KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The newly revived East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project may be celebrated in a relaunch ceremony on July 25, says Transport Minister Anthony Loke.
He said Malaysian companies are also set to play a larger role, as they will take on 40 per cent of the project's civil works.
"It is our hope that we fully utilise the project for the benefit of the Malaysian economy, not only at the construction stage but (in future) link up the whole railway network with the ports to ensure industrialisation will take place along the railway corridor," he said.
Mr Loke added that the project had the potential to boost the economy while effectively improving connectivity.
The ECRL was put on hold for several months from July 2018 as terms of its construction were renegotiated.
Former prime minister Najib Razak had presided over the project's ground-breaking ceremony in Pekan in August 2017.
The project was revived after Malaysian Rail Link Sdn Bhd and China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) signed a supplementary agreement in Beijing in April.
Under the new deal, the project's development cost was brought down from RM66 billion (S$21.7 billion) to RM44 billion and the previous 688km line was also shortened by 40km.
Mr Loke also hinted that there may also be "good news" in about two months concerning the Rapid Transit System (RTS) connecting Johor Baru and Singapore.
"It is my hope to see the RTS take place," he said in his keynote address at the Women In Rail Malaysia Leadership Conference here on Monday (July 8).
"I believe if there is a will, we can always find creative solutions, and I am thankful that our friends in Singapore are very pragmatic and cooperative in helping us find a solution to the problem," he said.
The RTS was put on hold until the end of September, but Mr Loke said he was confident that an agreement would be reached before then.
A spokesman at Singapore's Ministry of Transport said on Tuesday (July 9) "Singapore looks forward to receiving Malaysia’s proposal on the RTS Link Project".
"We continue to believe that the RTS Link is a mutually beneficial project, and are committed to working with the Malaysian Government to bring it to fruition," said the spokesman.
Mr Loke added that the Malaysian government is also looking at solutions to revive yet another suspended rail project, the High Speed Rail (HSR) project that is supposed to connect Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
The HSR has been put on hold until May next year.
Separately, Mr Loke said the government was looking to revive the idea of developing a national skills centre to train people for the rail transport sector, similar to the National Rail Centre of Excellence mooted by the Barisan Nasional administration but which was never realised.
"We are looking at setting up a Centre of Excellence for the entire country. It will be more efficient, more sustainable, and more impactful," he added.
Mr Loke said the centre would also benefit players around the region, and he plans to begin its first phase next year.