East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project is a 640km railway link connecting different parts of the east coast region with the west coast region in Malaysia.

Malaysia Rail Link (MRLSB) is developing the project and will operate it in a 50:50 joint venture with China Communications Construction Company (CCCC). The Ministry of Transport, through Agensi Pengangkutan Awam Darat (APAD), will supervise and regulate the project.

Construction on the ECRL project began with the groundbreaking held in Kuantan, Malaysia, in August 2017, but the work was suspended in 2018 due to financial reasons. Construction resumed in July 2019, with the completion scheduled for December 2026.

ECRL is the biggest economic and trade project between China and Malaysia.

ECRL project background

The ECRL rail project was originally planned to be developed in two phases, with phase one covering 600km of track and phase two with an 88km stretch.

Some modifications have been made to the alignment due to cultural, heritage, and environmental concerns. The realigned stretch will run from Mentakab to Port Klang via Negeri Sembilan to avoid traverse through the Klang Gate Quartz Ridge.

The new alignment also resulted in a significant reduction in construction costs from MYR65.5bn ($15.8bn) to MYR44bn ($10bn), based on a comprehensive value engineering exercise.

ECRL route details

The new rail link will pass through the states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan, WP Putrajaya, and Selangor. It will originate at Kota Bharu, the state capital of Kelantan, and terminate at Port Klang in Selangor. It will reduce the travel time from Kota Bharu to WP Putrajaya to approximately four hours.

The route will have three interchange stations along, namely Mentakab, Bangi/Kajang, and Putrajaya Sentral.

The Putrajaya Sentral station will be an interchange with Express Rail Link (ERL) for those travelling to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and KLIA2 and with Mass Rapid Transit 2 (MRT2) Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya (SSP) line.

The line will interchange with KTM Electric Train Service (ETS) and KTM Komuter service at Bangi / Kajang, while the Mentakab station will allow the ECRL to interchange with KTM Intercity and KTM Kargo service.

The standard gauge double-track railway line will allow passenger trains to travel at speeds up to 160km/h and freight trains at 80km/h.

Stations and tunnels along the ECRL route

The East Coast Rail Link project will comprise a total of 20 stations, including 14 passenger stations, five combined passenger and freight stations, and one freight station.

“Freight transport along the East Coast rail link will account for 70% of the total revenue generated by the rail network.”

The route will have approximately 40 tunnels from Kota Bharu to Port Klang, including the 2.8km-long Kuantan Tunnel, the 1.1km-long Paka Tunnel, and the 871m-long Dungun Tunnel. The longest tunnel measuring 7km will be built in the Jelebu-Semenyih area.

The line will also feature multiple viaducts of approximately 100km in length.

Contractors involved

CCCC is the main contractor, while HSSI was appointed to provide supervising consultancy services, detail design, and shop drawing design consultancy services for the East Coast rail link.

Bursa Malaysia was selected as the engineering and project management consultant for the project, while logistics services are provided by FGV Holdings.

AECOM was contracted to supervise the stations, viaducts, tunnels, and depots of the project.

SANY supplied construction equipment such as cranes, rotary drilling rigs, concrete pump machinery and excavators.

ECRL project benefits

Cooperation between MRLSB and CCCC will increase the involvement of local contractors in ECRL’s civil works up to 40%. It will also improve bilateral relations between both countries.

The project is expected to generate jobs worth MYR17.6bn ($4.2bn) during the construction.

It will boost small and medium-sized businesses, as well as increase the demand for housing, supplies, and transport in the regions along the East Coast Rail Link.

The Kuantan Port-ECRL-Port Klang section will shorten the travel time between the two ports, thus benefiting trade in the region.

Freight transport along the East Coast rail link will account for 70% of the total revenue generated by the rail network, while the remaining 30% will be driven by passenger transport.