The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project in Malaysia is being revived after a significant reduction in the price by China. According to initial plans, the project would build a 688km rail line connecting the coast along South China Sea at the Thai border in the east part of Peninsular Malaysia with the strategic shipping routes of the Straits of Malacca in the west. Construction by China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC) began in August 2017 but after a new government led by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad came to power in May 2018 with a priority to cut the national debt and pledging to review major projects agreed upon by the previous government, the ECRL project was stalled. On 3 July 2018, Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) instructed CCCC to suspend all works under the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning contract (EPCC) of the ECRL project.
The suspension was lifted after signing of a supplementary agreement between MRL and CCCC in April 2019 on the revised construction cost and southern alignment of the rail link. MRL and CCCC agreed to form a 50:50 joint-venture (JV) company to manage, operate and maintain the ECRL network. The construction cost of Phases 1 and 2 of the ECRL have been reduced to MYR 44 billion (USD 10.6 billion) from the previous cost of MYR 65.5 billion (USD 15.85 billion), a 33% reduction. In the original deal here was no mention of Malaysia’s share of the construction. Malaysia is also not paying any compensation for suspending construction work.
The ECRL’s new alignment will have a total length of 640km, going from Kota Baru-Mentakab-Jelebu-Kuala Klawang-Bangi/Kajang-Putrajaya-Port Klang. Several stations have been eliminated and others moved to new locations. Other changes include changing the construction of a 17.8km-long Genting Tunnel from Bentong to Gombak to a direct link from Kuantan Port to Port Klang.
(Source: The Star Online; Channel NewsAsia; Straits Times; Caixin Global)