PUTRAJAYA: The new and improved, freshly renegotiated East Coast Rail Link will also be running through Putrajaya and this spells even higher connectivity for the federal administrative capital.
And if the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail project – which according to initial plan has a stop here goes on as well – Putrajaya will become a rail hub with almost all trains running the peninsula passing through the area.
Currently, the federal administrative capital is connected by rail via the KLIA Express Rail Link (ERL) and the ongoing construction of the MRT2 Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya line is expected to be fully operational in 2022.
By 2026, the ECRL will be completed and Putrajaya Sentral will be one of the 20 stops.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the new alignment would leverage on the existing KLIA ERL as well as the future MRT2 SPP line with an interchange in Putrajaya Sentral.
“This will improve passenger connectivity to other parts of the peninsula’s west coast as well as provide direct link to KLIA.
“This is a significant improvement to the single interchange via LRT in the integrated transport terminal in Gombak as per previous arrangement,” he said at a press conference to explain the project, which will be resumed following successful negotiations with China.
The new and shorter alignment of 640km will also pass through Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Negri Sembilan and Selangor and will provide a direct land link from Kuantan Port to Port Klang, serving as a land bridge between the two ports.
The ECRL will have 20 stations – Kota Baru and Tok Bali in Kelantan, Kampung Raja, Kuala Terengganu, Pengkalan Berangan, Dungun, Kemasik and Chukai in Terengganu while in Pahang, the train will make stops in Cherating, Kuantan Port City, Kuantan Port City 2, Kota SAS, Gambang, Maran and Mentakab.
Aside from Putrajaya, the ECRL will also have stations in Jelebu in Negri Sembilan, Bangi/Kajang and Port Klang and another proposed station in Selangor.
The travelling time from Kota Baru to the Klang Valley is expected to be about four hours, which is significantly shorter compared to the average seven hours by road.
Dr Mahathir said the project, which now costs RM44bil after renegotiation, would have a new targeted completion date of Dec 31, 2026. This is an extension of two and a half years from the original completion date of June 20, 2024.
The construction cost managed to be brought down by RM22bil, which is almost a third of the original cost of RM66bil.
On April 12, Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd and China Communications Construction Company Ltd signed a supplementary agreement to pave the way for the resumption of the suspended project.
Asked what are the issues taken into account when considering the realignment of the ECRL, the Prime Minister said one of them was to avoid the mountainous areas.Dr Mahathir wants the rail link to serve as a stimulus for economic growth and development, especially in east coast states even though they are being administered by the opposition.
“This improved project will provide freight and passenger transportation, attract investments along the railway corridor as well as generate employment opportunities.
“We hope the state governments of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang will seize the opportunities provided by the ECRL rail network and leverage on the development and growth that will result from the project,” he said.
On the negotiation team, Dr Mahathir said they worked well together and was able to achieve their mission by reducing the cost of the project by RM21.5bil.
“We are grateful to the Chinese government for recognising Malaysia’s financial position and predicament and agreeing to come to the negotiating table.
“The government would like to thank the Malaysian negotiating team led by Tun Daim Zainuddin and the various working groups for their efforts which enables the ECRL to proceed at a far lower cost, for the ultimate benefit of all Malaysians,” he said.