KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 14): The Ministry of Transport (MoT) on Wednesday (Jan 12) approved the Selangor portion of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), called Section C2.

This will allow construction work on Section C2 — which starts in Gombak and passes through Serendah, Puncak Alam and Kapar before ending in Port Klang — to begin in the first quarter of 2022.

"This approval is based on feedback from the public review conducted in the last quarter of 2021, as well as the approval of the Environmental Impact Assessment, Social Impact Assessment and also the Heritage Impact Assessment obtained earlier by Section C2.

"In this regard, Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) forwarded the application for full approval of the railroad plan for Section C2 ECRL to the Land Public Transport Agency, which later forwarded the document along with its approval support to the MoT," Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said in a statement on Thursday (Jan 13).

Wee also pointed out that full approval of the plan for Section C2 of the ECRL was necessary to meet the requirements of the new alignment, which will run from Gombak to Port Klang via Serendah and allow for public consultation and inform people who will live along the line.

"Public review meetings were held for three months from September to November 2021 to receive feedback on Section C2 in Selangor state.

"Of the 12,797 respondents who expressed their opinions during this public review, a total of 12,652 or 98.87% supported the ECRL route through an improved original alignment.

"A small percentage of respondents opposed the ECRL for Sections C1 [from Mentakab to Gombak] and C2, mainly because the route crossed their house or property," he said.

For the ECRL route of Section C, which includes the rail lines from Mentakab to Port Klang via Serendah, approval from the Selangor government has already been obtained and officially announced in December 2021.

"The MoT greatly appreciates and thanks the Selangor state government. The decision of the Selangor state government will definitely facilitate the re-detailing of engineering, procurement, construction contracts and commissioning of ECRL projects.

"This will facilitate the implementation of the ECRL design, which was improved based on the original ECRL line presented in August 2017.

"Despite the Selangor state government's approval of the Section C route, which will be completed in December 2021, MRL already received conditional approval for Section C1 of the railroad plan on May 6, 2021, after considering the original approval of the ECRL railroad plan on June 23, 2017," he added.

To recap, Selangor had initially insisted that Section C of the rail line go through the southern route across Negeri Sembilan and Putrajaya, instead of the northern route via Gombak and Serendah — which was part of the original alignment — that was approved on Wednesday.

The southern route was proposed by the Pakatan Harapan government to reduce the cost of the ECRL, which would be achieved by excluding the tunnel through the Titiwangsa range.

Their proposal was estimated to bring the cost down to around RM44 billion, from the RM65.5 billion projected by the Barisan Nasional government to construct the line according to the original alignment.

Under Perikatan Nasional, the ECRL was reverted back to its original alignment, but would cost RM50 billion instead.

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