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New KLIA Aerotrain to be ready by 31 Jan 2025. Why did it take so long?

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New KLIA Aerotrain to be ready by 31 Jan 2025. Why did it take so long?

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New KLIA Aerotrain to be ready by 31 Jan 2025. Why did it take so long?


The Aerotrain replacement project at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is now expected to be completed by 31st January 2025, two months ahead of its original schedule. The Aerotrain service which provides seamless connectivity between KLIA’s main terminal building and the satellite terminal has been suspended since March 2023 due to constant breakdowns. As a result, passengers, mostly for international flights, had to rely on buses to shuttle between the two terminals.

New KLIA Aerotrains by end January 2025

According to Malaysia Airports (MAHB), the expedited timeline was finalised through a contract signed on 14th June 2024 between Malaysia Airports (Sepang) Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MAHB and Alstom Transport Systems (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (Alstom), and a joint venture consisting of IJM Construction Sdn Bhd and Pestech Technology Sdn Bhd.

Alstom is the project Coordination Lead and they will oversee the delivery of three new trains, the upgrading of two lines and the overall comprehensive testing required for safe operations.

MAHB’s acting Group CEO Mohamed Rastam Shahrom said, “This early project completion ahead of the original planned date, is a testament to our relentless commitment to improve passenger experience. This advancement not only addresses immediate operational needs but also strengthens KLIA’S position as a leading transport hub in the region by providing world-class service and infrastructure to our passengers.”

Based on the current project timeline, the new Aerotrains are expected to arrive in Malaysia from China by Q3 2024. The Aerotrains will undergo commissioning and rigorous testing by the relevant authorities before official operations can commence.

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With the next Chinese New Year happening on 29th January 2025, it would be timely if the Aerotrain service could resume service ahead of the festive season.

Why did it take so long to replace KLIA Aerotrains?

KLIA’s existing Aerotrain system started operations when KLIA opened its doors in 1998. Two of the Aerotrains have been in service since 1998 and the third train was added in 2010.

According to MAHB, a tender for new trains was floated in 2020 after completing three feasibility studies to determine the best solution to connect passengers between the main terminal and satellite buildings. After the studies and engaging with several stakeholders including the Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM), the Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) and the Land Public Transport Agency, it was recommended that the best solution was to conduct a like-for-like replacement of all systems related to the Automated People Mover (APM).

In August 2021, MAHB announced that it had identified a final shortlist of bidders to take up the APM tender to replace the ageing Aerotrains and it was in the final stages of the evaluation process.

Pestech was originally awarded the Aerotrain project in December 2021 for RM742.95 million which involves the upgrading of the 1.2km APM system together with the Aerotrain’s operations and maintenance for a 10-year period. This includes the replacement of the ageing Adtranz/Bombardier CX-100 rolling stock with Innovia APM 300.

New Aerotrain from Alstom

In September 2022, MAHB announced that the entire APM replacement programme will take three years and is scheduled to be completed by March 2025. It shared that the first phase involving design works was planned until March 2023 while phase 2 involving the construction of the new Aerotrain is set between March 2023 and March 2025.

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During the transition period, MAHB said it would replace its bus service to augment the limited Aerotrain operations by replacing its current fleet with 6 new airport buses which will be able to accommodate up to 110 passengers each. At the time, MAHB was only operating one Aerotrain with a limited schedule during specific hours.

Old KLIA Aerotrain. Source: MAHB

Unfortunately, before the new Aerotrain project was completed, the existing train suffered a major breakdown on 1st March 2023. The service was suspended indefinitely as a precaution after the incident left 114 passengers stranded with some missing their flights.

In August 2023, Pestech’s contract was terminated by MAHB. According to MAHB, the termination was due to non-performance, compromising significant project milestones and risking delays to deliver the project within the required deadline. In January this year, MAHB awarded the Aerotrain project to Alstom Transport System (Malaysia) together with a joint venture of IJM Corp and Pestech.

It was reported that the new contract with Alstom had incurred a cost increase that’s capped at 15% and the total Aerotrain replacement project costs RM456.1 million excluding operational and maintenance costs. It is said that the increase was attributed to interest holding cost, foreign exchange considerations, remobilisation expenses and project coordination fees to Alstom.

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