China rail project in Malaysia launched

The Star Early Edition - - INTERNATIONAL - Xin­hua

A MEGA rail­way to be built by China was of­fi­cially launched yes­ter­day in the Malaysian city of Kuan­tan, a mile­stone for China-Malaysia ties as China pushed for­ward the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

At a cost of 55 bil­lion ring­git (R172.6bn), the 688km East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) would help up­grade pub­lic trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture on the east coast, said Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak.

The ECRL is the first artery rail­way built on the east coast, which has been con­nected to the west coast only “via a net­work of roads and high­ways, and small rail lines that were woe­fully in­ad­e­quate”.


De­scrib­ing the project as a gamechanger for Malaysia, Na­jib said it would sig­nif­i­cantly cut travel time from Gom­bak in subur­ban Kuala Lumpur, to Kota Baru in the north-east­ern state of Ke­lan­tan, from seven to four hours.

The rail­way will be built by China Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Con­struc­tion Com­pany, a lead­ing trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture group that also built a land­mark bridge in the north-west­ern state of Pe­nang.

Chi­nese State Coun­cil­lor Wang Yong also at­tended the cer­e­mony.

He praised the ECRL as a “flag­ship project” jointly built by the two coun­tries un­der the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, which would boost eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion and bal­anced devel­op­ment of dif­fer­ent re­gions in Malaysia.

He ex­pressed his hope that China and Malaysia could seize the his­toric op­por­tu­nity brought by the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive to achieve win-win re­sults and joint devel­op­ment.

China was will­ing to work closely with the Malaysian side and build the rail link into another land­mark project so as to ben­e­fit the Malaysian peo­ple as soon as pos­si­ble and help re­alise re­gional devel­op­ment and pros­per­ity, Wang added.

The ECRL will be an elec­tric rail­way line cross­ing Ke­lan­tan, Tereng­ganu, Pa­hang and Se­lan­gor states.

It will ac­com­mo­date pas­sen­ger trains at a max­i­mum speed of 160km/h, and goods trains at a max­i­mum speed of 80km/h. Con­struc­tion of the rail link is ex­pected to be com­pleted by 2024.

The project would ben­e­fit the 4.4 mil­lion pop­u­la­tion along its route, said Liow Tiong Lai, Malaysia’s Min­is­ter of Trans­port yes­ter­day.

He es­ti­mated that the ECRL would serve 5.4 mil­lion pas­sen­gers an­nu­ally by 2030.

The Ex­port-Im­port Bank of China fi­nanced 85 per­cent of the rail­way with soft loans, while the Malaysian gov­ern­ment pro­vided the re­main­ing 15 per­cent via is­su­ing bonds, ac­cord­ing to Na­jib.

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