The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) service, set to be operational by January 2026, is one that will not burden consumers, transport minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong says. According to The Edge, claims that ECRL fares are to cost up to six times more than airfares are speculative and unsubstantiated.

Wee also says there are ongoing discussions at the federal level to have ECRL fares be equivalent with Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad’s (KTMB) electric train service (ETS) for the west coast.

“It is a known fact that the ETS fares are very reasonable and much lower compared to airfares for routes and destinations on the west coast of the peninsula. The ECRL fares are fixed based on the recommendations of the Land Public Transport Agency (APAD).”

“Basically, the rates to be fixed will ensure that ECRL fares remain competitive and affordable and at the same time be able to pay for the cost of operations and maintenance. What is most important is that it will not burden the consumers,” Wee says.

Now, construction of the 640-km mega project is on track, and it is expected to be completed by the end of 2026. The route, which involves the construction of around 59 tunnels, covers four states – Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Selangor – and will cost roughly RM44 billion to build. That’s RM68.7 million per km, down from RM95.5 million.

The use of the standard gauge track – which as its name suggests, is the common modern rail standard – opens the path for faster trains, of up to 300 km/h if the operator desires. ECRL passenger trains will run at 160 km/h and goods trains will go at half that speed. Wee said the cargo transport service is expected to generate more than 70% of ECRL’s revenue.