Abang Johari signs the plaque after launching the the Tun Abang Haji Openg digital centre at Unimas today. – Photo by Information Department

KUCHING (Aug 4): The world’s first hydrogen-powered autonomous rapid transit (ART) smart tram is already in Sarawak, said Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said the smart tram has already arrived from China at Senari Port.

“With this ART, it will change our lives. This transportation will focus on our students in Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) and Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) in Samarahan first.

“The students will use the ART, and the payment is through Sarawak Pay, which will give discounts or special fares for our students,” he said.

He was speaking at the launching of the Tun Abang Haji Openg digital centre at Unimas today.

He said the arrival of the smart tram in the state would not only bring significant change in Sarawak’s future transportation landscape but also the people’s lifestyle.

“When the ART runs, everything will be digital, including ticketing.

“We will have special passes for students to use the transport. (Credit) can be deposited in Sarawak Pay involving Unimas 17,000 students,” he said, adding that the system will provide convenience for local parents to send their children.

Abang Johari later told reporters that the smart tram would first be test-run at the Kuching Isthmus, followed by testing it along the Kuching-Samarahan route.

“Either it is through our new lane or on the road itself, if its own lane is not ready yet. We will try it first and manage the traffic flow,” he said.

Earlier, several sources close to the project said the ART smart tram will be arriving at Senari Port tomorrow (Aug 5).

The sources said the vessel carrying the prototype is already in Sarawak waters, but it will only enter the port tomorrow, adding that relevant information would be released to the media tomorrow as well.

The prototype will undergo a two-month engineering run at The Isthmus in September and October before beginning its Stage 2 proof of concept (POC) exercise along a short stretch of the Blue Line in Samarahan this November.

The hydrogen-powered smart tram was independently developed by China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Research Institute Co Ltd.

According to CRRC, the smart tram is the first to adopt a hydrogen energy power system, which has the advantages of longer driving range and shorter refuelling time, as well as energy saving and environmental protection.

It can travel up to 245km in a single charge of hydrogen.