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

New Straits Times - - Front Page - RE­PORTS BY HIDIR REDUAN

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.

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