister then received a scale model of the train on stage as a token of appreciation.

When the commotion simmered down, the emcee then invited guests to make their way to the buffet stations to enjoy a hearty plate or two of nasi tomato, ayam masak merah, and fruits. Some stayed on to mingle, and some to educate themselves more on the project by reading an infopanel erected at the venue. Others left with goodie bags in tow with a strong sense of hope for the country’s future.

Since 1955, YTL has been in the business of nation-building. Diving back into the railway scene shows that we are prepared to take big risks to make a bigger difference for Malaysia. As we take on a project of epic proportions, aimed to improve the lives of millions, we hold on tightly to our brand values of hard work, honesty, moral responsibility, togetherness, and vitality. Over 60 years, we have proven that no challenge is too difficult to overcome, and as we ride into the future together, let us continue proving that we are always on track to build the right thing.