KUALA LUMPUR — The RM55 billion East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project is a worthy investment, especially for those in the east coast, as it will change their economy and social life in the long term.
The 688km project, which links Port Klang in Selangor with Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan, will have 28 stations. It will offer passenger and cargo rail services and is expected to be ready in June 2024.
At a recent ground-breaking ceremony for the Tunjong ECRL station, Kelantan Federal Action Council chairman Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the construction of the station would transform the town into a new economic growth centre for the people in the state.
Mohd Farhan Hafiz Nozeli, 30, of Kelantan, said on a macro level, the project would help domestic construction players with its estimated RM16 billion contracts and boost the tourism sector.
“The freight transportation sector can also take advantage of this while on a micro level it is expected to provide skilled jobs for the local people,” he said.
“The ECRL will be a platform to provide more jobs and at the same time improve infrastructure along the routes for the rakyat.”
A lecturer from Kuantan, Pahang, Juliawati Mohd Yunus, 35, said the project has affected the market.
“In the property industry, the house prices in Kuantan have started to rise by up to 10 per cent in less than five years.
“Luckily, I have already secured a unit in Kota Sri Ahmad Shah, which will be one of the ECRL stations and I am excited to see the changes in my area.
“But going back to the idea of this project, which aims to enhance local and small and medium-scale industries, I can see that surely something is going to change.
“The Tunjong ECRL station is just 1km from the Kota Baru-Gua Musang highway and it will be a popular stopping point for road users when shopping malls, other facilities and infrastructure are developed.”
Juliawati said she would often drive with her family to Kuala Lumpur but could only do so at night after work.
“Sometimes the highway is congested and at times you will see cows grazing along the road and this is dangerous. By using ECRL, we can arrive at our destination safely,” she said, adding that she is however concerned with the fares.
Siti Safiah Ismail, 28, from Terengganu, welcomed the project, saying it would help her aunts sell keropok lekor (fish sausage) to commuters using the train.
“For us micro-entrepreneurs, we move often in the east coast area and the train is a suitable avenue for us as it could transport and deliver our products to our clients in good shape,” she said.
“The fact that the ECRL can shorten travel time is a bonus and it can boost our business as we can deliver more fresh products to customers and increase our travel frequency.”
The deputy director (Industrial Linkages & Commercialisation) of Malaysia Institute of Transport, Universiti Teknologi Mara in Shah Alam, Shahrin Nasir, said everyone was looking at ECRL as a game-changer for the country.
“Tourism will definitely increase. The whole alignment of the railway network can take advantage to promote tourism in the area. Tourism packages to explore the beautiful islands off Terengganu can be one of the attractions,” he said.