Dungun, Terengganu, 2 June: The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project has recorded another major milestone as it achieved a tunnel breakthrough at the 871 meters single-bore Terowong Dungun in Terengganu six months ahead of schedule.
The final blast at Terowong Dungun on 29 May 2021 broke through the last barrier some 12 meters from the tunnel’s entrance portal. The achievement at Terowong Dungun is a culmination of approximately 641,520 man-hours and the adoption of the drill-and-blast method of tunnelling that bored through the moderately weathered schist rock.
Tunnel excavation works for Terowong Dungun had progressed to 97.4 percent prior to the breakthrough, while its permanent lining had rose to a decent length of 702 meters. With a tunnel height of 11.8 meter and width of 12.9 meter, Terowong Dungun was constructed to avoid major open cutting and to preserve forest reserve when travelling across the Kuala Dungun area.
The achievement is made more significant as Terowong Dungun was the event site for the ECRL project’s relaunch ceremony on 25 July 2019. Furthermore, the tunnel breakthrough at Terowong Dungun had taken place less than two months from the inaugural ECRL tunnel breakthrough at the 1.1-km Terowong Paka on 9 April 2021. The state of Terengganu will feature five ECRL tunnels upon the completion of the project.
Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) Chairman, Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali, said the dedication and teamwork of some 100 ECRL personnel at all levels had paved the way for the tunnelling works and breakthrough at Terowong Dungun to be ahead of schedule, noting that the overall infrastructure works for the tunnel is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2022.
“The ECRL team including engineers, planners, and construction workers at Terowong Dungun ought to be congratulated as the tunnelling works which excavated some 98,111 cubic meters of soil and rock have been completed safely and with minimal ground movement,” he said adding that Terowong Dungun is expected to be completed months ahead of schedule barring any unforeseen circumstances.
Tan Sri Mohd Zuki also said the ECRL project has 58 tunnels encompassing different lengths and landscape to be constructed along various sections of its 665-km rail alignment, but anticipates the strong collaboration and knowledge sharing between MRL and China Communications Construction (ECRL) Sdn Bhd (CCC-ECRL) to smoothen tunnel excavation and deliver such engineering feat as per schedule or even earlier.
“We are pleased that the ECRL project is still progressing slightly ahead of schedule at 22.62 percent as at May 2021 despite the Covid-19 pandemic which effectively reduces work hours and manpower at project sites,” he noted.
Meanwhile, the project’s Engineering, Procurement, Construction, and Commissioning (EPCC) contractor, CCC-ECRL’s Managing Director Bai Yinzhan is confident that the project team is adjusting well to work under the strict enforcement of SOPs and is making advance progress while keeping the work sites safe.
“Our team had made tremendous efforts to coordinate with our local contractors and Bumiputra project partners to ensure resources such as manpower, materials, and machines are available where we need them. We are grateful for the support and understanding given by our subcontractors. Special thanks also go to our team in Section 4 for achieving two remarkable milestones within the short span of two months,” said Bai.
MRL, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Minister of Finance Incorporated (MOF Inc.), is the project and asset owner of the ECRL while CCC-ECRL is the EPCC contractor. Scheduled for completion by December 2026, the 665-km ECRL will traverse the East Coast states of Kelantan, Terengganu, and Pahang before linking the Klang Valley on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The ECRL will significantly cut travel time and connect Kota Bharu with ITT Gombak in approximately 4 hours.