Malaysia has reportedly accepted a nearly 14% increase in the estimated construction cost for the contentious East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project.

According to a Reuters report, the project cost was revised to $12.08bn from the previously decided $10.63bn.

The ECRL is a key railway project under China’s flagship Belt and Road initiative and slated to connect the eastern coast of Malaysia with the western part of the country.

The construction works of ECRL were suspended in 2018 due to high associated costs.

The Malaysian Government subsequently signed new agreements, which substantially scaled back the project and reduced the cost by one-third to $10.63bn.

Apart from adjustments in the project costs, the latest revision also increases the length of the route from 640km to 665km.

The Malaysian unit of China Communications Construction (CCCC) is building the project.

Once complete, Malaysia Rail Link (MRLSB) will operate the line in a 50:50 joint venture with CCCC.

In a statement, Malaysian Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong said that the changes increased ‘the viability of the ECRL project and will provide further economic, environmental, and social benefits’.

The construction works have resumed and the project connecting the east coast city of Kota Bharu and Port Klang on the west coast is expected to complete in seven years.

According to the ministry, around 21.4% of the project was completed by last month.

The ECRL is said to be the biggest economic and trade project between China and Malaysia.