KUALA LUMPUR: The revised alignment of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project will not require extensive tunnelling work, which was a major cost component of the project.
The track now starts in Port Klang and goes south to Jelebu in Negri Sembilan before hooking up with Mentakab in Pahang.
It will by-pass the Titiwangsa Range.
“There will be no need to bore a tunnel through the Titiwangsa Range,” said a construction industry executive.
In the original alignment, the track was supposed to start at Gombak and go through to Bentong in Pahang via Genting Sempah where two tunnels of 16.3km each were supposed to be built.
According to construction industry executives, the cost of the two tunnels would have come to RM8bil or more.
“The tunnel would be a showcase as it would have been the longest in Malaysia and the region. But it was costly, taking up more than 10% of the original cost of the ECRL,” said another industry executive.
The tunnel job was to be handled by the main contractor of the ECRL project, China Communications Construction Co (CCCC).
The company even set up a batching plant and workers’ quarters in Genting Sempah before the project was suspended in July last year.
In the original plan, there were supposed to be 44 tunnels along the route, connecting Port Klang to Pengkalan Kubor in Kelantan.
Under the new alignment, there would be fewer tunnels.
The new alignment for the ECRL would also resolve issues with the Selangor government because there would not be a rail link between Gombak and Port Klang.
The state government objected to the ECRL because the link from the integrated transportation hub to Port Klang would cut across the 16km-long Klang Gates Quartz Ridge.
The Selangor government has been lobbying for the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge, which is the longest in the world, to be a natural heritage site.
If the rail project were to cut through the ridge, it would damage the environment and jeopardise its chances with Unesco.