Friday 24 May 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 2): Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) and China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC) have reached a mutually beneficial agreement based on the estimated construction cost of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), which remains at RM50.27 billion.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said this is despite the complex rail engineering background on hilly terrain and wide river crossings.

In addition, this also follows the Selangor state government saying it has no more objection against the ECRL passing through the state’s northern region, with Wee noting that the cost for the project sees “no change”.

“The estimated cost of RM50.27 billion takes into account the work of the 16.39-kilometer Genting twin tunnel using two sophisticated tunnel boring machines (TBM) and the 14.1-kilometer Serendah tunnel through blasting and drilling methods.

“The two TBMs for the Genting tunnel with a diameter of 8.98 meters each, are the largest ever used for rail tunnel excavation in Malaysia and will penetrate hilly areas along the Bukit Tinggi area between Bentong and Gombak with a depth of 750 meters from the highest peak,” he said at a press conference held in conjunction with the document handover ceremony for Section C (northern alignment) of the ECRL here on Thursday.

Wee noted the Serendah tunnel will be built to avoid the Batu dam water catchment area and reduce the social impact between the Gombak and Serendah areas.

The ECRL cost estimate, he said, will also include the rolling stock of the line when it is operational, consisting of electric multiple unit (EMU) sets for passengers and locomotives as well as wagons for cargo services.

Meanwhile, Wee expressed his gratitude for the Selangor government's agreement to accept the ECRL's northern alignment proposal and subsequently approved the ECRL Section C alignment involving Section C1 from Mentakab to Gombak and Section C2 covering Gombak-Serendah-Port Klang.

He said the ECRL's original alignment was restored after the Ministry of Transport (MoT) — which oversees the line's implementation — found that the rail project would be more competitive if it traversed the original alignment as it is not only economical but would also reduce environmental and social impacts.

“The Selangor government's decision will absolutely pave the way forward for ECRL to facilitate the changes and terms to the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPCC) contracts for the ECRL project thus facilitate the implementation of the ECRL construction based on the original alignment of the ECRL launched in August 2017,” he said.

To recap, the ECRL is an electric rail network of 665 kilometers from Kota Bharu in Kelantan to Port Klang in Selangor. The reversion of the ECRL to the original alignment for Section C will see this rail infrastructure crossing Mentakab to Port Klang via the main routes of Bentong, Gombak and Serendah.

“The ECRL project is part of the Belt and Road (BRI) initiative of the government of the People's Republic of China which will see a 'landbridge' that will connect the east and west coasts of Peninsular Malaysia and drive growth that is expected to bridge the inequality between the East Coast and the West Coast.

“The decision of the Selangor government will help realize the construction of 665 kilometers of the ECRL which includes 59 tunnels with a total length of 61 kilometers as well as several viaducts with a total length of 127 kilometers. ECRL will have 20 stations across four states comprising 10 dedicated stations for passengers and another 10 stations are a combination of passenger and cargo facilities,” Wee added. 

He also said the ECRL's northern alignment will include the much-needed 'Serendah bypass' for KTMB rail services within the scope of the ECRL project, where a twin-track consisting of the meter gauge track and the standard gauge track will be constructed between Serendah and Port Klang. 

“[The] ‘Serendah Bypass’ will serve as an important freight relief line for KTMB’s cargo rail services which have to deal with rail congestion when crossing Kuala Lumpur city center. ‘Serendah Bypass’ is also expected to increase cargo volume for ECRL, as when operational, it will accommodate cargo from East Coast states and existing KTMB routes,” he said.

This, he said, will make ECRL a viable infrastructure in line with a revenue ratio of 70% cargo services and 30% passenger services. 

Moreover, Wee said the improved ECRL original line will include a dual gauge track approximately 30 kilometers from the Customs Road ECRL station to the Northport and Westports port areas.

“An additional dual-gauge rail will be a key component for long-distance connectivity and pave the way for ECRL to complete the landbridge connecting Kuantan Port on the east coast and Port Klang on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia,” he added.

Edited ByLam Jian Wyn
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