The proposed East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project has been shelved due to Malaysia’s need to manage its finances, according to prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

In reports by The Edge and The Star, the premiere said the Chinese government has been made aware of the decision, and that it understands the financial woes currently facing the current administration. “I believe China itself does not want to see Malaysia become a bankrupt country,” Mahathir said.

Even so, he stated that the government would have to provide compensation on the cancellation of these projects, which will be negotiated at a later date. “This is due to the stupidity of the previous government,” commented Mahathir.

Initially, the railway was to consist of two phases; Phase 1 with 21 stations along a 600.3 km line, connecting Kota Bharu in Kelantan to the Integrated Transport Terminal Gombak (ITT Gombak) in Selangor – a future interchange for the Kelana Jaya LRT line – and Phase 2, which comprises 88 km of combined track from Gombak North to Port Klang, and an extension link between Kota Bharu and Pengkalan Kubor.

Previously, the project was under review by the government to ascertain not just the construction costs (said to be RM80.92 billion) but also the viability of maintain the rail network. The latter, as explained by finance minister Lim Guan Eng, was estimated to be RM600 million to RM1 billion annually.