KUALA LUMPUR (May 9): The government has given its assurance that fares for the East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) service will not burden the people.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said Terengganu PKR chairman Azan Ismail's claim that ECRL fares were up to six times higher than airfares were speculative and unsubstantiated.

He also said discussions were still ongoing at the Federal level for the fares to be equivalent with Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad’s (KTMB) electric train service (ETS) on Penisular Malaysia’s West Coast.

“It is a known fact that the ETS fares are very reasonable and much lower compared to airfares for routes and destinations on the west coast of the peninsula. The ECRL fares are fixed based on the recommendations of the Land Public Transport Agency (APAD).

"Basically, the rates to be fixed will ensure that ECRL fares remain competitive and affordable and at the same time be able to pay for the cost of operations and maintenance. What is most important is that it will not burden the consumers,” he said in a statement via Facebook on Friday.

On Thursday, Azan was quoted by the media as saying that ECRL fares are expected to be expensive due to its high construction costs, and urged the government to look into aspects such as affordability. The ECRL project is expected to be completed by the end of 2026.

The construction of the ECRL covers 665 kilometers involving 59 tunnels and is expected to cost RM50.27 billion involving four States, namely Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Selangor.

Wee also said the government does not intend to impose high fares for passenger services in order to recover construction costs as it is a project for the people that certainly will not be burdensome.

In fact, he added, cargo transport services for industrial use and manufacturing are expected to generate more than 70% of ECRL's revenue when it becomes operational in 2027.

He said ECRL’s fare structure must obtain government approval before it can be implemented in line with the requirements of APAD and the Railway Operator Licence as the regulator.

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