PUTRAJAYA, April 5 — The Transport Ministry officially announced today the realignment of the East Coast Rail Link’s (ECRL) Section C to the original route approved under the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong said in a press conference here that the Cabinet approved the realignment during a meeting on September 2 last year.
“The original alignment for Section C, which is also known as the Northern Alignment, will see the ECRL traverse from Mentakab to Port Klang via Bentong, Gombak and Serendah, compared to the Southern Alignment via Negri Sembilan.
“MoT, which supervises the implementation of the ECRL, had closely examined the Northern Alignment and found that it will enhance the viability of the ECRL project and provide further economic, environmental and social benefits,” he added.
However, Wee said that there had been some changes made so the alignment would not fully return to the way it was planned under the then BN government.
“We are not using 100 per cent of the alignment by BN. It’s further improved to Westport and Northport. So we changed the approach.
“The Northern Alignment has also been designed to minimise environmental impact. MoT would like to assure that the ECRL project will not affect the Gombak Quartz Ridge which is being established as a Unesco Heritage Site,” he added.
Wee said that the proposed design for the rail line will be elevated and will traverse through an existing road to go across the quartz ridge.
“In short, the ECRL route will avoid the Gombak Quartz Ridge and will also not affect its buffer zone,” he said.
Wee said that the Northern Alignment would also not encroach into the Batu Dam area, one of the dams supplying water to residents of Selangor and the Klang Valley. He said that the ECRL has mitigation plans in place to ensure the alignment of the ECRL avoids the said dam and its surrounding water catchment areas.
“However, the Northern Alignment is expected to cross only three water catchment areas between Mentakab and Port Klang, while the Southern Alignment is expected to cross at least four water catchment areas,” he said.
The realignment works for ECRL 3.0 involves a distance of 201km for Section C, which includes a spur line of 32.4km, compared to the 185.5km for the same area under ECRL 2.0, which included a spur line of 41.5km.
With the changes, Wee said that the alignment from Kot Baru to Port Klang will now have a total distance of 665km.
The Northern Alignment will comprise a total of seven stations in the long run, with five to be built in the initial stage, namely: Temerloh, Bentong, ITT Gombak, Serendah and Jalan Kastam in Port Klang.
Wee said that the Temerloh, Bentong, Serendah and Jalan Kastam (Port Klang) would serve as both passenger and freight stations, while ITT Gombak would cater solely for passengers.
Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRLSB) is the project and asset owner of the ECRL.
The ambitious project was brought into Malaysia by the then BN government then led by Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The project consists of three sections. Section A 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.
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 (PH) 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.