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M'sia and China yet to finalise ECRL operational details

PUTRAJAYA (April 15): The operational details, including the ticket prices, for the 640km East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) has yet to be finalised by Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd and China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC).

Speaking at a press conference today, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said CCCC has agreed to participate in the operation and maintenance of the ECRL through a 50:50 joint venture company, whereby CCCC will provide technical support and share the operational risk after the project's completion.

"This arrangement will ease the financial burden on Malaysia, which previously was to bear the entire cost of the operation and maintenance (O&M).

"In addition, Malaysia can also leverage on CCCC's expertise in O&M, hence improving the long-term viability of the project. We are confident that CCCC's involvement will attract and spur investment along the rail link corridor, especially from China," he said.

Nonetheless, Dr Mahathir said the details in operating the railway, which is estimated to be completed in 2026, has yet to be ironed out.

"That has not been worked out yet, we will have some say in determining the operation of the railway (ECRL), so we will have some influence over determining the ticket prices et cetera," he said.

Dr Mahathir also said ECRL's new alignment, which avoids the construction of the 17.8km long Genting Tunnel from Bentong to Gombak, will save costs and also preserve silica deposits in that area.

"That (change in alignment) was because of the structure of the mountains along the way. If we want to do that, we need to do a lot of tunnels, and also the material there is more silica, silica that we can use for other purposes, so we don't want to disturb that deposit," he said.

The stretch that would have been affected by the construction of the tunnel is the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge in Gombak, Selangor.

It is the longest pure quartz dyke in the world, measuring over 16km long and 200m wide.

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