KUANTAN: Malaysia and China is expected to jointly operate the services of the East Coast Rail Link when it is operational by January 2027, says Transport Minister Anthony Loke.
He said his ministry is recommending that a 50:50 joint venture company be formed by Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) and China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC) to run both cargo and passenger services, with the possibility that the joint venture be established by next year as a demonstration of both parties’ confidence in the ECRL’s profitability, quality and sustainability.
The joint venture could also provide technical assistance and intensify the transfer of railway technology, as well as assist in the operation and maintenance of the ECRL for the long term, said Loke at the ceremony to install the first ECRL track at the Section 10 ECRL Station Site in Gebeng here yesterday.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, who was accompanied by the Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, officiated the ceremony to mark the beginning of a crucial 94km track-laying endeavour from Kuantan Port City (KPC) station in Gebeng to Dungun, Terengganu.
This portion is expected to take three to four months to complete, before progressing from KPC station to Temerloh, then turning back north from Dungun to Kota Baru, with the final stretch to be laid from Temerloh to Jalan Kastam, Selangor.
Loke said the contract value of local companies’ involvement in the ECRL has reached RM12.99bil, surpassing the set target of RM10.8bil.
As for bumiputra involvement, Loke said that a total of RM2.59bil, or 74% of the target of RM3.5bil, for ECRL civil works had been given to bumiputra contractors, consultants and suppliers.
MRL, as the project owner, and CCCC, which is the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning contractor of the ECRL, will ensure that the involvement of bumiputra companies continues to increase.
“Among the initiatives being taken is a collaboration with the state government to screen bumiputra companies from the G1 and G2 categories, further opening up opportunities for them to jointly develop the ECRL project within a suitable scope of work,” he said.
He added that as many as 2,800 local companies, consisting of contractors, consultants and suppliers, have been involved in the implementation of the ECRL since 2017.
Construction of the 665km railway line across Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Selangor, was inaugurated on Aug 9, 2017 to allow passenger trains to move at up to 160kph, and freight trains at up to 80kph.
Overall progress of the project has reached over 56% as of November.
Once the project is completed, residents of Kuantan can arrive in Kuala Lumpur in just 90 minutes compared to at least three hours by road currently.
So far, 23,000 workers are involved in carrying out work at 1,900 construction sites along the alignment, while 26 tunnels have been excavated.
The ECRL track from Kota Baru to Port Klang involves 20 stations, half of them serving passengers only, and the other half serving both passengers and cargo.
Seven stations are in Pahang, six in Terengganu, two in Kelantan, and five in Selangor.
“The Transport Ministry is optimistic that the KPC, Cherating, KotaSAS and Paya Besar stations will further boost the administration of the Kuantan district, which has over 600,000 residents,” Loke told Bernama at the event.
The track-laying ceremony was also attended by Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Ouyang Yujing, Works Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi, Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, Malaysia’s member of China’s National Development & Reform Commission’s CPC Leadership Group Zhang Jianhua, and the Mentris Besar of Kelantan, Terengganu, and Pahang.
Also there were MRL chairman Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali and CCCC chairman Wang Tongzhou.