MALAYSIA: The government is planning to start construction of the 538 route-km East Coast Rail Link next year once agreements for funding have been agreed with China.

Speaking to local media at the start of an official visit to China on October 31, Treasury Secretary-General Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah said that he expected to sign agreements during his trip for China ExIm Bank to fund the railway, while an engineering, procurement and construction contract has been agreed with China Communication Construction Co. Once these contracts have been formally approved, expected by the end of the year, construction of the railway could begin, Abdullah said.

The railway is being developed as a means to enhance transport links between northeastern Malaysia and the Kuala Lumpur region. Running through the country’s mountainous interior, ECRL would meet KTMB’s existing metre-gauge railway at Mentakab before reaching the coast at Kuantan. It would then run north along the coast to serve Kerteh, Kota Bharu and Tumpat, close to the Thai border. It would closely follow the alignment of the moribund 77 km freight railway between Kuantan and Kerteh, over which operations ceased in 2010.

Read more about Malaysia’s railway investment priorities in the October 2016 issue of Railway Gazette International, available to subscribers via our digital archive.