Malaysia revives China-backed rail link, cost cut by a third

Malaysia revives China-backed rail link, cost cut by a third

The NST reports that Tun Daim Zainuddin, who is heading the ECRL talks with China as the PM's special envoy, said the 688km link would be slightly shorter but will remain as a double tracking line.

Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd and China Communications Construction Company Ltd have signed a supplementary agreement that will pave the way for the resumption of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project.

The PMO further explained that the supplementary agreement also covers all four aspects of the ECRL project. "They include Gombak, but the new alignment will have a new station in Jelebu, Negri Sembilan", he told the Malaysian media at the Malaysian Embassy, here Friday.

The two sides have agreed to cut the cost of the 688-kilometer (430-mile) rail project to 44 billion ringgit ($10.7 billion) from the original 65.5 billion ($16 billion), Mahathir's office said in a statement.

Apart from the rail link, the government a year ago also cancelled two China-backed pipelines costing 9.3 billion ringgit ($2.3 billion) after discovering that 90 percent of the project's costs had been paid but only 13% of work had been completed.

The ECRL will link Port Klang in Selangor to Pengkalan Kubor in Kelantan. "Being able to save RM21.5 billion is a big achievement", Daim said.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is scheduled to visit China later this month for a conference on the Belt-Road Initiative, of which the ECRL represents its flagship in Malaysia.

Daim said the ECRL construction will resume as soon as possible.

Kok said with this new development, the Ministry hopes that China will make more commitment to purchase Malaysian commodities, especially palm oil and rubber.

Malaysia said Friday a major Chinese-backed railway had been revived following a deal to cut costs, lifting a suspension slapped on the project when a corruption-plagued regime lost power previous year. "On other matters, you have to ask the Prime Minister himself", he added.

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