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Now that the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) is back on track and running through Putrajaya as one of its 20 stops, the federal administrative capital is set to be a rail hub, The Star reports.

This will be even more so if the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project is successfully renegotiated and comes back to life – the original plan had Putrajaya as one of the stops. Currently, the city is connected to the KLIA Express Rail Link (ERL), while the MRT Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putra­jaya line is under construction and is expected to start operating in 2022. The ECRL is scheduled to be completed by the end of December 2026.

“This will improve passenger connectivity to other parts of the peninsula’s west coast as well as provide direct link to KLIA. This is a significant improvem­ent to the single interchange via LRT in the integrated transport terminal in Gombak as per previous arrangement,” said prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. It was also reported that there are plans to revive the abandoned Putrajaya rail link project and extend it to the Kajang MRT station.

The new and shorter 640 km ECRL route does not bore through the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge in Gombak. From Mentakab in Pahang, the new route goes south into Negeri Sembilan (a new addition, making it five states plus Putrajaya) before heading to Port Klang via Bangi/Kajang and Putrajaya.

The original route cuts through the main range via Bentong; the new one heads down to N9 after Mentakab

The original route was a more direct route through the main range via Bentong and Gombak, after Mentakab. The government described the new route as a land bridge between the ports in Klang and Kuantan.

On April 12, Malaysia Rail Link (MRL) and China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) signed a supplementary agreement that paved the way for the resumption ECRL project, which was suspended when Pakatan Harapan came into power. The cost is now RM44 billion, which is a reduction of RM21.5 billion or 32.8% from the previous total of RM65.5 billion. The cost per kilometre is now RM68.7 million, compared to the previous RM95.5 million, the government said.

Both MRL and CCCC have agreed to form a 50:50 joint-venture company to manage, operate and maintain the ECRL rail network. “CCCC will provide technical support and share the operational risk after the project’s completion. In addition, Malaysia can also leverage on CCCC’s expertise in operation and maintenance, hence improving the long-term viability of the project,” Mahathir said.

Also, the percentage of local participation in ECRL will be increased to 40% of the civil works, from the original deal’s 30%. Work on the ECRL will begin as early as next month, subject to approval from authorities. The estimated date of completion is now at the end of December 2026, compared to the original June 2024 target.