BENTONG: The first tunnel boring machine (TBM) for the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) has started excavation works for the 16.39km Genting tunnel.
The first TBM was launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Thursday (June 23) at the Bukit Tinggi portal, where it will cut through the Titiwangsa range, linking Bentong, Pahang, with Gombak, Selangor.
In his speech at the launch event, Ismail Sabri said that the ECRL project will see a total of 20 stations, consisting of 10 passenger stations and the rest are a mix of passenger and cargo stations, connecting between various
cities, towns as well as industrial parks to ensure a more effective and well connected public transport system, especially in the rural areas.
"This ECRL (passenger) service which has a (maximum) speed of 160kph is expected to reduce travel time to Kota Bharu, Kelantan to Gombak under four hours compared to the average seven hours by road or up to 12 hours during festive periods," he said, adding that is the passenger service is also connected to the Kelana Jaya LRT at the Gombak integrated transport terminal,
He also asked the Transport Ministry to talk to all the stakeholders to ensure ticket prices for ECRL's passenger services will be affordable, similar to KTM Bhd's services, which is rakyat friendly.
Also present at the event were Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail, Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob, Finance minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Malaysia Ouyang Yujing, Malaysia Rail Link Berhad (MRL) chairman Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali, MRL CEO Datuk Seri Darwis Abdul Razak, China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) Vice President Sun Ziyu, and CCCC ECRL managing director Kong Qi.
TBM1 from China was custom-made for use in hard-rock conditions and is equipped with four torque cylinders and weigh 900 tonnes each.
They are 25m long and have an excavation diameter of almost nine metres.
Together with its back support system that houses the control room and substation, the entire TBM1 weighs a massive 1,600 tonnes and measures 266m in length.
At an average excavation capacity of between 400m to 600m per month, TBM1 is expected to take approximately 2.5 years to 3 years to dig the 16.39km Genting tunnel, which is set to be the longest rail tunnel in Southeast Asia upon completion.
TBM1 is part of the two TBMs to excavate the twin-bore Genting Tunnel.
The second machine, TBM2, is expected to be fully reassembled and tested before year-end.
The ECRL project, scheduled for completion in December 2026, will link Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang with the Klang Valley, and is projected to derive 70% of its revenue from freight services, and the remainder from passenger services when it is expected to be operational in January 2027.