ECRL study to be released once finalised, Transport Minister says

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the study was conducted in 2009 when the US dollar was at RM2.20. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the study was conducted in 2009 when the US dollar was at RM2.20. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 — The feasibility study on the 600km East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) once it is finalised, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai in Parliament said in Parliament today.

He was responding to questions raised by Opposition lawmakers over the RM55 billion rail line, during his winding-up speech during the Budget 2017debate.

According to The Star Online, Liow said the study was conducted in 2009 when the US dollar was at RM2.20.

He said the alignment of the rail link has also been extended from 545km in the original study to 620km, to link Kuantan Port and Port Klang, which would require 50km of tunnelling work through the Titiwangsa range.

“This created a different alignment, for which we had to come up with a different costing. The Economic Planning Unit (EPU) will answer all the details. All these issues are being politicised to gain political mileage,” The Star Online quoted him as saying.

Liow also said that the feasibility study on the ECRL falls under Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan’s portfolio, giving assurances that it would be released.

“We are a government that is transparent in our negotiations,” Liow was quoted saying.

Earlier today, the federal Opposition pact said the report by HSS Integrated Sdn Bhd showed the project's value was RM29 billion (RM53.2 million per km), whereas China-owned China Communications Construction Company was awarded RM55 billion (RM91.7 million per km) for it.

It also claimed to have debunked the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) minister’s denial that the project is the “world’s most expensive”, but the debate continues as Abdul Rahman listed several other railway projects deemed more expensive than the ECRL.

HSS Integrated is a subsidiary of HSS Engineers Bhd, a Bursa Malaysia-listed company that has been involved in several major engineering projects locally such as the electrified double-tracking from Ipoh to Padang Besar, the Sungai-Buloh to Kajang MRT I Line, the Ampang Line LRT extension project and the KLIA Express Rail Link.

The study by HSS was commissioned by the East Coast Economic Region Development Council in December 2009, for a proposed 545km route from Kuala Lumpur to Tumpat, passing through Mentakab, Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu and Kota Baru.