KUALA LUMPUR, May 18 — The federal government has given its final approval to the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project’s Railway Scheme for Section A, paving the way for construction works on the 210.4-kilometre realignment from Kota Baru, Kelantan to Dungun, Terengganu to commence soon.
Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL), the project and asset owner of the ECRL, said it had received a letter from the Land Public Transport Agency (APAD) dated May 14, 2020, which stated that the proposed realignment to the ECRL Railway Scheme for Section A was approved by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong recently.
The approval included, among others, the final alignment route, location of passenger/freight stations, and the number of lots to be under land acquisition for the Kota Baru-Dungun stretch, it said.
In addition, a 14.4 km future spurline is expected to link the ECRL mainline in Kelantan with the port of Tok Bali.
“The ECRL will now have six stations under Section A consisting of Kota Baruf and Pasir Puteh in Kelantan, as well Jerteh, Bandar Permaisuri, Kuala Terengganu, and Dungun in Terengganu,” it said in a statement today.
MRL said it received a total of 2,974 feedback from respondents during the three month ECRL Public Inspection for Section A, of which an overwhelming 98 per cent or 2,914 respondents supported the Kota Baru-Dungun alignment.
The remaining two per cent or 60 respondents who objected were mainly land or house owners whose properties had to be acquired to make way for the project, it said.
MRL chairman Tan Sri Ismail Bakar said the government's approval would augur well with the project’s time frame in ensuring that the preparatory works and earthworks for the Kota-Baru-Dungun stretch will kick off by mid-2020.
He added that the ECRL Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) report for Section A, as well as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the section, had also received approvals recently, while the Section A Social Impact Assessment (SIA) report is awaiting approval from the relevant authority.
The 640km ECRL project is divided into three sections, namely Section A (Kota Baru-Dungun), Section B (Dungun-Mentakab), and Section C (Mentakab-Port Klang).
The rail infrastructure will traverse the East Coast states of Kelantan, Terengganu, and Pahang before linking with Negri Sembilan, Selangor, and the Federal Territory of Putrajaya.
Ismail said the ECRL overall project completion rate currently stands at 16 per cent, noting that certain construction works such as those involving tunnels and viaducts had since resumed in Section B for several weeks.
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry had in mid-April 2020 approved the application by ECRL’s main contractor, China Communications Construction (ECRL) Sdn Bhd, to operate during the movement control order (MCO) period.
“We view the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the progress of the ECRL project to be minimal at this stage considering that construction works are already back on track,” he said, adding that the project’s progress was slightly ahead of schedule when the MCO was implemented on March 18, 2020.
MRL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Minister of Finance Incorporated.
Scheduled for completion by December 2026, the ECRL will cut travel time and expected to link Kota Baru with Putrajaya in approximately four hours. — Bernama