MRL says revised ECRL’s KL-Kota Baru travel time is four hours, quashing Najib’s claim

A general view of the construction site of the East Coast Rail Line project in Bentong July 10, 2018. — Bernama pic
A general view of the construction site of the East Coast Rail Line project in Bentong July 10, 2018. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 17 — Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) has refuted Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s claim that the revised East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) increases the travel time between here and Kota Baru to five to six hours.

It said in a statement that the travel time from the Kelantan state capital to Putrajaya Sentral under the new southern alignment, which is 550km long and covers 17 stations, was in fact approximately four hours.

MRL pointed out that under the previous alignment, the distance from Kota Baru to Gombak was 525km covering 18 stations.

“With a travel speed of 160km per hour, the additional 25km adds a time of less than 10 minutes to the journey, which will be further reduced due to the reduction of one stop,” it said.

MRL added that with three existing train lines available at Putrajaya Sentral including the MRT2, ERL and KTM services, the options for passengers to branch out to Kuala Lumpur, KLIA and further north would be more varied than at the Integrated Transport Terminal Gombak.

Najib had yesterday said that the revised ECRL route will make rail travel from here to Kota Baru almost as long as a regular car journey.

The Pekan MP said the omission of the Titiwangsa Range tunnel through Bentong in the updated ECRL plans will add another hour or two to the trip.

“In other words, if we travel by car [from KL to Kota Baru], it takes seven hours... so if the [ECRL trip duration] is almost close to the time it takes to travel by car, there is no advantage in using the ECRL,” Najib said, adding that his administration’s plan to reduce the travel time to four hours on ECRL was now dashed.

The former prime minister explained that passengers from Kuala Lumpur would have to use the station hub in Putrajaya, thus travelling south to get on board the ECRL before heading north, and this will add another hour or two to the trip.

However, he did not provide any details to back up his argument.

The Prime Minister’s Office on Friday announced that the construction cost for Phases 1 and 2 of the ECRL will now resume, after a cost-cutting to RM44 billion, a reduction of RM21.5 billion from its original cost of RM65.5 billion.

After the announcement, MRL CEO Datuk Seri Darwis Abdul Razak said that the railway construction works will begin as early as this May.

He said the expected construction date is subject to approval from the relevant authorities.

The mega project was initially shelved after Pakatan Harapan (PH) ousted Barisan Nasional (BN) in the general election last year, due to its high cost.

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