KUANTAN: The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) can be up and running well before its estimated completion date in 2024.
“We are confident that China’s contractors will be able to help speed up and implement the project, completing it before time,” said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai after the ground-breaking ceremony here yesterday.
“Yes, I am optimistic, because they are very strong contractors,” he added.
Liow was also positive that ECRL will benefit the east coast, together with the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP) and Kuantan Port, both of which are expected to be ready by next year.
He added that with a transportation ratio of 70% freight and 30% passengers, the ECRL will see growth in the economic factors of the east coast and also benefit people living in the east coast.
Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce (MCCC) Pahang president Datuk Andy Chiew said the rail-ship concept of the ECRL and Kuantan Port will allow China to deliver goods and material to other Asean and European countries at a lower cost and in less time.
“Once the rail-ship concept is up and running, products and material from China can go through Malaysia to neighbouring countries like Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam,” said Chiew.
“This will save time and cut cost, as currently, China has to go through Singapore port to transport material.”
Chiew said it only takes three days for a ship from Qinzhou Port in China to reach Kuantan Port compared to four days to reach Singapore.
He added that the rail-ship concept provides China with another option for transporting material to Europe.
With ECRL, goods from Kuantan Port can be freighted to Port Klang before being shipped to Europe.
Federation of Chinese Associations of Malaysia president Tan Sri Pheng Yin Huah said the ECRL will help bring some economic balance between the east coast and the west of Malaysia.
He added that the rail would also boost tourism, giving travellers easy access to tourist spots in the east coast like Taman Negara, Pulau Tioman, Pulau Redang and Pulau Perhentian.