KUALA LUMPUR • The newly revived East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project may be celebrated in a relaunch ceremony on July 25, Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke said yesterday.
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 the future) to link up the whole railway network with ports to ensure industrialisation will take place along the railway corridor," he said at a conference.
The rail line, which is expected to link the east and west coasts of Peninsular Malaysia, was suspended for several months from July last year as terms of its construction were renegotiated.
Then 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 and China Communications Construction signed a supplementary agreement in Beijing in April that brought down the development cost from RM66 billion (S$22 billion) to RM44 billion. The 688km line was also shortened by 40km.
Under the new deal, local participation in civil works on the key land bridge in Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative was also increased from 30 per cent to 40 per cent.
Mr Loke also hinted that there may be "good news" soon about the planned Rapid Transit System (RTS) connecting Johor Baru and Singapore.
Both countries had signed a bilateral agreement last year to build the 4km cross-border MRT link from Woodlands in Singapore to Bukit Chagar in Johor to help alleviate congestion at the Causeway. But Singapore and Malaysia in May agreed to suspend work on the RTS link until Sept 30.
Mr Loke said he was confident an agreement would be reached before then. "It is my hope to see the RTS take place," he said.
"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," the minister said.
He added that the Malaysian government is looking at solutions to revive the High Speed Rail project that will connect Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Last September, both sides agreed to suspend the project until May next year.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK