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MRL East Coast Rail Link

The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) (Malay: Laluan Rel Pantai Timur) is a planned standard gauge double-track railway link infrastructure project connecting Port Klang on the Straits of Malacca to Kota Bharu in northeast Peninsular Malaysia, connecting the East Coast Economic Region states of Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan to one another and to Peninsular Malaysia's west coast and Central Region e.g. Negeri Sembilan.[1]

Port Klang-Kota Bharu
East Coast Rail Line
CJ6-0601@BCR (20170328163813).jpg
CRRC Zhuzhou CJ6-type EMU proposed for inter-city rail line passenger services.
Native nameLaluan Rel Pantai Timur Pelabuhan Klang-Kota Bharu
TypeInter-city rail & Rail freight transport
Statusrevived, starting construction
LocaleKota BharuTok BaliKampung RajaKuala TerengganuPengkalan BeranganDungunKemasikChukaiCheratingKuantan Port CityKuantan Port City 2Kota SASGambangMaranMentakabJelebuBangi/KajangPutrajaya SentralJohan SetiaPort Klang
Ridership5.40 million by 2030 (estimated)
Planned opening2026
OwnerMalaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd
Operator(s)Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd & CCCC Joint Venture
Conduction systemWith driver
Rolling stock6-car set EMU
Line length640 km (400 mi) Double Tracking Line on Double Tracking Formation.
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
ElectrificationOverhead line
Operating speed160 km/h (passenger train)
80 km/h (freight train)

The railway link infrastructure project would have carried both passengers and freight from the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia to its East Coast and vice versa.

Construction began in August 2017. On 3 July 2018, Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) instructed China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) to suspend all works under the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning contract (EPCC) of the ECRL project.[2] The suspension was lifted after signing of a supplementary agreement between MRL and CCCC in April 2019 on the revised construction cost and southern alignment of the rail link.[3][4]

Project proposalEdit


The project provides for the double tracking and standard gauge railway line. The infrastructure includes spur lines, tunnels, bridges, viaducts, depots, stations and a signalling system.


The inter-city passenger trains use 6 car-train sets for EMUs travelling at 160 km per hour, cutting travel time from Kota Bharu to Putrajaya to around 4 hours. The freight (cargo) trains use electric locomotives running at 80 km per hour.[5]


The project provides 20 stations, comprising 14 passenger stations, 5 combined passenger and freight stations, and 1 freight station.[6]

Project backgroundEdit

The project forms part of China's Belt and Road Initiative. On 15 March 2016, Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat (SPAD) and East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC), conducting a marketing exercise to gauge market interest, and seek views and ideas for the ECRL via a Request for Information (RFI).[7][8]

On November 2016, a framework finance deal and construction agreement, valued at USD13.1 billion, was signed by the Malaysian Government and the state-owned China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC). The deal was criticised by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed as being lopsided. “When it involves giving contracts to China, borrowing huge sums of money from China, and the contract goes to China, and China contractors prefer to use their own workers from China, use everything imported from China, even the payment is not made here, it’s made in China … that kind of contract is not something that I welcome”.[9]

Starting 8 March 2017, the plan is opened for public inspection for three months at Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) head office and 38 other locations including district offices.[10]

The 3-month Public Inspection for Phase One of the ECRL received some 95 percent approval from 17,000 respondents across 15 east coast districts.[11] SPAD had granted approval for Phase One of the ECRL railway schedule on 23 June 2017 which covers about 600 km of track. An Environmental Impact Assessment Report for the ECRL has also been completed and endorsed by the Department of Environment on 20 June 2017.[12]

On 9 August 2017, then Prime Minister Najib Razak presided at the groundbreaking ceremony in Pahang state, marking the beginning of construction. He said "The construction of this rail link is in line with the government's initiative for efficient national infrastructure as well as connecting towns and upgrading public transport in the rural areas of the east coast."[13]

Railway alignmentEdit

Before July 2018Edit

Phase 1Edit

The proposed alignment for Phase 1 of the railway features 22 stations running along a 600.3 km route. The new rail link is projected to connect passengers from Kota Bharu in Kelantan to ITT Gombak in Selangor in less than four hours.[14]

It will start north of Kuala Lumpur at the Integrated Transport Terminal Gombak (ITT Gombak), the future interchange with the Kelana Jaya Line and main long-distance bus terminal. From the Klang Valley the line will run east through the state of Pahang, serving the towns of Bentong, Mentakab, Maran and Gambang, Kota SAS before reaching the state capital, Kuantan where there will be two stations namely Kuantan Port City 2 (freight) and Kuantan Port City 1 (passenger).

From Kuantan, the line will turn north to Cherating before entering the state of Terengganu, where it will serve the towns of Chukai, Kemasik, Kerteh (Provisional), Dungun, Pengkalan Berangan, state capital Kuala Terengganu as well as via Telaga Papan and Kampung Raja area.

