Why are trains better than planes? Google for the answers (one example here) but here are two points from me. It can carry MORE people and MORE cargo per trip. It’s generally cheaper too, for the passengers, the cargo customers and even the operator. So yes, I support more linkages because it would mean more economic activities which in turn would spur creation of jobs and thus more investments whether from external or domestically. Only when cities or towns become more connected that property investment potential would increase as well. There’s another new one in Malaysia. The East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) which will cost an estimated RM55 billion to build. The trains would have a top speed of up to 160km per hour. This is the speed for the KLIA Ekspres and KLIA Transit. Currently, the trains used are supplied by Siemens AG. At the moment, it is the fastest speed for rail travel in Malaysia. In fact, it takes just 28 minutes to reach KLIA from KL Sentral, something which is not doable by the usual car travelling speed. Even if doable, it will be extremely unsafe.
ECRL would also be privately funded. No prizes for guessing the company for which the funds would come from. It is China’s state-owned enterprise China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC). Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) – the body under the Finance Ministry has been formed and is tasked to undertake the implementation of the ECRL. The newly-established MRL is the operator and owner of the 600km ECRL, a key catalytic infrastructure project for the East Coast Economic Region. It will be providing the much-needed rail connection to Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang. A few familiar local contractor names are expected to benefit from the project including Gamuda and IJM Corp Bhd which which have strong rail expertise.
What is happening currently is that MRL has launched a three-month public display of the ECRL and if there are no major objections, the construction is targeted to start in July 2017. It will connect Wakaf Baru in Kelantan to the Integrated Transport Terminal in Gombak and will eventually be extended to Port Klang. The train will be carrying both passengers and freight. Full article in thestar here. This project will not be managed by Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB). It will be independently operated by another operator. Sometimes, a split enables us to see what are some of the possibilities. Who knows, losses could be minimised or operating profits could be hastened? Happy following and I wish it will be completed on time or ahead of time. After all, it was also China who said that it could build the High Speed Rail faster than the current timelines agreed with Singapore.
written on 29 March 2017
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