Wee says ECRL to cost less than Pakatan’s plan at RM50b with new alignment

Yiswaree Palansamy
·4-min read
In a press conference to announce the realignment, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong said that the project, now dubbed ECRL 3.0, is an improved version which would benefit the public and businesses. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
In a press conference to announce the realignment, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong said that the project, now dubbed ECRL 3.0, is an improved version which would benefit the public and businesses. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

PUTRAJAYA, April 5 — The latest estimated cost of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) after the realignment of its Section C, or the northern alignment, is at RM50 billion, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong said today.

In a press conference here to announce the realignment, Wee said that the project, now dubbed ECRL 3.0, is an improved version which would benefit the public and businesses.

“As from cost perspective, the implementation of cost of the ECRL’s northern alignment, despite following the original alignment approved in 2017, will still involve a lower estimated estimated construction cost, as compared to the original construction cost for phase one and phase two, during the launch of the ECRL in 2017.

“The cost for the ECRL with its northern alignment, also known as the ECRL 3.0, is estimated at RM50 billion. This cost estimate is also lower than the estimated construction cost of ECRL 2.0, which passes through the southern alignment and the implementation of the stand-along Serendah Bypass project,” Wee said.

In a presentation to the media, Wee said that the original ECRL plan under Barisan Nasional (BN) which includes the first phase construction cost of RM46 billion and second phase construction cost of RM9 billion, came up to RM55 billion.

ECRL 2.0 which was re-designed during Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) era to cut costs, included the construction and provisional quantity as well as the abandonment cost, which came to a tune of RM47.38 billion. After the cost of the Serendah Bypass was included, this grew to RM52.52 billion.

Wee said that although the implementation of the ECRL will now revert to the original plan with regards to the northern alignment, the construction of the project can still be completed within seven years, and have its operations commence in 2027.

He said that Ministry of Transport had also proposed that the ECRL alignment between Serendah and Port Klang to feature dual tracks, or a standard gauge track of 1.43 metres for the ECRL, and a metre gauge track of one metre for the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB).

He said that the metre gauge track will be able to function as the rail bypass for KTMB’s cargo line between Serendah and Port Klang.

“The federal government will now be able to save on infrastructure expenditure by offering the ideal solution of implementing two rail projects for the price of one.

“Meanwhile, the social impact of the northern alignment is not as excessive as the southern alignment. For example, under the Land Acquisition Act, the land to be acquired under the northern alignment is expected to involve 4,302 lots as compared to the southern alignment, which is higher, at 6,038 lots.

“The lesser the plots of land that needs to be acquired, the less compensation that needs to be paid by the government to the landowners. This will also reduce the inconvenience that may be faced by the land and property owners involved for the purpose of the ECRL project,” Wee added.

The Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd is the project and asset owner of the ECRL , an ambitious project which was brought into Malaysia by the then BN government, led by Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The project consists of three sections: Section A, which runs from Kota Baru in Kelantan to Dungun in Terengganu, Section B, from Dungun to Mentakab in Pahang and Section C, from Mentakab to Port Klang in Selangor.

Beijing-lined China Communications Construction Company Ltd is the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning contractor for the project.

The Chinese interest in the ECRL came from it being part of the republic’s mega Belt and Road Initiative, to push for global dominance.

After Pakatan Harapan took over Putrajaya in the 14th general election, it revised the agreement citing the project’s exorbitant cost and the country’s staggering debt.

The renegotiation with China resulted in a RM21.5 cost billion reduction, and the PH government also slashed the number of stations from 24 to 20.

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