Government still finalising ECRL alignment, says transport minister

(MMO) – The government is in the midst of finalising the alignment of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project, which saw changes made by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration to its original alignment.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong said the alignment is divided into three portions: Kota Baru to Dungun (Section A), Dungun to Mentakab (Section B) and Mentakab to Port Klang (Section C).

“For Section C, we are in the midst of finalising the route and stations along this alignment.

“This process must be done because the government is looking into several factors like project viability, rail connectivity and financial implications before any approval can be given,” he told Parliament today.

Wee was responding to a question by Umno’s Jelebu MP Datuk Jalaluddin Alias who asked if the government will follow the realignment made by the previous PH administration.

Wee further explained that the National Physical Planning Council meeting attended by several mentris besar (MBs) on June 11 had discussed the alignment.

“In the meeting, a decision was made that the matter (ECRL alignment) would be referred to the Transport Ministry and chief secretary to the government before a decision is made.

“The ministry had on two occasions discussed this with the respective state governments.

“In fact, this week, we will be meeting the Selangor government once again to look at options that would benefit the people of Selangor and their concerns, including the (Klang Gates) quartz ridge in Gombak and Batu dam,” he said.

He added that environmental and social impact assessments (SIA) for the project needed to be conducted with Orang Asli villages taken into account.

“Four Orang Asli villages would be affected by the latest plan, compared to the original alignment,” he said.

Wee also assured that no land will be acquired until the alignment has been finalised.

It was previously reported that the original ECRL alignment by the Barisan Nasional government would have cost at least RM20 billion more than what was planned by the PH government, as the former involved more tunnelling work, including a tunnel from Genting Sempah in Bentong, Pahang to Selangor, which would have cost more than RM8 billion.

The current alignment for the ECRL, which links Kota Baru to Port Klang, is estimated at RM44 billion, or RM64 million per km.

This is in contrast with the original alignment which was estimated to cost RM65.5 billion, or RM95 million per km, according to the BN government then.