ECRL gets nod for realignment

Construction work on the East Coast Rail Link project at  the Kuantan stretch last year. -NSTP/File pic

KUALA LUMPUR: The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project’s railway scheme for Section A has received the government’s approval, paving the way for construction work on the 210.4 kilometre realignment from Kota Baru, Kelantan to Dungun, Terengganu to commence soon.

Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL), the project and asset owner of the ECRL, said the approval would include the final alignment route, location of passenger/freight stations, and the number of lots for land acquisition of the Kota Baru-Dungun stretch.

In addition, a 14.4 kilometre future spurline is expected to link the ECRL mainline in Kelantan with the port of Tok Bali.

“The ECRL will now have six stations under Section A consisting of Kota Baru and Pasir Puteh in Kelantan as well Jerteh, Bandar Permaisuri, Kuala Terengganu, and Dungun in Terengganu,” MRL said in a statement yesterday.

MRL said feedback from respondents, totalling 2,974, were received during the three-month ECRL Public Inspection for Section A, of which an overwhelming 98 per cent or 2,914 respondents supported the Kota Baru-Dungun realignment.

The remaining two per cent or 60 respondents who objected were mainly land or house owners whose properties had to be acquired to make way for the project.

MRL chairman Tan Sri Dr Ismail Bakar said the ECRL Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) report for Section A as well as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for Section A had also received approvals recently.

Meanwhile, the Section A (SIA) report is awaiting approval from the relevant authority.

The 640km-long ECRL project is divided into three sections, namely Section A (Kota Baru-Dungun), Section B (Dungun-Mentakab) and Section C (Mentakab-Port Klang).

The rail infrastructure will traverse the East Coast states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang before linking with Negri Sembilan, Selangor and Putrajaya.

On the progress of the ECRL, Ismail said the project’s overall completion rate currently stood at 16 per cent.

He noted that certain construction work, such as those involving tunnels and viaducts, had since resumed in Section B for several weeks.

The International Trade and Industry Ministry had approved the application by ECRL’s main contractor China Communications Construction (ECRL) Sdn Bhd to operate during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period in the middle of last month.

“We view the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the progress of the ECRL project to be minimal at this stage considering that construction works are already back on track,” he said, adding that the project’s progress was slightly ahead of schedule when the MCO was implemented on March 18.

MRL, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Minister of Finance Incorporated, is the project and asset owner of the ECRL.

Scheduled for completion by December 2026, the ECRL will cut travel time and is expected to link Kota Baru with Putrajaya in about four hours.

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