Malaysia Rail Project : The latest updates on the Malaysia ECRL

Malaysia ECRL

MALAYSIA : The Malaysia ECRL (East Coast Rail Link) is facing yet another change of plans and this time it will be reverting to its original alignment that was initially approved by the Barisan Nasional government in 2017.

The current change involves a section of the line running between Port Klang in Selangor and Temerloh in Pahang.

The obstacles faced by the Malaysia ECRL since 2017.

The Malaysia ECRL has faced its fair share of challenges to completion since 2017.

In 2017 ,the original plans announced by the Barisan Nasional government indicated that the Malaysia rail line would cut across central Selangor before entering Bentong.  Negeri Sembilan was excluded from this version of the Malaysia ECRL route. Initial construction cost was RM 65.5 billion.

In 2018, the Malaysia ECRL project was halted by the Pakatan Harapan coalition. It was eventually revived in 2019.

In 2019, after negotiations between the Malaysian government and Chinese government, more than 30% of the initial construction cost was slashed in favor of a shorter route. The construction costs of the East Coast Rail Link was reduced by RM 21.5 billion to RM 44 billion. The planned route length of the Malaysia ECRL was reduced by 40km from 688km to 648km. The Malaysia rail line was also rerouted through Negeri Sembilan while leaving out Bentong in Pahang and Gombak in Selangor.

Current changes made to the Malaysia ECRL : Increased length and construction costs and a reversion to the original route alignment.

On 5 April 2021, Malaysian Transport Minister Dr Wee Ka Siong announced that the Malaysia ECRL will revert to its original alignment. Under this alignment, Bentong and Gombak will be added to the route with stations constructed in both locations. The reasons cited for the latest changes were that freight usage and passenger ridership would be higher. These changes would raise construction costs as the Malaysia ECRL would have to cut through the Titiwangsa Mountains and require more construction of bridges and tunnels. The latest adjustments would see the length of the route increase from 648km to 66km. Malaysia’s government has also agreed to an increase of project costs by nearly 14% from USD 10.63 billion to USD 12.08 billion.

The East Coast Rail Link project was launched in 2017 as a key project under China’s Belt and Road initiative in South East Asia. The ECRL is deemed as the largest economic and trade project between Malaysia and China. The Malaysian office of China Communications Construction , CCC-ECRL, was contracted to build the East Coast Rail Link.

The Malaysia ECRL would connect the city of Kota Bharu on the eastern coast with Port Klang in the western region of Malaysia. The ECRL is also intended to encourage economic development in the connected states on the east coast. Many view the Malaysia ECRL as a gamechanger

It seems that despite the initial obstacles, the highly anticipated but long awaited completion of the Malaysia ECRL project is well underway. However, given the tumultuous history of the Malaysia ECRL project, some skepticism remains as to its completion schedule and that is assuming it would be completed.

Picture source : Reuters
Sources :

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/malaysia-seeks-reroute-ecrl-us-10-6-billion-belt-and-road-china-13091464?cid=h3_referral_inarticlelinks_24082018_cna

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/east-coast-rail-link-proceed-malaysia-china-slash-costs-11438428?cid=h3_referral_inarticlelinks_24082018_cna

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/04/12/daim-rm215bil-savings-from-ecrl-enough-to-build-two-twin-towers/

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