SOUTHEAST ASIA CONSTRUCTION27 May 2020
ECRL project gets greenlight for Kota Bharu-Dungun realignment
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Malaysia’s federal government has given its final approval for the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project’s Railway Scheme for Section A, paving the way for construction work on the 210.4-km realignment from Kota Bharu, Kelantan to Dungun, Terengganu to commence soon.

Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL), the project and asset owner of the ECRL, announced that it recently received a letter from the Land Public Transport Agency (APAD) highlighting that the proposed realignment to the ECRL Railway Scheme for Section A had been approved by the Minister of Transport.

According to MRL, the approval for the ECRL Railway Scheme for Section A would include, among others, the final alignment route, location of passenger/freight stations, and the number of lots to be under land acquisition for the Kota Bharu-Dungun stretch. In addition, a 14.4-km future spur line is planned 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 Bharu and Pasir Puteh in Kelantan as well as Jerteh, Bandar Permaisuri, Kuala Terengganu, and Dungun in Terengganu,” said MRL in its statement.

MRL further mentioned that a total of 2,974 feedback from respondents were received during the three-month ECRL Public Inspection for Section A, of which 98% (2,914 respondents) supported the Kota Bharu-Dungun alignment. The remaining 2% (60 respondents) who objected were mainly land or house owners whose properties had to be acquired to make way for the project.

Tan Sri Dr Ismail Bin Haji Bakar, chairman of MRL, pointed out that the federal government’s approval for the ECRL Railway Scheme for Section A augurs well with the project’s time frame of ensuring preparatory works and earthworks for the Kota-Bharu-Dungun stretch to kick off by mid-2020.

He said the ECRL Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) report for Section A as well as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for Section A have also received approvals. Meanwhile, the Section A Social Impact Assessment (SIA) report is awaiting approval from the relevant authority.

The 640-km ECRL project is divided into three sections: Section A (Kota Bharu- 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 Negeri Sembilan, Selangor, and WP Putrajaya .

On the progress of the ECRL, Dr Ismail said the project’s overall completion rate currently stands at 16%, noting that certain construction works such as those involving tunnels and viaducts have since resumed in Section B for several weeks. In mid-April 2020, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) 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,” said Dr Ismail, adding that the project’s progress was slightly ahead of schedule when the MCO was implemented on 18 March 2020.

Slated for completion by December 2026, the ECRL is expected to cut travel time and link Kota Bharu with WP Putrajaya in approximately four hours. The project has been designed to provide a much-improved connectivity throughout the East Coast region, as well as connecting it to the West Coast. At the same time, it takes into consideration the potential growth for the industrial, commercial and tourism sectors along the ECRL corridor.

Image: MRL