A detailed map of the East Coast Rail Link route. Photo: SPAD

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia March 15 2017 – The Malaysian government has revealed the preferred route alignment for its East Coast Rail Link. The 600 kilometre route will cost $13.1 billion to construct. The Malaysian people will have three months to make their opinions on the route known.

The route will start at Port Klang on the west coast near Kuala Lumpur and then cross peninsular Malaysia and up to the northeastern states, ending at Kelantan near the Thai border.

Spad granted conditional approval for the railway on March 2 and the commission will now hold public inspection sessions at 38 locations along the proposed route.

The main purpose of the public inspection is to provide an avenue for the public to convey feedback on the proposed project. The display also aims to educate the public on the socio-economic benefits of the ECRL project for the nation.

In addition to the 538 kilometre main line, the project includes the construction of 66 kilometres of branch lines and connections to the existing network.

Key engineering features include an 18 kilometre tunnel between Gombak and Bentong. Based on the details of the ECRL, there will be a total of 50 kilometres of tunnelling and underground alignment. Malaysian company Gamuda are in the lead to secure the contract.

CIMB Research said that some 10 to 30 per cent of the total contract value could be allocated to local contractors, at an estimated range of $1.2 to $3.7 billion.
‘In an optimistic scenario, the ECRL could roll out RM16.5bil worth of tenders in stages, over 12 months beginning mid-2017.
‘If this is the case, rail infrastructure contract awards are bound to pick up pace in the second half of 2017’ according to a recent CIMB Research report.

The electrified line will reduce the journey time between Gombak and Wakaf Bharu to less than four hours. Passenger services will be operated by a fleet of 11 eight-car EMUs, each accommodating up to 600 passengers.

The final alignment is due to be approved in June and construction will begin in July. Commercial operations are scheduled to start in July 2024.

In November last year, China signed a deal to finance and build the railway.