ECRL progress at 29%, on track for December 2026 completion – Genting Tunnel works start next month –

Here’s an update on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project. Malaysia Rail Link (MRL) CEO Datuk Seri Darwis Abdul Razak says that overall progress is currently at 28.57%, including construction work in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Selangor.

“Overall we do not face many problems. Alhamdulillah, many issues have been resolved with good cooperation from all parties, especially the state governments involved. For Kelantan, the ECRL alignment is 43.86 km, the progress of infrastructure works has reached 21.58% and the land acquisition process for the main alignment has been fully completed,” he told reporters in Kota Bharu yesterday, reported by Bernama.

The MRL chief said that the 665 km rail project is progressing well and is on track to be fully completed by December 2026, with operations expected to start in January 2027. A big chapter is coming soon, as construction of the 16.39 km Genting Tunnel from Pahang to Selangor will begin next month.

Click to enlarge map

“The Genting Tunnel excavation process involving 10 km in Pahang and another six km in Selangor is expected to take two and a half years with a productivity rate of approximately between 400 to 600 metres per month,” Darwis said.

“The target of passengers is 5.6 million a year, each journey involves six carriages capable of carrying 440 passengers. However, the ticket price has yet to be decided, it depends on the government,” he added.

Here’s a recap on the ECRL. Some might remember the project being cancelled by the Pakatan Harapan government, and that happened in August 2018 soon after PH came into power. But after negotiations with China, the project was revived in April 2019 with a new cost of RM44 billion, a reduction of RM21.5 billion or 32.8%. The cost per km figure became RM68.7 million, down from RM95.5 million, the then government said.

The now discarded ‘southern route’ proposed by the PH govt does away with the tunnel and goes into N9

With the cost reduction came a realignment. The new and shorter 640 km route with 20 stations does not bore through the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge in Gombak. From Mentakab in Pahang, it goes south into Negeri Sembilan (a new addition, making it five states plus Putrajaya) before heading to Port Klang via Bangi/Kajang and Putrajaya. The original route (688 km, 26 stops) was a more direct one through the main range via Bentong and Gombak, after Mentakab.

In September 2020, the Cabinet approved the reversion of the ECRL to its original alignment, as opposed to the southern alignment that goes to N9. This original route includes the double-bore Genting Tunnel from Bentong to Gombak – the longest rail tunnel in Malaysia – and a 14km long single-bore Serendah Tunnel from Gombak to Serendah.

Now, the final distance is 665 km and the total cost is RM50 billion. The use of a standard gauge track – which as its name suggests, is the common modern rail standard – opens the path for faster trains, of up to 300 km/h if the operator desires. ECRL passenger trains will run at 160 km/h and goods trains will go at half that speed.

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