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Transport minister Wee: Malaysia to rely on rail network to drive nation's aspirations

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 3): Malaysia will rely heavily on its rail network to drive the nation’s aspirations in the future, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

He said rail transportation plays a major role in all developed nations, which Malaysia aspires to be with a robust transportation mix.

“China’s Belt and Road initiative, which encompasses Southeast Asia, Central Asia and nations all the way to Europe, is already drawing enormous attention in the region and abroad.

“This connectivity and cooperation between those countries will be a major step forward in terms of trade, cultural and scientific exchanges in the new century,” he said in his officiating remarks at the virtual second Symposium on Railway Infrastructure & Engineering, (2nd-RIE) organised by Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman’s Faculty of Engineering and Science together with the Malaysia Rail industry Corporation (MARIC).

Wee said the Malaysian government is embarking on this new initiative and is expanding its rail network throughout the country.

Phase one of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line, from Sungai Buloh to Semantan, began operations on of Dec 16, 2016.

The entire line, from Sungai Buloh to Kajang, became operational on July 17, 2017.

“This is a testament of the nation’s commitment to become a developed nation. This 51 km track runs through 31 stations serving a population of 1.2 million people in the region,” said Wee.

Realising the importance of a rail network especially in the Greater Kuala Lumpur area, Wee said the government has further allocated funds for the construction of the second MRT line, which is under construction with a distance of 52 km and is expected to have a ridership of 529,000 commuters per day.

“Another example of the government’s commitment on expanding the rail network in the country is the construction of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) with a distance of 664 km. The construction cost is estimated at US$12.5 billion connecting the East Coast Economic Region states of Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan,” said Wee.

He said this would potentially alter key international trade routes in the process.

“This corridor is in line with China’s Belt and Road ambition connecting the Middle East and Europe by sea routes. It is estimated that the ECRL will transport around 5.4 million passengers and carry 53 million tonnes of cargo annually by 2030, with a transportation ratio of 30 per cent passengers and 70 per cent cargo,” said Wee.

The one-day 2nd-RIE symposium is aimed at bringing together professionals from the railway industry, such as operators, researchers and academics to share and promote research activities to support the new initiatives of expanding the rail network in Malaysia and China’s Belt and Road initiative in the region.

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