The ECRL will continue north into Kelantan, serving stations at Tok Bali and Jelawat, before ending at Kota Bharu.[15]

The rail link includes a total of 50 km of tunnelling and underground alignment. The tunnelling works will be carried out along the Gombak-Bentong area where the single-longest twin hill-tunnel spanning 18 km will be built under the Titiwangsa Mountains. There will also be several underground lines, including in the heavily populated Gombak area near the Kuala Lumpur city centre.[16]

Phase 2Edit

Phase 2 of ECRL will have an estimated length of 88 km. This phase will cover the stretch from Gombak North to Port Klang (Jalan Kastam) through Serendah and two more future station located at Puncak Alam and Kapar. As well, a further extension between Kota Bharu and Pengkalan Kubor will also be built. The cost of construction for this section of the ECRL is RM9 billion. With Phase 1 and Phase 2 combined, the total length of the entire line is about 688 km and the construction cost amounting to RM55 billion.[17][18]

After realignment 15 Apr 2019[19]Edit

  • Double tracking from Port Klang to Kota Bharu bypass Gombak and Bentong.
  • Standard gauges were used and the maximum speed for passenger is 160km/h and for freight is 80km/h.
  • The number of stations reduced to 20 and these stations had been removed from list:
    • Pengkalan Kubor, Tumpat
    • Wakaf Bharu, Tumpat
    • Jelawat, Bachok
    • Telaga Papan, Setiu
    • Kerteh, Kemaman
    • Kuantan Sentral, Paya Besar
    • Bentong
    • Gombak North, Gombak
    • ITT Gombak, Kuala Lumpur
    • Serendah, Hulu Selangor
    • Puncak Alam, Kuala Selangor
    • Kapar, Klang

and the following stations were shifted to another place or new stations:

    • Kuala Terengganu station which formerly situated at Kuala Nerus was shifted to Kuala Terengganu west.
    • Pengkalan Berangan station which formerly situated at Marang south was shifted to Marang west, making it nearer Marang town.
    • Mentakab station will be integrated with current KTMB Mentakab and previously there were separated station.
    • the proposed Jelebu station will be located at Titi, Negeri Sembilan
    • Bangi station will be integrated with current KTMB Bangi.
    • Putrajaya Sentral station will be integrated with the current station, the section at Putrajaya will be elevated and pass Presint 14, 1 and 9.
    • the proposed Johan Setia station will be integrated with LRT3.
    • Port Klang station, which was formerly situated at Jalan Kastam station, was shifted to Port Klang itself.


Passenger EMUEdit

Passenger services will be operated by a fleet of six-car CJ6-type EMUs, each accommodating up to 450 passengers. The EMUs will be eco-friendly and produce less noise than other EMUs.[20]

Rail freight locomotiveEdit

One electric locomotive is capable of haulage up to 45 wagons with 3500 tonnes cargo.

Owner and operatorEdit

The ECRL will be owned by Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL), a special purpose vehicle wholly owned by the Minister of Finance (Incorporated) (MoF Inc).[21] It will be jointly operated and maintained by a 50:50 joint-venture between MRL and CCCC.[22]


  1. ^ "ECRL Project Information". Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  2. ^ "MRL instructs CCCC to suspend ECRL works on grounds of national interest". The Edge Markets. 4 July 2018.
  3. ^ Anis, Mazwin Nik; Jr, Joseph Kaos; Carvalho, Martin. "Work on ECRL expected to resume next month - Nation | The Star Online". Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  4. ^ "Focus of new tenders in revised ECRL in south, says CIMB Research - Business News | The Star Online". Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  5. ^ "FAQ For 2019 ECRL". Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  6. ^ "MRL - Enriching Lives, Prospering The Nation". Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  7. ^ "EAST COAST RAIL LINE (ECRL) PROJECT". SPAD. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  8. ^ "SPAD initiates RFI to gauge market interest for East Coast Rail Line". THE EDGE. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  9. ^ "Mahathir: nothing to fear from China, but lopsided deals must end".
  10. ^ "ECRL project to boost GDP of three East Coast states by 1.5pc". 8 March 2017. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  11. ^ Hidir Reduan (9 August 2017). "Najib lambasts those who criticise ECRL project despite massive benefits to rakyat". New Straits Times.
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Malaysia breaks ground on East Coast Rail Link". 9 August 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Malaysia unveils East Coast Rail Link alignment". 10 March 2017. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  16. ^ "Gamuda and IJM set to gain from East Coast Rail Link project". The Star. Malaysia. 14 March 2017. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  17. ^ 13 May 2017 @ 5:13 pm. "Najib witnesses signing of ECRL Phase Two construction agreement | Malaysia General Business Sports and Lifestyle News". New Straits Times. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  18. ^ "M'sia inks second phase deals on ECRL and Malacca-Pengerang pipeline". Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Projek Laluan Rel Pantai Timur (ECRL) – Menyatu Kehidupan, Memacu Pertumbuhan". 2 September 2011. Retrieved 14 May 2017 – via YouTube.
  21. ^ "MoF's MRL To Own And Operate RM55b ECRL".
  22. ^ "MRL - Enriching Lives, Prospering The Nation". Retrieved 18 April 2019.

External linksEdit