EAST COAST RAIL BOOSTER
THE prime minister, in launching the RM55 billion railway project, says it is both a ‘game changer’ and ‘mindset changer’. Datuk Seri Najib Razak is confident the 688km line will have a tremendously positive impact on the economy and the lives of millions
CONSTRUCTION TO START ʻLATER THIS YEARʼ, RAIL SERVICE EXPECTED TO BE OPERATIONAL IN 2024
TRAVEL TIME BETWEEN EAST AND WEST COASTS WILL BE HALVED TO FOUR HOURS
22 STATIONS IN A HOST OF TOWNS, 49km OF TUNNELS TO BE BUILT
THE 688-km East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) is set to be both a gamechanger and mindsetchanger for Malaysia as it will cut travel time between the east and west coasts.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the ECRL journey from the Integrated Transport Terminal (ITT) in Gombak, Selangor, to Kota Baru, Kelantan, would be cut down to four hours, compared with the current average of eight hours, or even 12 hours during festive seasons.
“As such, ECRL will provide a faster and more comfortable alternative that will substantially reduce the gap between the east and west coasts of Peninsular Malaysia,” Najib said prior to the opening of the ECRL project at Bandar Baru Kuantan here yesterday.
Najib noted that with ECRL’s slogan of “Connecting Lives, Accelerating Growth”, the project set the tone for an economic spin-off effect and positive social impact for the east coast states of Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan.
He noted that as Malaysia’s longest rail project, ECRL would promote development of industrial areas and boost the growing trend of transit-oriented development that nurtures compact residential districts and commercial centres along the 22 stations.
“A host of towns, including Bentong, Mentakab, Maran, Kuantan, Cherating, Chukai, Dungun, Kuala Terengganu, Tok Bali and Kota Baru, which are designated as ECRL stations, will soon be in for some exciting times,” he said with regard to the towns located in the three east coast states, which have a combined population of 4.4 million.
Najib said ECRL would benefit freight transport as it would link key economic and industrial areas of the three east coast states, such as the Malaysia-China Kuantan Indusrial Park, Gambang Halal Park and Tok Bali Integrated Fisheries Park, to the Kuantan Port and Port Klang.
“The viability of ECRL is undisputed as it is estimated that 5.4 million passengers and 53 million tonnes of cargo will use the ECRL service annually by 2030 as the primary transport between the east coast and the west coast,” he said, adding that 30 per cent of revenue was projected to be generated by passengers and 70 per cent through freight.
Najib noted that ECRL had the potential to create an alternative trade route in the southeast region as the new rail line was able to connect ports on the peninsula’s west coast and east coast.
“Regional trade routes that are mainly centred on the busy Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea via Singapore may leverage ECRL transportation, which can cater to the movement of bulky items in large volumes at a lower cost. ECRL is also expected to increase two-way trade for Malaysia as it will participate in the PanAsia Railway Network that enhances the connectivity to the Asean and Eurasia regions.
“ECRL, together with several mega infrastructure projects, such as MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) and the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail, which provides the rakyat with access to new, modern, and efficient public transport, will play a key factor in the transformation of Malaysia in our effort to be among the top 20 nations by 2050.”
Najib said he looked forward to the opening of ECRL in 2024, and wished the best to Malaysia Rail Link (MRL) Sdn Bhd and China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC) in the ambitious undertaking.
CCCC is the contractor for the ECRL project while MRL is the project owner.
Present were the People’s Republic of China Special Envoy Wang Yong, MRL chairman Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob, Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman and Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob.
Also present were China’s Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang and CCCC chairman Liu Qitao.
Page 1 pic: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak with key ministers and leaders looking at a replica of the East Coast Rail Link in Kuantan yesterday.