KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia on Wednesday (Mar 8) unveiled its proposed alignment for the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), a new railway that will connect its east coast states to the Greater Klang Valley.
The proposed alignment features 23 stations running along a 600.3km route. The new line is projected to connect passengers from Wakaf Bharu in Kelantan and Gombak in Kuala Lumpur in about four hours.
As required by the Land Public Transport Act, Malaysia's Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) also launched a three-month public inspection exercise for the railway scheme on Wednesday.
Members of the public will be able to view the proposed alignment and other details, such as the locations of interchange stations connecting with other rail lines at SPAD's headquarters, until Jun 5.
They will also be able to do so at 38 "high traffic locations" including the district offices in Kota Bharu, Tumpat, Bachok, Pasir Putih, Besut, Setiu, Kuala Terengganu, Hulu Terengganu, Marang, Kemaman, Dungun, Kuantan, Maran, Temerloh and Bentong, SPAD said in a news release.
A "GAME CHANGER": NAJIB
Launching the public inspection exercise, Prime Minister Najib Razak called the proposed railway line a "game changer" that would help close the development gap between the country's east and west coast and grow the gross domestic product (GDP) of three east coast states in Peninsular Malaysia by another 1.5 per cent at the current rate.
The project will change the economic landscapes of Terengganu, Kelantan and Pahang and turn them into trade hubs and tourism destinations, as well as stimulate small and medium enterprises and new investments, he said in his speech.
Najib said the east coast states had huge potential for development in sectors such as agriculture, commerce and tourism but needed a more efficient transport system.
"Besides being environmentally friendly, the ECRL will facilitate movements of the people during the festive season," he said.
The Malaysian prime minister also defended the involvement of other countries such as China in the project, saying that it will not affect Malaysia's sovereignty and "should not be politicised".
"Teaming up with the major economic nations such as China, Saudi Arabia, India and Japan will be beneficial to the country and the people," he said.