'Game-changing' ECRL reaches two-thirds completion


KUALA LUMPUR: Construction work for the 665km East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project has reached 67% completion despite several hiccups and challenges throughout its development and implementation phases.

Aimed at improving connectivity and stimulating economic development, the project traversing Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Selangor is set to be an economic game-changer, especially in boosting Malaysia’s transportation network.

It is expected to be completed by the end of 2026.

The massive infrastructure project, which connects the east and west coasts of the peninsula with 20 stations along its route, is also a testament to the strong bilateral relationship between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing.

ALSO READ: ECRL to be completed by end-2026, operational from January 2027

The RM50.2bil project notched another milestone with the groundbreaking ceremony for the ECRL Gombak Integrated Transport Terminal (ITT) Station officiated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and China’s visiting Premier Li Qiang on Wednesday (June 19).

Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd chairman Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali said Li's presence at the ceremony reflected the strong bilateral relationship between the two longstanding partners ang augured well for the successful implementation of the project, which is under the Beijing-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Wednesday's event was the first groundbreaking ceremony held in Selangor and the beginning of construction for the first station on the ECRL line in the state, which will have a total of five stations, he said.

"This station will serve as the main gateway to the capital city, facilitating ECRL users' travel from Klang Valley to the East Coast states or vice versa.

"ECRL will also be connected to the Kelana Jaya LRT Line at the Gombak ITT, providing a better network and greater passenger capacity.

"The ECRL line, from Kota Baru in Kelantan to Gombak in Selangor, is expected to be completed by the end of 2026 and operational by January 2027.

ALSO READ: Construction cost for ECRL stays at RM50.27bil, says Loke

"Travelling time between Kota Baru and the Klang Valley is anticipated to be around four hours compared to seven hours or more by road during festive seasons.

"Overall, the progress of the ECRL project is at 67%,” he said.

In April, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the ECRL network in Selangor spanning nearly 120km would have five stations, namely the Gombak, Kapar and Jalan Kastam Integrated Terminals for passengers only while the Bandar Serendah and Puncak Alam stations would be connecting stations for passengers and cargo.

The construction phase for the ECRL began with the groundbreaking ceremony in Kuantan, Pahang in August 2017, but the work was suspended in 2018 for financial reasons before the project was restarted in July 2019 at a lower cost.

The ECRL connects state capitals, major urban centres, industrial hubs, ports, airports and tourism zones and interchanges with existing railway lines in Peninsular Malaysia.

The project is owned by MRL, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Minister of Finance (Incorporated), while China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) serves as the main contractor.

Malaysia Institute of Transport (Mitrans) director Associate Prof Dr Wan Mazlina Wan Mohamed said ECRL is a crucial national infrastructure project that would boost regional development and connectivity, and improve public transit across its electrified railway network, connecting urban and rural areas.

It will also reduce environmental pollution by transitioning from the use of fuel-based vehicles to an electrified rail network and provide a safe alternative mode of public transport for long-distance journeys, said Wan Mazlina.

ALSO READ: ECRL freight, passenger services price structure most likely to be unveiled in 2026

In March, Investment, Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said ECRL will serve as a catalyst for socioeconomic growth and is expected to increase the country’s GDP by 3.78% by 2047.

"The ECRL is poised to be a game-changer for Malaysia, linking us more closely to the Pan-Asia railway network and enhancing our connectivity,” he said in his keynote address at the Seminar on East Coast Rail Link-Economic Accelerator Project (ECRL-EAP) Business and Investment Opportunities.

Meanwhile, Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd chief economist Dr Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid said the ECRL, once completed, will benefit the real estate sector, among others, through the effects of urbanisation and the increase in property prices.

In April, the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) said the ECRL-EAP is anticipated to generate RM1.4 trillion for Malaysia's economy by 2047 with a focus on industrial parks, logistics hubs and transit-oriented developments.

It encouraged companies to seize opportunities arising from ECRL, with areas that could be further explored including renewable energy; sustainability products and services; education and training centres. – Bernama

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